Six Things Listeners Love About Podcasts (and Four That Make Them Crazy)


The world’s largest podcast conference is happening this week in Dallas and NuVoodoo will be there. On Thursday morning, Carolyn Gilbert, Jeri Fields, and I will be presenting at Podcast Movement. When we committed to a title for the presentation months ago, we committed to “Seven Things Listeners Love About Podcasts (and Three That Make Them Crazy).” We pivoted when the data told us otherwise, but we’re still shown on the schedule as “Seven Things That Listeners Love About Podcasts.”

After individual Zoom interviews with dozens of podcast listeners and a quantitative study with nearly 1,700 podcast listeners nationwide, we’re confident about the revised title. Don’t misinterpret – this is a business with oodles of upside. Listeners are bonkers about the content they get, the relationships they feel with podcast creators, the growing ease with which they can connect with podcasts.

Having attended previous Podcast Movements, we know that presentations are high on entertainment value. When your presentation is basically a PowerPoint showing charts and tables from a research study, you know you’ve got to work a little harder. That’s why we’re relying on three experienced presenters punctuated by clips from dozens of Zoom interviews to keep our session interesting.

Our nationwide quantitative sample sprawls across most of three generations. The youngest Gen Z’s are now age 10 and we’d have needed parental permission to interview them, so we started our sample at age 14 and got the rest of the Generation Z up to age 25. We continued through the full width of both Millennials (now ages 26-41) and all of Gen X up to age 57.

We’ve shown the steep differences between Gen Z and Millennials as they apply to radio usage in our twice-annual Ratings Prospects Studies. While tween and teen years have historically been when many establish relationships with radio, Gen Z looks different. Both Millennials and Gen Z’s are considered digital natives, but Millennials largely grew up in an era where the Internet was something you connected to via dial-up modem and smartphones were still years away. Thus, most Millennials entered their tween and teen years listening to radio at least some of the time.

Gen Z’s on the other hand grew up with broadband internet and cellphones – many with smartphones as teens. Their tween and teen music connections are far more likely to have been made online or with an MP3 player. Without that initial radio connection, fewer are finding their way to radio as they age into adulthood. And while Gen Z’s are finding their way to podcasts, it’s Millennials who are the epicenter of the podcast audience.

Millennial men turn out to be the plurality of our sample of frequent podcast users. In previous generations these men, now 26-41, would be the ones flowing into spoken-word radio. But Millennial men are finding their way to the on-demand, all-types-of-content, star-studded, super-crowded, low-commercial-inventory world of podcasting.

Content choices available on podcasts are as wide as the ocean. Asked to score their interest in two dozen podcast topic areas, the top five rankings end up different for each gender/generational split.Some topic areas in the rankings above aren’t well-covered by spoken word radio – meaning the door is wide open for podcasters. If you’re not able to make it to Dallas for Podcast Movement, look for our Podcast Movement 2022 presentation at in the coming weeks.