All things podcast
BY DEANNA SHOSS
Podcasts are audio recordings you can listen to from your computer, smartphone, or any mobile device. It’s kind of like the old mystery theater you used to listen to under the covers on your transistor radio. Except that now you’re in control. You can listen on-demand, when and where you want, and you can find podcasts on just about any topic you can imagine. From true crime to gardening to UFOs, cooking comedy, and more. Just Google your “favorite topic + podcast,” (i.e. “skydiving podcast”) and you will likely yield more than a few “Top 10 podcasts about…” lists. With Apple podcasts alone hosting 1.68 million podcasts and 41.9 million episodes in 2020, you will never lack for something to enjoy.
Postcast: It’s not just for the kids
In 2020, 55% of people in the US, or 155 million, have listened to a podcast at least once. That is more than double the 23% who had listened to a podcast in 2010. 37% or 104 million people listened to podcasts monthly in 2020. As with much technology, it does skew younger, with 49% of 12 to 34-year-olds listening to podcasts. However, 22% for the 55 plus crowd are already on board and active!
Podcasting is not as new as you would imagine. Podcasts were invented in 2004. George W Bush was the first president, in 2005, to have his weekly address delivered as a podcast. President Obama was interviewed on Marc Maron’s popular WTF podcast in 2015. And while WTF is exactly what you think it is (or ask your adult child or teenage grandchild if you don’t know) it has more than 6 million downloads per month—more reach than you could ever achieve through traditional media. And, while podcasters may have originally started to be hip and cool and to share knowledge, now a podcast is a way to make a living. Mommycast was the first podcast, in 2008, to sign a six-figure deal with Dixie. In 2020, The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most listened to podcasts ever. Rogan just signed a $100 million exclusive deal with Spotify, a Swedish (and easy to use) audio streaming and media services provider. In 2019 he was making $75,000 per episode from advertisers wanting to reach the people making up his 140 million monthly views.
What to Listen to and How to Listen
You may already be a pro—in which case, help your friends by sharing your favorites (and share your best tips in the comments). If you are new, however, start with the topic you are interested in or want to learn more about, as opposed to thinking “I should listen to podcasts.” Or start with someone you like: an actor, author, thinker, politician, etc., and search with that magic formula: “topic or person’s name” followed by “podcast.” For example, search Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History, where “every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time.” Search “grandparenting podcast” and you’ll discover The Grand Life, produced by grandparents (to nine grandchildren) Emily Morgan and her husband Michael. The Grand Life, a new partner with Grand Magazine, is the only podcast that tackles subjects about grandparenting – everything from being in the delivery room when our grand is born to how we can avoid making mistakes when using social media about our grand.
The hardest part about listening to podcasts is narrowing down what you will listen to, with so many options. One way to start is to ask others what they enjoy. Or, as you’re reading magazine articles that you like, see who the author is and discover if they have a podcast. You may have to kiss a lot of frogs per se as you are starting out, where you start listening and realize a podcast is not for you. These early stages can be frustrating. But once you narrow it down be sure to hit “subscribe” or follow the ones you enjoy so you don’t have to search for them each time there’s a new episode. You may even find that some of your favorite radio programs, like the Moth Story Hour or Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me, both popular on NPR, are also now available as podcasts. That is the beauty, you are in control. You’re no longer tethered to having to be at a certain spot at a certain time to listen at someone else’s convenience. (You can even hit pause if you need to…you know…and then come back and resume right where you left off.)
Ask your adult children and grandchildren what podcast they listen to. That’s a great way to stay engaged with what’s going on in their world, and another entree for a conversation with them.
When and where to listen to a podcast
Often when you hear podcasts advertised, you’ll hear “listen to wherever you listen to podcasts. Again, that’s because you’re in control. Most podcasts can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify (note that Spotify is a paid service—but you can also find just about any song that’s ever been recorded—so fun!), Google Podcasts, and Stitcher. All four of these can be found or downloaded as apps on your phone, or as websites on your computer. The difference is if you have an iPhone (then you are Apple) or Android (that’s Google) and which interface is easiest for you.
What many people like about podcasts as opposed to video, is that you don’t have to sit in front of your computer to watch. Podcasts can be listened to while in your car, while you are cooking or doing laundry. And if you are listening from an app on your phone you can literally be anywhere. Podcast producers launch their podcast at regularly scheduled times so their listeners know when to expect it. But once an episode is launched you can listen to it at the time that’s convenient for you. It does take a little prep time, however. You want to have your podcast queued up and ready to hit play before you get in your car.
Of course, if you have Alexa or Siri in your home, there’s nothing easier than saying “Alexa. Play The Grand Life: macular degeneration”
Subscribing and following.
Once you find a podcast that you like, it’s a good idea to follow or subscribe. Spotify allows you to follow podcasts. When you follow them they become saved to your favorites, so you don’t have to go searching again. Apple and Google allow you to subscribe. This is not like print magazines where a subscription costs money. Subscribe simply means that you will get notified when your favorite podcast drops a new episode. That makes it easy for you to never miss A beat. Subscribing also helps the podcaster when they are looking for advertising and such, as subscribers allow them to document how popular their podcast is. That’s important, especially when you want to support new up and comers.
Along with the option to subscribe, you will also see a button to download. While downloading a podcast may seem like it’s the more cumbersome process, it’s actually better! If the podcast is not downloaded that means you are using your Wi-Fi data to stream it. If you are outside of your Wi-Fi, area for example in your car, you will eat up your data too quickly. These are settings that you can set when you initially set up your podcast app.
Ask Your Grandchildren to Help?
If you have trouble getting started, know that it’s them, not you! Interfaces get easier and easier every day. Start with your interests, your tastes, and what you want to learn. Listen with a loved one or friend. And use it as an opportunity for another avenue to connect with your grandchild. Ask them what they listen to. And ask them for help to set up a system that works and that makes the experience fully enjoyable.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
DEANNA SHOSS (CEO Intercultural Talk, Inc., Marketing) helps non-digital natives promote their businesses or life projects with digital, intercultural, and real-life marketing. She takes an intergenerational approach that combines online communication platforms like websites/blogs, social media, and video with tried and true practices such as partnership building, email marketing, and in-person events. Deanna writes for the National Diversity Council and is the Tech Columnist for Grand Magazine. She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and French and is a certified Body Pump instructor. Learn more at interculturatalk.com.