Podcasting, in its early forms, dates back to the early to mid-2000s. Dubbed an experiment by The Guardian in 2004, this twist on radio broadcasting blossomed into an entirely new kind of medium. But by the end of the decade, interest declined as streaming services, from Spotify to Netflix, took the main stage.
Thanks in part to the Serial phenomenon, TechCrunch called mid-2015 a “celebrity moment” for podcasters everywhere. But the same article pointed out a problem: No one knew where the industry was headed.
At the same time, more content appeared on podcasting sites. The quality of podcasts continued to improve, according to New York magazine. The iTunes charts were dominated by high-quality podcasts from digital media companies with production budgets, featuring experts from all disciplines coming to talk about what they knew.
Today, weekly episodes of the top-ranked podcasts may be downloaded more than a million times each. There are hundreds of thousands of active podcasts out there. And podcast listening has increased by 24 percent in the last year.
On a surface level, the resurgence in podcasting appears to show the media and entertainment industry leaning away from the written word. But that isn’t necessarily true—if anything, attention is leaning toward a more focused narrative. Tom Burgis from Financial Times is quoted in Editor & Publisher as saying, “[Podcasting] forces you to go back to the basics of storytelling, like you would round a fire.”
This may be why the literary world has taken the podcasting industry by storm. Hosted by authors, publishers, or readers, literary podcasts are everywhere. They’re being generated by major news outlets, produced by media companies, and even supported by crowdfunding sites.
Are you new to the podcasting trend? We’ve curated a list of great podcasts from the literary world and beyond:
Podcasts that should be on your radar:
- Nate Corddry Presents: Reading Aloud features live renditions of some of the most interesting works of literature of our time.
- Books on the Nightstand brings book recommendations and a behind-the-scenes look at the world of books, bookstores, and publishing.
- Dear Book Nerd is a bi-weekly advice show about life, love, and literature. Check out some of BookRiot’s other great podcasts here.
- Beaks & Geeks, a Penguin Random House podcast, features candid conversations with authors.
- The Readers is a radio show with debates and discussion about books and reading.
- The New Yorker: Fiction is a monthly conversation with The New Yorker’s fiction editor.
- Book Club Appetizer can kick off your book club meetings or enhance your solo reading adventures.
Language and Writing Podcasts
- Writing Excuses is a fast-paced educational podcast for writers, by writers.
- A Way with Words is an NPR program about language examined through history, culture, and family.
- The Narrative Breakdown discusses literary devices, topics for fiction writers, and more.
- The Allusionist is a podcast about language and etymology.
Most Popular Podcasts
- 99% Invisible is all about the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.
- Only Human is a show about health—because every body has a story.
- Reply All is a show about the internet.
- 2 Dope Queens is a new comedy podcast with stories about sex, romance, race, and more.
- This American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast produced by Chicago Public Media.
Can’t get enough podcasts? There are hundreds of great shows out there, merely a search away. Penguin Random House authors, make sure to tune in on May 19 at 2:30 p.m. ET for our next author webinar, “How to Start Your Own Podcast,” led by Amy Brinker and Lindsay Jacobsen from the Penguin Random House Consumer Engagement Team. To sign up for the webinar, click the link in the Author Portal.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is the Manager of Publishing Development and Author Platforms for Penguin Random House.