The secret to podcast discovery? Newsletters

September 25, 2017
Image via Pixabay

I discovered my first podcast in 2012 vis-à-vis Grantland (RIP). I’m a fútbol fangirl, and Men in Blazers became my regular fix of soccer talk with a side of witty banter. I was an original GFOP, what the co-hosts, Roger Bennett and Michael Davies, called “Great Friends of the Pod.” Before this first serious foray into podcasts, I had been a longtime public radio consumer. NPR’s Morning Edition and the beloved radio program-turned-podcast This American Life were staples of my media diet.

As more podcasts launched, I relied on NPR and affiliates like WNYC to clue me in on what I should consume next. I’d mix in the occasional word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend, acquaintance, or stranger. Discovery was haphazard at best.

It’s not much better today. I still rely on friends (or the occasional Tinder date) to recommend their favorite podcast of the moment. I’ve even turned to Reddit and Quora. But increasingly, those sources offer a rehash of the top podcasts on the iTunes chart. There are more than 300,000 podcasts listed on iTunes, yet the same 10 to 15 are the ones pitched to me. So far, Apple, a big reason for the medium’s rise, hasn’t done enough to diversify its listings, though some people think its new stats could revolutionize the way we find podcasts (I’m skeptical).

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Podcast discovery is broken, but there might be a short-term fix. Over the last year, more newsletters have popped up for podcast makers and fans alike. New episodes, shows, and general audio news are delivered straight to your inbox. Below you’ll find a good place to start.


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Hot Pod

The grandfather of podcast newsletters, Hot Pod started as a side project in November 2014. Since then, it’s become the go-to source of podcast news, at least for audio nerds like me, and even a standalone business for its founder/curator, Nick Quah. He doesn’t recommend specific podcasts on the regular. But his comprehensive, insightful writing equips subscribers on all things podcasts for the week ahead, including what they should be adding to their podcast queues.


Pod People

Melissa Locker is a charmer, and so is her newsletter. Pod People is a regular digest of all the podcasts she’s currently listening to—plus the occasional cat GIF. Locker is no stranger to thinking about podcasts; she’s tackled the subject matter as a writer for The Guardian, whether it’s a how-to guide for creating your own or a review of the acclaimed In the Dark series. Her latest newsletter introduced me to NPR’s new internationally-focused podcast, Rough Translation, and Teen Creeps, the podcast about young-adult pulp fiction I never knew I wanted until now.


Flyover Podcast

Kelly Moffitt, an online producer at St. Louis Public Radio, loves podcasts. She also love sharing her love of podcasts with other people. In her weekly newsletter, Flyover Podcast, Moffitt features podcasts produced “between the coasts” (read: NOT New York City or LA). She highlights podcasts large and small, independent and affiliated, and most important, local. It’s her solution to the coastal bias of the iTunes chart of top podcasts. Already, I’ve expanded my podcasting listening beyond the hallowed halls of Gimlet Media and The Ringer Podcast Network (and you should, too!)


Bello Collective

One part newsletter, one part publication, the Bello Collective covers audio storytelling and the podcast industry on a weekly-ish basis. It’s been around for the last year, and is powered by a team of audiophiles. They’ve got interviews with podcasters, curated playlists (please check out this Dungeons and Dragons one), resources for aspiring audio storytellers, and of course, a weekly newsletter. My favorite installment so far? This July 11 newsletter, in which the Bello team wrote podcast recommendations in the form of horoscopes. You can bet this gemini immediately listened to her rec, House of Carbs, a new podcast about food from The Ringer.


Constant Listener

Ben Cannon, a self-processed “podcast obsessive,” has been writing about the medium for the last three years. First, at The A.V. Club. Now in his own weekly newsletter, The Constant Listener. His vision? To provide a home for thoughtful critical writing about podcasts, like what’s become commonplace for television and film. Only a few months in, he’s already started furnishing this home with everything from a compilation of the best Latin American podcasts to the emergence of podcast musicals.

Did I miss your favorite podcast newsletter? Tell me about it on Twitter, @megdalts.

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Meg Dalton is a freelance journalist and audio producer based in Connecticut. She's reported and edited for CJR, PBS NewsHour, Energy News Network, Architectural Digest, MediaShift, Hearst Connecticut newspapers, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @megdalts. Find her on Twitter @megdalts.