• Technology

Radio is dead, long live radio: a primer on podcasts.

Podcasts have been around since the early 2000s, but their popularity has ramped up thanks to recent success stories like Serial and Gimlet Media. The percentage of Americans who have listened to a podcast within the past month has nearly doubled since 2008, from 9% to 17% as of early 2015. But clearly there’s still a long way to go when it comes to mass adoption.

While podcast advertising reach still pales in comparison to outlets like Spotify, Pandora, and terrestrial radio, brands are taking notice of the medium’s growth. The ability to better understand exactly who is listening to each broadcast, and how many ads are being heard during each listen, has contributed to sponsorship spots costing more than double those on traditional radio. Ad spots on established podcasts bring in between $18 and $25 per one thousand listens compared to $8 to $15 for radio.

With podcasts and the audio medium in general picking up steam, it got us thinking about our go-to listens.

Five of our favorite podcasts

Members of our team regularly listen to podcasts during their daily commute or while heads down on client work.

a16z

Andreessen Horowitz is one of the leaders in tech venture capital. As longstanding Valley insiders, a16z brings interviews and discussion topics that look toward the future (read: 5-10 years out) in today’s fast-paced technology advancements.

Favorite topics: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, mobile tech, wearables, and the blockchain

Listen to a16z

Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders Series

Stanford is well known for consistently churning out leaders in technology; more specifically leaders who go on to form the world’s largest technology companies. It only make sense they bring back alumni and other luminaries to speak to the graduating class about their successes and failures with candor normally reserved for autobiographies.

Favorite episodes: Stewart Butterfield (Slack), Scott Cook (Intuit), John Collison (Stripe), Matt Rogers (Nest), Ben Horowitz (a16z)

Listen to Entrepreneurial Thought Leader Series

StartUp

Chronicling the manic nature of going out on your own and starting your own business, the twist here is the team behind the podcast is also the main cast of characters in this now success story (Gimlet Media). If you get one thing from this listen, it’ll be that starting a business is mentally difficult. Season 2 profiles a different company and I’m sure Gimlet will continue producing more hits like this.

Favorite topics: taking on a business partner, “do I really want to do this?”, and “am I going crazy?

Listen to StartUp

Reply All

Previously known as the internet culture sendup called TLDR, the show had a sort of inherent campiness to it. Now that Gimlet Media took over production, the original quirkiness of the show’s hosts, PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, still shines while allowing the co-hosts to delve deeper with rich storytelling.

Favorite episodes: Comcast customer (un)service, the Reddit implosion, and errant cookie emails

Listen to Reply All

99% Invisible

In the world of online radio (and probably ASMR), Roman Mars is a demigod to his legions of fans. Roman takes on design’s minutia, the stuff you never see but is right in front of your face. He achieves this speaking right into your ears like a friend sitting a little too close. This technique is on purpose (as heard in the a16z episode on podcasting) so we become more intimate with his subjects.

Favorite episodes: milk carton kids, fortune cookies, the AIDS ribbon, and lock picking.

Listen to 99% Invisible

Photos by Koichi Okuwaki

Stephen Beck Founder & CEO