Recently, Newsweek profiled Crooked Media founders and current hosts of Pod Save America, Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Tommy Vietor, and Jon Lovett. Regardless of your political viewpoints, their popularity rise among the general public is unquestionable. All the podcasts under the Crooked Media umbrella — Pod Save America, Pod Save the World, Lovett or Leave It, and With Friends Like These — are regularly in the top 10 of any list you’re bound to pull up and often topping the political-specific category.
What’s interesting about the Newsweek feature, among other anecdotes, was their comparison of podcasts in today’s millennial and media-driven society to that of the older talk radio generation.
The same medium that propelled more conservative-focused pundits like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and countless others has undergone a digital transformation and now favors the more liberal-focused personalities. Why?
Age and technical adoption have to the first, and most apparent reasons. The I-want-it-now early technical adopters tend to be both young and left-leaning. Podcasts serve on-demand content for digital natives on nearly any device, through a variety of mediums, whenever they want. The current top 15 iTunes podcasts in the News & Politics categories has at least 7 podcasts you could describe as liberal, including all four from the Crooked Media folks. However, only one is a traditional conservative outlet — #15, The Ben Shapiro Show.
Is this same trend transcending the political realm as well? Are we seeing a shift from sports talk radio to podcasts? How about local morning news? My hunch is we’re not seeing the change because other talk radio shows are centered on hyper-regional activities (a specific sports team, local news/happenings, etc.).
It’s hard to find evidence supporting the trend, but that’s mainly due to how the chart system works (related: The Podcast Discoverability Problem) and the challenges of regional audiences. For instance, it’s not surprising a Minnesota Twins-focused podcast doesn’t make it on the top 50 sports podcasts. A quick iTunes search brings up random Minnesota sports podcasts, but on initial inspection only one is centered on the Twins (and it’s hosted by ESPN).
I suspect the hyper-regional podcasts are steadily growing, but may take some time before we see them start to displace regional talk radio. As podcast listeners, we all know and understand the benefits compared to radio, however some of the podcast laggards may take some time to change their inculcated habits.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments.