One of the latest entertainment sectors to benefit from the smartphone boom is podcasting. Ten years ago, few people would bother listening to a curated show on their phones. Instead, most listeners tuned into their favorite radio talk shows or, in some cases, audiobooks.
However, podcasts have become incredibly popular in the last five years. Back in 2018, Variety report that Apple Podcasts had over 500,000 active titles alone. Today, that number is somewhere around two million.
There’s never been more audio entertainment for those on the go. According to Triton Digital, 10 million people have started listening to podcasts in the last year alone. Reports show that pop culture, true crime, and DIY topics are most popular amongst listeners.
But podcasting is truly diverse. Of the two million shows available, many are highly niche interests with small but dedicated followings. There’s ‘The Pen Addict’ where two guys talk pens. There’s the ‘Witch, Please’ podcast, which focuses on dissecting the Harry Potter books.
Invariably, most podcasts look to teach audiences something new while also entertaining them. Let’s take a look at three podcast categories that accomplish both.
Nothing sounds drier than a strategy game. Even though developing critical thinking skills has been scientifically shown to keep the brain healthy into older age, most people consider learning a card game like poker or a table game like chess to be a chore. Podcast data shows that’s not the case.
Though listeners have to imagine cards and hands, poker podcasts have become incredibly popular. As such, subjects have become varied, covering the basics to in-depth interviews on shows led by pros like James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton.
Now, podcasts have become even more creative, combining strategy with entertainment in unique formulas, such as Jennifer Shahade’s The Grid. The Grid is an ambitious project that will cover every single hand playable in the world of poker.
Chess pros aren’t far behind in offering the same unique, informative content. The Perpetual Chess Podcast brings on the world’s top pros in witty interviews, while Cover Stories with Chess Life provides unique features on various chess topics and personalities.
Many podcasters agree that Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is one of the best podcasts. It was also one of the first to change out dry history lectures with in-depth, passionate views on some of the world’s most influential events. Details related to WWII and Alexander the Great are gory, political, and highly intriguing.
Similar to poker and chess podcasts, the focus of each history show shifts gear. There’s The History of Rome, which covers the vast story of Rome’s rise and fall across continents and centuries. Then there is 50 Things that Made the Modern, which focuses on historical achievements and inventions that have profoundly affected our lives today.
Those who want to sample something truly unique can check out The Memory Palace, which looks at history from hyper-specific points of view. Think: the emotional history of the Brooklyn Bridge. The title ‘The Memory Palace’ is itself a technique from ancient Rome related to storing pneumonic images.
For most people, technology can be more than a little mystifying. Topics like the Internet of Things (IoT) and cybercrime are discussed more and more often, but many people are playing catch up when it comes to complex terms and products—nonetheless follow a talk show about hot topics.
One of the most popular tech-based podcasts is called Hackable? Two cybersecurity experts guide listeners through topics each week, from cars that drive themselves to phishing. The hosts can be a bit dry, but the content is so neatly packaged and intriguing that following along is no problem.
Those looking to dive into the world of tech can check out Download. Download makes following the release of new technology (and its implications) easy; each week, Download discusses the most important trends and topics. Experts hash out what they like and dislike about new products, grounding complex ideas in day-to-day vernacular.