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Galen Stocking
Galen Stocking

608. Guest interviews key part of most listened-to podcasts: Pew Research

A new study from the Pew Research Center finds that 20 percent of Americans are regular podcasts listeners, but only about 4 percent of those podcasts feature a guest on a regular basis. 

Galen Stocking, a senior computational social scientist at Pew, says the research underscores that podcasts have become a “large part of the information diet for a lot of Americans. In a 2023 survey, 49 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast in the preceding year, 20 percent said they listen multiple times a week.” 

When asked whether people are getting their news from podcasts, two-thirds of people who listen to podcasts said they hear news discussed on the programs they listen to regularly. “News is a big part of the podcast experience and the podcast experience is a big part of people’s information diets today,” Stocking says. 

The Pew study looked at the top 300 podcasts, based on average daily chart rankings, for Apple Podcasts and Spotify individually and, given the overlap between the two platforms as some podcasts appear on both, determined a list of the 451 “top” podcasts in 2022. 

“We looked at those top-ranked podcasts and we were curious as to who was appearing on those podcasts,” Stocking says. “Guests are a key part of podcasts themselves. We looked at the format of each podcast and found the format for one-third were interviews, compared to commentary or deep reporting, all were about the same proportion. We wanted to see who these guests being interviewed actually were. We found off the bat that three-quarters of those top podcasts had at least one guest in 2022. It was very common, even on shows that are not interview focused. We looked more deeply at how often guests were showing up and about 49 percent had guests occasionally, 26 percent had guests in at least half of the episodes, and 4 percent had guests in 90 percent or more of every episode.” 

When it comes to who those guests tend to be, Pew Research found that for the top 451 podcasts, the guests were “people that people know” from “all different industries: entertainment industry, political industry, journalists, all sorts of different backgrounds and professions, scientists,” Stocking says. 

Based on that range of topics, and the guests who appeared on podcasts, Pews’ research suggests there is a diverse range of perspectives and voices featured on podcasts. 

“People are using this medium to tell lots of different types of stories in different ways,” Stocking says. “We didn’t look at the personal characteristics of guests themselves other than the guests who showed up the most. We found people from all different backgrounds. That suggests that the voices integrating are at least coming into the topics from different perspectives.”

Allison Taylor-Levine

625. Community collaboration key to evolving local journalism

Allison Taylor Levine, CEO of Local Journalism Initiative, discusses how LJI’s Delaware Journalism Collaborative, which has brought more than 25 partners throughout the state together to report on polarization and possible solutions, strengthens local journalism in Delaware and our democracy.

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