2018 in (Podcast) Retrospect

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. 

All links provided will open directly in the RadioPublic apps for iOS and Android, or if you’re on your computer, text yourself the podcast from their show page by tapping the “Share” button.

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.

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.

Podcasts about criminal justice

Shows examining the law, incarceration, and reform.

Standout standalone series

Many of the most talked-about podcasts of 2018 were short, in-depth narratives, told over several episodes.

Podcasts exploring our tech past, present, & future

Building, reflecting, and investigating technology, today and yesterday.

Historical deep dives

The 60s are back! A selection of podcasts that dug into the past.

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.

Local journalism

In-depth stories and reporting by and for their immediate communities (and beyond)

Kids podcasts

This year’s kids shows began to cover a fuller range of genres, including fiction, philosophy, music, and history.

Explore new worlds with audio fiction

Audio dramas continued to introduce us to new places and feelings

Women in the Lead

From the driver’s seat in politics, business, & music.

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