2018: What a year for podcasts, everyone. In pulling together our end of the year podcast retrospective, I saw a few things pop up as I looked at the shows we featured in Explore over the course of this year:
We featured 2,477 podcasts. I need to sit down. That’s so many!
Yes, some podcasts are duplicates–a show could move between categories from week to week–so to narrow it down: there were 1,819 unique shows featured this year. All the following calculations will be based on this unique shows number unless otherwise noted.
What all these featured podcasts have in common is that we knew about them, primarily because people told us themselves or we noticed they were using our tools. Two ways to get on our radar: after verifying your podcast on RadioPublic, fill out the new shows & seasons prompt on your podcast’s dashboard and start using RadioPublic’s tools to help listeners worldwide discover and support your show.
Every week, we feature the following categories: Trending on RadioPublic, Indies to Watch, New Shows, and New Seasons, with the occasionally added Staff Picks. The breakdown:
- Trending: 165 shows
- Indies to Watch: 370 shows
- New Shows: 509 shows
- New Seasons: 265 shows
- Staff Picks: 55 shows
And then we have our curated collections, hand-selected topical and timely groupings of podcasts.
- We included 48 collections in Explore this year, totaling 455 unique podcast features.
- Half were curated by guest curators.
- Nine were done in partnership with the Bello Collective (eight audio drama debut collections curated by Ely Fernandez-Collins and one local politics podcast collection curated by Lindsay Schuette).
Here are some general estimations of data points I could somewhat easily pull out from our tracking spreadsheets, where we are loosely keeping tabs on podcasts trends. These are extremely hard to keep track of, because it requires a podcast to explicit say – either in their podcast feed or directly to us – these bits of demographic information. As such, we also have extremely limited data about the people behind the making of the show, including gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc. to more fully talk about representation in this year’s features. We all still have some work to do on this front.
- Independent: approximately 900 featured shows were produced independently (we define this broadly: generally, “independent” in this context means without a larger network, full-fledged production studio, or brand backing a production financially).
- International: We estimate that around 350 of this year’s unique features were podcasts from outside the US. Many of these shows are English-speaking and came from the large radio entities of the countries we saw the most from: the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Fiction: Ely’s monthly audio drama debut collections began appearing in RadioPublic starting in May, and surfaced 101 podcasts over the course of the year. Additionally, we featured close to four dozen more audio drama over the course of the year.
To close: our last two Explores of the year are dedicated to some of the podcast trends developing in 2018, and we highlighted a cross-section of shows that represent these trends.
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2018 Podcast Retrospective, Part 1 (live in the RadioPublic apps 12.18.18)
Celebrities debuting their own podcasts
TV, movie, and YouTube stars make their way into the podcasting world.
- Ellen on the Go (WAD Productions & Wondery)
- Couples Therapy with Candice and Casey (Casey Neistat & Candice Pool)
- Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast (Oprah)
- Amy Schumer Presents: 3 Girls, 1 Keith (Amy Schumer & Spotify)
- Bunny Ears (Macaulay Culkin + Matt Cohen)
- The Punies by Kobe Bryant (Granity Studios & Cadence13)
- The Daily Show With Trevor Noah: Ears Edition (Comedy Central)
- The Goop Podcast (Goop, Inc. & Cadence13)
- Don’t @ Me with Justin Simien (KCRW &Justin Simien)
- Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend (Team Coco & Earwolf)
- Katie’s Crib (Shondaland)
- HANNAHLYZE THIS with Hannah Hart & Hannah Gelb (Harto)
Quick daily shows
Last year’s rash of daily podcasts focused mainly on US-based news shows. This year, we saw daily news shows from around the world as well as quick daily shows that expanded beyond current events.
- Retropod (The Washington Post)
- The Bay (KQED)
- Today, Explained (Vox & Stitcher)
- The Signal (ABC Australia)
- TASTE Daily (TASTE)
- Today in Focus (The Guardian)
- Start Here (ABC News)
- Post Reports (The Washington Post)
- TicToc (Bloomberg)
- Techmeme Ride Home (Techmeme)
- Beyond Today (BBC Radio 4)
- Newsroom | BNR (BNR Nieuwsradio)
Podcasts about criminal justice
Shows examining the law, incarceration, and reform.
- Justice In America (The Appeal)
- Mass Exoneration (Mass Exoneration)
- Repeat (KPCC)
- 70 Million (Lantigua Williams & Co.)
- Bird (Bird Podcast)
- Caught (WNYC Studios)
- Grove Road (Newshub)
- The Appeal (The Appeal)
- The Color Line Murders (The Color Line Murders)
- Serial (This American Life)
Standout standalone series
Many of the most talked-about podcasts of 2018 were short, in-depth narratives, told over several episodes.
- Believed (NPR)
- 16 Shots (WBEZ & The Chicago Tribune)
- Caliphate (The New York Times)
- Drilled (Critical Frequency)
- The Habitat (Gimlet)
- Dream Diary (Lewis Denby)
- No Feeling Is Final (ABC Australia)
- Uncover (CBC Podcasts)
- Wild Thing (Foxtopus Ink)
- She Says (WFAE)
- Last Seen (WBUR & The Boston Globe)
- The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian)
- American Fiasco (WNYC Studios)
- Shattered: White Boy Rick (WDIV Local 4 & Graham Media Group)
Podcasts exploring our tech past, present, & future
Building, reflecting, and investigating technology, today and yesterday.
- Valley of Genius (TWiT)
- Crazy/Genius (The Atlantic)
- Function with Anil Dash (Vox Media)
- ZigZag (Stable Genius Productions / Radiotopia)
- The Secret History of the Future (Slate)
- Their Own Devices (Marc Groman & David Reitman)
- American Innovations (Wondery)
- Command Line Heroes (Red Hat)
- Inside Skunk Works (Lockheed Martin)
- Instant Message (The Wall Street Journal)
- City of the Future (Sidewalk Labs)
- Breach (Carbonite | Midroll | Spoke Media)
Historical deep dives
The 60s are back! A selection of podcasts that dug into the past.
- Bughouse Square with Eve Ewing (Studs Terkel Radio Archive & WFMT Radio Network)
- Heat and Light (The Conversation)
- King’s Last March (American Public Media)
- The Wilderness (Crooked Media & Two-Up)
- The History Listen (ABC Australia)
- Order 9066 (APM Reports & The Smithsonian)
- Dressed: The History of Fashion (iHeartRadio & HowStuffWorks)
- Clear and Present Danger – A history of free speech (Jacob Mchangama)
- History is Gay (Leigh & Gretchen)
- Friendly Fire (John Roderick, Adam Pranica, & Benjamin Ahr Harrison)
- The RFK Tapes (Crimetown Presents)
- Wonder Women (Wonder Women)
2018 Podcast Retrospective, Part 2 (live in the RadioPublic app on 12.26.18)
Podcasts turned books, TV, & movies
Podcast adaptations start hitting screens and bookshelves everywhere.
- Homecoming (Gimlet)
- Dirty John (L.A. Times | Wondery)
- 2 Dope Queens (WNYC Studios)
- Welcome to Night Vale (Night Vale Presents)
- The Story Behind (Emily Prokop)
- Lore (Aaron Mahnke)
- The Longest Shortest Time (Hillary Frank & Stitcher)
- The Bright Sessions (Lauren Shippen)
- The Adventure Zone (The McElroys)
- Pod Save America (Crooked Media)
In-depth stories and reporting by and for their immediate communities (and beyond)
- Thunder Bay (CANADALAND)
- The Promise (Nashville Public Radio)
- Bundyville (Longreads & Oregon Public Broadcasting)
- Bear Brook (New Hampshire Public Radio)
- Landline (ABC Australia)
- Recut (Louisville Public Media)
- You Have a Friend in Detroit (WDIV & Graham Media Group)
- SOLD! (CBC Radio)
- Political Breakdown (KQED)
- Hurricane Season (Houston Public Media)
- Orlando Sentinel Conversations (Orlando Sentinel)
- Welcome to LA (KCRW & David Weinberg)
- JOLTED (Vermont Public Radio)
- The Noir and Bizarre (WYPR Baltimore)
This year’s kids shows began to cover a fuller range of genres, including fiction, philosophy, music, and history.
- Forever Ago (American Public Media)
- This Podcast Has Fleas (WNYC Studios)
- Pants on Fire (Gen-Z Media)
- Tai Asks Why (CBC Podcasts)
- Chompers (Gimlet)
- Noodle Loaf (Dan Saks)
- ABC KIDS News Time (ABC Australia)
- Grimm, Grimmer, Grimmest (Pinna)
- Girl Tales (Rebecca Cunningham)
- Dad and Me Love History (Paul & James Letters)
- Timestorm (Cocotazo Media)
- ABC Classic Kids (ABC Australia)
Explore new worlds with audio fiction
Audio dramas continued to introduce us to new places and feelings
- Wolverine: The Long Night (Marvel and Stitcher)
- Untypical (EAST Corp)
- Arden (Wheyface Radio)
- Six Minutes (Gen-Z Media)
- The Shadows (CBC)
- Searching for Salai (SAP, Masters of the Digital Renaissance)
- Everything is Alive (Ian Chillag / Radiotopia)
- StarTripper!! (The Whisperforge)
- Calais 2037 (New Time)
- The Walk (Panoply / Naomi Alderman / Six To Start)
- The Prospectives (Adam Hurly)
- Bubble (Maximum Fun)
- A World Where (A World Where)
- Adventures in New America (Night Vale Presents)
- Buick City 1AM (Jason Cady)
- Mount Olympus University (Mount Olympus University)
Women in the Lead
From the driver’s seat in politics, business, & music.
- Superwomen with Rebecca Minkoff (Rebecca Minkoff | Wondery)
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls (Timbuktu Labs)
- The Cut on Tuesdays (Gimlet)
- Women Belong in the House (Wonder Media Network)
- Latina to Latina (Lantigua Williams & Co.)
- Beyond Kate (Radio New Zealand)
- Women Who Rock (2SER)
- Hysteria (Crooked Media)
- No Country For Young Women (BBC Radio)
- Women at Work (Harvard Business Review)
- Fierce Girls (ABC Australia)
- Bearcat (Critical Frequency)
- The Boxer Podcast with Barbara and Nicole Boxer (PodcastOne)
- Lady Startup (Mamamia Podcasts)
- Mothers of Invention (Doc Society)
- RBG: Beyond Notorious (CNN)