“I don’t really listen to podcasts”

Don’t overlook the most important POV in podcasting

. 2 min read


At Pacific Content, every client strategy session begins with a simple exercise. One by one, we go around the room and ask everyone to:

  1. Introduce yourself
  2. Tell us about your favorite podcast (if you have one)

Inevitably, someone in the room will sheepishly admit that they “don’t really listen to podcasts.”

This is music to my ears.

“Thank you for owning your status as a non-listener,” I’ll say. “I especially want to hear from you this session.”

Those of us in podcast-land forget we’re in the minority. We forget that the vast majority of people (68% according to The Infinite Dial) are not regular podcast listeners. Take a look at this video from Edison Research, talking to people who don’t listen to podcasts:

Not listening to podcasts isn’t a character flaw. Rather, it’s an indication that the podcast market isn’t serving you as well as it could.

If podcasters keep making shows designed with only existing podcast listeners in mind, how on earth do we expect the medium to grow? Growing the pie of listeners isn’t just about audience development. It’s an editorial strategy, too.

As a podcaster, your job is to make a show so good that non-podcast listeners are incentivized to check it out. So good that the trip up the podcast learning curve is worth it.

With all their audience building superpowers, brands are in a great position to introduce large numbers of people to podcasting. But without sufficient Creative Bravery, brands risk leaving rookie listeners with the impression that podcasts are nothing more than mediocre informercials.

That’s a big responsibility. So here’s the question:

Are we making an amazing first experience for someone who’s never listened to a podcast before?

That’s why I love it when someone tells me they “don’t really listen to podcasts” at the beginning of a strategy session.

It a cue for me to pay particular attention to their POV, because they represent a perspective that’s too often underrepresented in new show development.

Don’t get me wrong: personal use is a precondition for understanding any medium. You won’t become a great novelist without reading a lot of novels. And you won’t become a great filmmaker if you’ve never seen a movie.

But if you’re in the business of creating new shows, spend the time to find people who aren’t regular podcast users.

Then listen to them.

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