Podtastic! Part I: Why I Love Podcasts

Thank you, Serial. In 2016, you were my first podcast—and gateway drug to my podcast addiction.

Serial sucked me in because it was so unlike the NPR news station stories that usually filled my commute. Instead, a single story, told from multiple angles. It was exactly how I imagined early radio was—long-form storytelling with a cliff-hanger, “stay-tuned ‘til next week” hook. In the time since, I’ve spent countless hours listening to countless podcasts, and my love for the format hasn’t faded.

Podcasts have a lot going for them. First off, there are a lot them out there, and you can find one covering just about anything—comedy, history, electrical engineering, you name it. And whether you’re a binger or you revel in the old-school anticipatory fun of waiting for next week’s episode (looking at you Revisionist History), podcasts have you covered. For me, they provide the fuel for multitasking at its finest. These days I find myself looking forward to my commute or even doing household chores. Weird, right?

While initially a relatively niche market, podcasts are growing steadily. About 40% of Americans age 12 and older have listened to at least one podcast, and about 24% listen monthly (that’s up by an impressive 11% in one year). That’s no small number. For perspective, roughly 24% of American adults use Twitter, and 32% use Instagram.

As advertisers, the opportunities presented are immense: studies show a staggering 64% of podcast listeners have bought a product or service they heard about through an audio show. Why is that?

This series is going to explore the world of podcasts and the opportunities they present to us—both as consumers and as advertisers.

And now, your homework.


1. Serial—you’ve probably already listened to it. But if you haven’t this is a great place to start. Ten cliffhanger episodes, great storytelling. This is the podcast that put podcasts on the map.

2. RadioLab—This American Life’s younger, hipper sibling. An excellent weekly digest of stories you should know about but don’t. Science woven in beautifully with storytelling. And besides, how cool is the name Jad Abumrad?

3. Revisionist History—Malcolm is my original geek crush. I could listen to Gladwell read the phone book—his voice is hypnotically mellifluous—even when he’s ranting about important issues like race and religion.