Kate Fallis
Kate Fallis
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The rise of the podcast: A force to be reckoned with

There is no denying podcasts have taken the world by storm in a scarily short amount of time.  

It’s crazy to think around 6 million UK adults are tuning in to podcasts every week. That’s a number that’s almost doubled in five years (from 3.2 million in 2013) according to the latest Ofcom figures.

BBC Sounds effect

In recognition of this trend the BBC even launched a new app called BBC Sounds at the end of 2018, as a place to host all their latest and greatest audio content for users. In fact, that app is due to completely replace the BBC iPlayer by the end of 2019 as a more mobile-friendly offering in order to reach younger listeners. And you can see why the BBC have changed the way they offer their “podcast” content… 

Young adults are key

According to the data Ofcom analysed, the steepest growth in podcast listening figures occurs in young adults aged 15-24, with around one in five (18.7%) of them now listening to podcasts each week. That’s a key age group to focus on – essentially, they’re the audio listeners of the future. It is clear that they still want to consume audio, just not in the traditional sense. There was initially an uproar at the BBC Sounds app announcement as it meant a lot of listen-back podcast content was no longer available, in particular to users who could not access the app or lived outside of the UK.  

Now, I have a few theories as to why the podcast world has developed so quickly. In a world that consumes media so hungrily, it’s only natural for those growing up in a techy world seek more audio and video content, surely? The “now” generation need everything available to them at the tap of a finger (literally!) and broadcasters have had to quickly realise that, and play catch up. If the BBC, for example, can’t offer them the content they want, they can easily lend their ears to other readily available services.

The rise of niche audiences

Podcast content can also be much more targeted towards niche groups, so those who can’t find a group they belong to within the mainstream radio industry can listen to things they’ve never had access to. It’s not to say listeners aren’t still tuning in to their favourite radio show, it just means listening on the commute to and from work is no longer enough – they want more, and they want specifics! 

And if this wasn’t enough to explain their popularity, here’s another thought… Due to their increased popularity, podcasts are discussed across dinner tables and office cubicles in the same way TV shows and films are. “Did you hear xxx last night? Can’t believe what I learnt!” Most millennials like to be right in the middle of topical discussions, able to share their views and opinions with the world, which is perhaps why they’re so keen to stay up-to-date on all the latest podcast content as well as television shows and films. Basically, they don’t want to have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)!    

Likewise, I’ve bonded with many friends, acquaintances and clients over our love for particular podcast content. It’s surprising how much it can really help to build relationships and open them up in ways you never thought possible. Finding out someone listens to the same podcast as you can make you feel as though they belong to the same group as you – it’s like a little family.  

Where to start?

If you’re new to podcasts, the only problem you may have is where to start. There’s almost too much content out there so it can be a little overwhelming. Start by searching a topic and reviews on podcasts about that particular subject and go from there. If you’re still unsure, below I’ve shared some of my favourite podcast offerings that may be of interest. Of course, if you want to go one step further and create your own podcast, that’s something we can do here at Shout! Communications in our central London studio. Give us a call and we’d be happy to help.  

My Podcast Recommendations  

The Guilty Feminist

This is one of the most through-provoking podcasts I’ve listened to. It can make you both laugh and cry, all while wanting to change the world. If you’re a feminist of any kind – you’re likely to sincerely enjoy the honest conversations that go on in The Guilty Feminist, lead by presenter and author Deborah Frances-White.

The High Low

Dolly and Pandora are a lovable duo of writers who bring their listeners their take on weekly news and current affairs issues. Usually content is usually female-focused, although they do have male listeners too! Lots of listener interaction and book recommendations delivered in an honest fashion – a true delight to listen to each week.  

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Author Elizabeth Day struck gold when she came up with this idea. A podcast where she chats to well-known people (celebrities, writers, politicians, influencers etc.) about their biggest “failures” and how they have come out the other side to learn from them and turn them into successes. It’s guaranteed to make you feel better about any regrets you may have and see them in a new light.  

 Table Manners

Singer Jessie Ware and her mother Lennie host celebrities at their home for a meal each week – far more interesting that it sounds I promise! Their conversations often look into favourite meals, family traditions and all things warm and fuzzy. Their mother-daughter presenting relationship is honest and hilarious.  

Hamish & Andy

 Perhaps I’m biased, but these Aussie radio presenters are simply the best. Their radio show turned weekly podcast is filled with guest interaction, games and pranks that will have you giggling away to yourself on the tube.  

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