The Rise of Podcast Learning
By Sam Rucker
Back in 1984 the pop group Queen released their single Radio GaGa. It respectfully declared radio shows dead: ”You had your time… Radio goo goo”.
The culprit for Radio’s demise? Television.
Nearly forty years later and it’s safe to say that the radio format has made a formidable comeback, soaring back into the world’s pop culture.
The savior? Podcasts!
Podcasts, a short history
Right around the time Freddie Mercury was singing Radio Gaga, something else was happening.
In the 1980s Enthusiasts were sharing their thoughts via audio recordings, instead of in written form. These recordings were called “audio blogs”. Whilst they didn’t really take off, they acted as an established precursor to podcasting.
Then, in 2001, when Apple launched the iPod, the way audio files could be created, shared, and stored changed forever. Suddenly MP3 had been bought up by the mainstream.
Eventually, a former MTV video jockey, known as “iPodder”, coded the first MP3 “audio blog”. The journalist, Ben Hammersley, called this show a “podcast”.
Since then, podcasts have been growing in popularity, slowly but surely.
Podcasts today & the “informative” podcast
Back in 2010, only 23% of Americans had ever listened to a podcast. But by 2021, that had shot up to 57%. 41% of everyone in the U.S. now listens to a podcast every month.
It seemed the pandemic turbo-boosted their popularity. As we were shut out from the outside world, we brought the outside world to us, through podcasts.
Post-pandemic, 56% of listeners now say they listen with more frequency. 52% say they’re listening to new podcasts since the pandemic began.
This has translated into big business. Spotify, for example, had been keeping an eye on the success of podcasts for a while. As of today, it’s bet big on the format. $1 billion, to be exact. Part of that money was shelled out on a $100 million dollar deal, securing exclusive streaming rights for Joe Rogan’s show — a highly controversial podcaster.
Part of podcasting’s success seems to be down to its power to inform. In fact, 3 out of the top 5 most popular podcast genres are informative podcasts:
- True Crime
(Source: 2022 Voices Podcast Advertising Report, “my favorite podcast genre”)
As we’ll discuss below, TOA has also been getting in on the action.
We’ve been inviting a long list of Web3, tech, and economic experts onto the TOA On Air podcast. On Air followers can listen in on in-depth discussions and learn about some of the most talked about topics shaping the future.
In short, what we are seeing today is not only the ascent of podcasting but the rise of podcast learning.
What is podcast learning?
In a world obsessed with maximizing personal productivity, podcast learning is ideal.
By listening to informative podcasts whilst commuting to work, going for a run, or doing house chores you can go about your daily life and deep dive into brand new, educational topics.
Informative podcasts that consistently top iTunes’ charts include:
- Encyclopedia Womannica: A daily 5-minute show telling the incredible stories of women, past and present.
- Hardcore History: This is consistently cited as one of the best educational podcasts. It’s part history lesson, part immersive theatre — hosted by Dan Carlin.
- Stuff You Should Know: A show exploring the fascinating stories of everything around us: from champagne and satanism to LSD and true crime.
- TED Radio hour: TED talk topics, broken down and evaluated by big-league intellectuals.
- The Rest is Politics: Candid conversations between two political heavyweights (on opposite sides of the political spectrum), as they try and tackle the world’s biggest problems.
What are the benefits of podcast learning?
When it comes to learning something new, ambitious learners tend to choose podcasts as their weapon of choice because of the range of benefits they offer:
- Audio is optimal: There is so much visual content in our lives these days that our brains can actually switch off at the sight of it. Audio content has, therefore, been proven to more effectively stimulate the brain.
- Accessibility: For those with visual impairments, dyslexia, or a dislike for picking up books, podcasts knock down big barriers. Oh, and also, podcasts are usually free!
- It’s a feel-good thing: Learning through podcasts is scientifically proven to make you feel good. The podcast host and material scientist Titi Shodiya explains: “consuming information can activate your mesolimbic pathway, AKA the “reward pathway,” releasing dopamine throughout the brain.”
- On-demand, on your phone: The flexibility of listening to a podcast wherever, whenever you like means you’re more likely to follow through on your learning goals compared to other formats like books, seminars, or even Youtube videos.
Making podcast waves with TOA’s podcast learning
Podcasts also represent the perfect format for digging deeper into TOA’s favorite topics.
As a learning platform, TOA is always looking for ways to educate the masses on the hot topics you may have heard of, but haven’t quite got a grasp of yet.
Over a year ago Niko put his podcast host hat on. He started hitting up his contacts in the tech and business world to give you an insider’s perspective on our ever-changing world.
Now you can listen in on Niko picking the brains of some of the biggest thought leaders and entrepreneurs, on a variety of topics — dialing in from all over the world, from New York to Hong Kong.
Our guests in recent episodes include:
- Mike Merrill, the first publicly traded human in history. Listen to him talk about how he tokenized his soul and how it affected his mental health.
- Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist, decodes “Fed talk” and gives an optimistic spin on current issues in her episode.
- Lorenzo Baroncelli, director of the Triennale museum in Milan, discusses how beauty shapes our cities in this episode.
- Celine Halioua explains how the biotech industry can stop aging in its tracks. Listen to Celine, the CEO and co-founder of the biotech start-up Loyal, here
Be sure to subscribe right now to TOA On Air and make sure you don’t miss out on any of our new episodes.
Whatever podcast app you use (Google Play, Apple Podcasts, Amazon, or Stitcher) on whatever device you own (iPhone or Android) you’ll find us there!