Swapping screens for headphones during COVID-19

Published at Giraffe Consulting

In the past decade, podcasts have soared in popularity. More Australians than ever are ditching their screens and plugging in their headphones, with a 2019 study finding that 22% of Australians listened to a podcast in the last month. Those who listen average six podcasts a week, while 28% of regular listeners consume ten or more.

2020, and the global spread of COVID-19, has led to an even larger increase in podcasts listeners: Voxnest’s April data showing that global podcasts listens have increased by 42%.

It’s no surprise that people are turning to this source of news and entertainment during a difficult time. Podcasts are truly a remarkable medium, and if you’re not already tapping into this source of information and inspiration, now is the time to start!

Endless topics, endless entertainment

Podcasts are a great way to consume media. There are over 850,000 podcasts currently available on iTunes, covering an enormous range of topics. From current affairs to business to travel to vintage toys – there is a podcast for almost everything! Regardless of your interests or specific industry, there will be a podcast that appeals to you. Some are more broad and generalised (Australian politics, for example) while others are very niche (libraries in New York City). There’s also a range of styles, from more formal radio show styles to casual and conversational approaches. Some are produced by media professionals; others are just enthusiastic amateurs. Try a few podcasts and soon you’ll find your favourites.

Consume almost anywhere

One of the greatest advantages of podcasts are their accessibility. Podcasts vary in length, but generally they don’t take up much time, and are perfect for a mid-morning pick-me-up. They can be consumed anywhere and make it easy to multitask: learn about leadership while filing your tax return, and find out more about the news of the day while cooking dinner. It’s an easier way to consume content than having to devote your time and attention to reading a book or watching tv, and it can make what otherwise feels like “dead time” – a long drive for example – into a valuable learning experience, or even just an entertaining few hours.

Keeping you in the loop

Podcasts are the perfect medium for keeping up with the latest information. Because of the form of podcasts – short sections of audio recorded in segments – the content is generally varied and consistently interesting for the listener. Unlike books or television shows, you don’t need to devote a lot of time to a single topic; many shows will feature new guests or topics each episode. Even if you see a topic that doesn’t interest you, or a guest name you don’t recognise, you can easily begin listening and try it out. It’s easy for podcast programs to freshen up their content in response to audience feedback, because episodes are typically not created a long time in advance of being released to the public. The formal structures and systems of traditional media channels don’t apply to podcasts, so episodes can be produced quickly to respond to a moment. If you’re after content that is new and fresh, podcasts are perfect for you!

Build your tribe

Finally, podcasts build community. After listening to an episode on your phone, it’s easy to navigate to the show’s social media channels and enter into discussion with other subscribers about the latest topic or interviewee. Podcasters often release show notes and interact with subscribers online, giving loyal listeners further insight into their show. It’s a more interactive and exciting form of media than many others. Podcasters normally begin making a podcast because they are passionate about their topic, so the podcasts you love are usually made by people who are actually in your industry or interest group. And when you become a part of their online community, you can share your passion with them!

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