A 'Golden Age' Of Audio Podcasts

The rise of the podcast. What’s hot, what’s out there  and how they’re changing what’s in our ears.

It's entirely possible that you have as much of a podcast addiction as Roscoe the Pug, pictured here. (Flickr / Zoomar)

It’s entirely possible that you have as much of a podcast addiction as Roscoe the Pug, pictured here. (Flickr / Zoomar)

Top podcast on iTunes today:  NPR’s new “Invisibilia” – about the invisible forces that control human behavior.  But you don’t have to go to NPR or even iTunes to get in on the podcast surge these days.  After ten years of downloading and experimentation and growth, podcasts are now all over the place.  No radio tower required.  No broadcast.  Just you and your smartphone and a million options.  Well, lots of options.  Updated all the time.  “Serial.”  Snooki.  Sports.  This hour On Point:  the podcast surge, and what it means for the future of listening – of news, of entertainment — of public radio.

— Tom Ashbrook


Julia Turner, editor in chief of Slate. Contributor to Slate’s Culture Gabfest. (@juliaturner)

Nicholas Quah, writer of the weekly Hot Pod newsletter. (@nwquah)

Michael Maness, digital initiatives innovator in residence at the Harvard Business School. (@michaelmaness)

From Tom’s Reading List

Medium: A New Dawn For The Podcast — “Every day I hear more and more people talking about their favorite podcasts and sharing recommendation with friends. Serial has definitely helped the medium explode — there’s even a podcast, nay, two podcasts, about Serial. Podcasts about podcasts? Yeah. That happened. There’s a podcast industry newsletter that just started called Hot Pod. Roman Mars, the host and creator behind99% Invisible, started his own listener-supported network of podcasts calledRadiotopia (in conjuction with PRX). They recently finished a Kickstarter campaign that was funded by an astonishing 20k+ backers and raised over $600,000.”

Fast Company: The (Surprisingly Profitable) Rise Of Podcast Networks — “Podcasts have been around for 10 years—the medium and its adoring fans aren’t new. (Fun fact: Adam Curry, the lion-maned former MTV VJ was nicknamed the “podfather” for his contributions to developing the medium.) What is new is the renewed interest in podcasts as a lucrative business, and with that, the consolidation into formalized networks. Around three years ago, both the New York Times and theBoston Globe gave up on most of their audio programming citing a lack of interest and revenue.”

The Atlantic: Podcasts So Good You Want to Binge-Listen — “After five episodes, the worst thing that can be said about Serial, a new podcast led by This American Life producer Sarah Koenig, is that the next episode isn’t yet online. It will post Thursday. I will listen immediately. If the rest of the inaugural season’s episodes were released together, like House of Cards, I’d consume them in one sitting, foregoing sunshine, sleep, and human contact until all episodes were exhausted. That’s how I binge-watched much of The Wire, The Sopranos, and Breaking Bad. At the time, I never imagined I’d ever binge-listen to radio.”

 Podcasts You Should / Could Listen To

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