Plugging Into the Podcast Craze


The exploding popularity of podcasts in the past year has made it one of the fastest growing and digestible forms of media to come along in quite some time. According to a recent CBS News poll, most Americans listen to podcasts and the percentage who do listen has seen a big increase over the past year. The poll revealed that at least two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts at least once in awhile including 23 percent who listen a few times per week.

Only one year ago, a majority of Americans said they never listen to podcasts, the CBS News poll said. While listening to podcasts has increased across all ages, the biggest increases have been seen in younger adults. The poll found that:

• 29 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-34 listen to podcasts at least a few times a week, up from 16 percent in December 2017.

• A year ago, 47 percent of adults between 18 and 34 said they never listened to podcasts, compared to 18 percent today.

For more podcast statistics about consumer behavior and the proliferation of podcasts, check out these critical trends from the Infinite Dial 2018 report.

A recent segment on CBS Sunday Morning likened a podcast to “a pre-recorded radio show that you can listen to on your phone as you commute, do errands, cook or work out.” So what makes these “pseudo” streaming radio programs so appealing? For one thing they are free, and are usually supported by ads or sponsorship. And according to the CBS segment “there are a lot of podcasts—at last count, more than 630,000 different podcasts on every conceivable topic.”

The format, the accessibility and the sense of community that podcasts create are integral to their success.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Carrie Ryan, co-author of Serial Box’s Dead Air on Quora said, “One reason podcasts are so popular is that the format is uniquely situated to fit into our busy lives. Any topic you’re interested in? You’ll find a podcast dedicated to it. Only have 15 minutes to spare? You’ll find a podcast that you can listen to in that time frame. Prefer stories? There are podcasts written to scratch that narrative itch. Prefer news? Nonfiction? Science? Politics? You’ll find a podcast that fits,” she said.

“It’s information and entertainment, in bit-sized chunks, right at our fingertips. Plus, the format of podcasts allows a deeper dive into many subjects—it creates the possibility of long form investigations in a very accessible medium. While many of us might not take the time to sit down and read a 20k word length article, we can can listen to that article in bite-sized chunks during our commute to work, especially if it’s presented in an entertaining, narrative way,” Ryan said.

And as podcasts gain exposure, listeners have begun to interact with their hosts through tweets and emails, sometimes providing content and themes for their favorite shows. One of the best things about podcasts is the sheer number and vast variety of subjects to choose from. It seems there’s something for everyone with themes ranging from knitting to the RV life.

And finally, the portability of the medium makes tuning in easy. So pull out your phone or cue your favorite virtual home assistant and find a podcast or two you love. It’s a great way to stay informed or be entertained while you cook, work out or commute. Happy Listening!


The Daily

The Daily is a Monday through Friday news podcast and radio show released every morning at 6 a.m. by The New York Times. Hosted by Times political journalist Michael Barbaro, its 20-minute episodes are based on the Times' reporting of the day. Here’s how The Times describes it: “This is how the news should be. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world.” Here’s a brief review from The New Yorker’s Rebecca Mead: “Spending 20 minutes with Barbaro has become a necessary daily practice: like meditation, but with hair-raising breaking news instead of mindfulness. In Barbaro’s hands—or, rather, in Barbaro’s voice—the Times becomes conversational and intimate, instead of inky and cumbersome. It’s a 20-minute update murmured in your ear by a well-informed, sensitive, funny, modest friend—the kind of person who has as many questions as answers?

Stay Tuned with Preet

Previously a United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, was fired by President Trump back in 2017. Today he hosts a podcast about justice and fairness.

Some Spider tells listeners why they should tune in to the former prosecutor’s show. “A number of political figures have started podcasts. Most are self-promotional and boring. But former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s podcast is both intellectually engaging and entertaining. Bharara, who served under Obama and was fired by Trump, uses his new platform to examine social justice and politics. He has a knack for explaining complex legal issues with simple language, a skill that’s come in handy during the Mueller investigation. Every week he talks with a guest — a politician, an activist, a police commissioner — about issues of fairness and he answers listener questions.”


My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder is the hit true crime comedy podcast hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. The two lifelong fans of true crime stories tell each other their favorite tales of murder and hear hometown crime stories from friends and fans. Since its inception in early 2016, the show has broken download records and sparked an enthusiastic, interactive “Murderino” fan base who came out in droves this spring for the sold-out nationwide tour. Aside from being avid true crime enthusiasts, Karen Kilgariff is a stand-up comedian and television writer and Georgia Hardstark is a writer and host. Here’s what The Times had to say about the duo’s show: “When they started the show in 2016, it was in the middle of a true-crime gold rush spurred by podcasts like “Serial” and the Netflix documentary series “Making a Murderer.” But they ditched the genre’s dry investigative tone in favor of wry humor and a focus on the overlooked (mostly female) victims of infamous (mostly male) killers like Ronnie Lee Gardner or the Golden State Killer, who was recently arrested.”


Crimetown is a serial documentary podcast hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier and produced by Gimlet Media which looks at how organized crime has shaped particular American cities. The first season started in 2016 and focused on the city of Providence, Rhode Island. In Season 2, Crimetown heads to the heart of the Rust Belt: Detroit, Michigan. Here’s a review of the show from “In Crime Town, political documentary meets drama and is served to listeners with a dressing of blood mixed with sugar. The blood is to be expected; this is a criminal podcast about mobsters and their impact on cities across America, starting in Rhode Island, Providence. No Crimetown podcast review could avoid mentioning the sugar in the morbid appeal of mobsters, corruption and political power. Think Serial meets the Godfather… that's not a bad combination, is it?”


Love Is Like a Plant

If love is like a plant, how can we help it grow? Love is like a plant is a podcast about relationships, dating, sex and heartbreak hosted by Ellen Huerta, founder of Mend, an app that helps you through a break up, and Sarah May B, the podcaster behind Help Me Be Me and The Break-Up Album.

Here’s how Verily.mag describes this podcast: “Listening to this podcast is like being privy to an intimate conversation between two girlfriends who are just trying to figure out how the world of romance works. Hosted by Ellen Huerta and Sarah May Bates, they explore modern dating existential quandaries like: How to let go of a relationship that isn’t right, and Should you wait for your soul mate? And What to do when you’ve been ghosted?”

Anatomy of Marriage

Melanie and Seth Studley, are the crazy couple behind the Anatomy Of Marriage Podcast, a show that helps couples make sense of messy marriages. Here’s the review from Verily.mag: “On the brink of divorce several years ago, Melanie and Seth Studley learned how to weather the storm, and they’re not afraid to talk about their battle scars. The first season of Stronger Marriages primarily focuses on their all-too-familiar story, while expanding into a “collective of different voices” of other marriages. Stronger Marriages believes that ‘marriage can and should be mutually fulfilling, satisfying, healthy, and to be honest, mind-blowing.’ That’s right. Move over #relationshipgoals, #mindblowingmarriage is the next hashtag. Even if your relationship isn’t a daily battle of the sexes, it’s worth a listen.”



Make tooth time easy with this morning and night tooth brushing show for kids. Kids will hear jokes, riddles, stories, fun facts, silly songs and more, that’ll keep them giggling—and brushing—for the full two minutes that dentists recommend. Chompers will have kids reminding parents that it's time to brush, not the other way around! Recommended for tooth brushers ages 3 to 7.

Brains On!

Brains On! is an award-winning audio show for kids and families. Each week, a different kid co-host joins Molly Bloom to find answers to fascinating questions about the world. Their mission is to encourage kids’ natural curiosity and wonder using science and history…but there’s no age limit on curiosity, and episodes of Brains On! can be enjoyed by anyone.

There’s even a regular column that appears in called the Podcast Dept. Some recent selections include “The Big One” Podcast: Anticipating a Devastating L.A. Earthquake described as “mostly fascinating listening, full of illuminating science, history and context.” And then there’s this dark selection “Dr. Death” and the Perils of Making Medical Malpractice a Thriller, of which The New Yorker says “the podcast wavers, at times uncomfortably, between entertainment, journalism and commerce.


Not sure which podcasts are for you? Then check out these best of 2018 lists from The New Yorker and The Atlantic.

Optical Hits the Podcast Airwaves

Kids, murderers, sweethearts and politicians are not the only subject matters for podcasts. Not to be outdone, the optical industry has its own fair share of shows. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the podcasts geared toward optical.

Power Hour

The Power Hour is optometry's only live talk radio show. Hosted by Dr. Gary Gerber, listeners can tune in every Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. ET and stay plugged into what's new and important for successful ODs to know about. Eyewear related topics range from using video as a promotional tool to opening up a new practice. According to the Power Hour website, “ODs love to talk. And they certainly love to talk about optometry. After all, it's what they do, and it's what they are. The internet has several forums and e-mail lists that allow communication among ODs. While these are all good communication tools, e-mail or forum posts don't allow the true nuances, emotion, and passion of the spoken word to be heard.” According to Gerber, “With over half a million downloads and over 300 free episodes, Power Hour is one of optical’s biggest and longest running podcasts of them all.”

WO Voices

WO Voices, a podcast series from Jobson’s Women In Optometry, features women ODs and others who talk about some aspect of practice, business, career choices, family, volunteer interests, leadership in the profession and more. WO Voices is a chance to share ideas within the WO community and beyond. It’s another platform to bring women’s voices in the profession to the fore.

Review of Optometric Business

Review of Optometric Business is a Jobson online publication designed to provide the optometrist with a tool set to manage and grow the practice as a business. Past podcast subjects include private equity, and a multi-part series called “Smart Money” created by ROB and sponsored by CareCredit. ROB’s most recent offering is Full Treatment Plan: Treating the Whole Patient which explores how to make it more likely your patients follow your full treatment plan.

Dynamic Duo Podcast

Developmental optometrists Ryan Edwards, OD and Lindsey Stull, OD, FCOVD introduce you to their podcast series. The hope of this series is to offer knowledge and insight into the field of developmental optometry and vision rehabilitation, the importance of functional vision and its impact on other systems of the body.

IDOC Focal Point Podcast

IDOC Focal Point Podcast Series contains content-rich information and interviews designed to address the most critical challenges of independent optometrists today.

Click here for a more comprehensive list.

VisionWeb, as usual, has their finger on the pulse of this growing “streaming” media. This VisionWeb article summarizes some of the more popular optical podcasts out there. Here’s an excerpt:

“How do you take time out of your day to keep updated on the eyecare industry trends, discoveries, changes, and regulations? Podcasts. You can actively keep up to date while you go about your day-to-day tasks instead of cutting into your relaxation time. If you're looking for inspirational podcasts to give you good business ideas, we've written a blog post with our top 5 podcasts here. However, if you want more optometry-specific or medical-focused podcasts, read on for our favorite shows.”

What are your favorite podcasts, optical or otherwise? Email me your picks at