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Listen up: The podcast arrives.

Each morning, rain or shine, I harness up my 10-year-old redbone hound for a three-mile trek through our neighborhood. But we never walk alone.  

I am one of the 42 million Americans who listen to podcasts weekly.  That’s more than five times the number that go to the movies. 

A podcast is basically on-demand internet radio. The term, which was first used in 2004 in a Guardian newspaper article, is a fusion of the words “iPod” and “broadcast.”  Podcasts generally have a standing host, a theme and are updated in a predictable manner. While you can access most podcasts from a wide variety of sources, the easiest way to stay up-to-date once you have found a show you like is to subscribe.  The show is then automatically downloaded to your device of choice.

Increasingly, brands are discovering podcasts. Companies such as Blue Apron simply use it as one would traditionally use radio. An advertising medium for 30- or 60-second spots, often with the added twist of having the host speak about a personal experience with the service. In 2016, podcast advertising expenditure exceeded $15 million.

Other companies such as eBay decided to start their own podcast as a content channel. General Electric created an industry buzz by doing a hybrid underwritten sci-fi podcast called “The Message.” And everyone from actors and authors to leadership gurus consider podcast appearances as part of their communication strategy.  Landing content on a top-rated show like Freakonomics or Planet Money is a sure-fire way to create conversation.

The advantage of using podcasts as part of your advertising and PR mix is that you can identify and target your audience, who are often not just engaged, but immersed.

If you haven’t at least started thinking about the implications of a podcast either as a business tool or an instrument of personal enlightenment, I would strongly recommend it.  Here are a few of my personal favorites. Some are mainstream, others are obscure. You can download them and hundreds of others using a podcast app on your mobile device.


Todd’s Personal Favorites

Freakonomics – A simply fabulous podcast from Stephen Dubner tackling topics as diverse as rebooting our economy to do we spend too much time and effort on our lawns. For a gameshow spin from Dubner, enjoy Tell Me Something I Don’t Know.

Stuff You Should Know – Hosted by Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark, it varies topic, but always offers a compelling deep-dig analysis. Also give a listen to Planet Money.

The Eephus – a look at the curious side of this history of baseball.  Also from Beer City Media, you might enjoy the professional wrestling podcast Pody Slam or Conspiracy Therapy, a podcast about things that they don’t want you to know about. 

Grammar Girl – Quick and dirty language tips.

Build a Better Agency – just what it sounds like…a primer on running a profitable ad agency by Drew McLelland.

Voltcast: Illuminating Leadership – Roanoke-based executive coach Jeff Smith talks to local, regional and national leaders on the concept of leadership.

Effectively Wild – If you’re really into baseball…I mean really, really into stats and what they mean, Effectively Wild is an interesting study.

The Way I Heard It – endearingly reminiscent of Paul Harvey’s the Rest of the Story, Mike Rowe spins engaging yarns about people and events you thought you knew.

The Moth – Ordinary people tell captivating stories.

Build a Better Agency – Rob Walch, Vice President of Podcaster Relations for Libsyn (LSYN), talks to Drew McLellan about how his interest in podcasting moved from a hobby to a business to a hall of fame career. 

Don’t trust my taste?  I understand. Here’s a list of the current top ten listing.  If you have a podcast you particularly enjoy, feel free to email me about it at [email protected]


Topics: Agency Life