Millennials and Podcasts – The New Age of “Radio”


Back in 1980 the band The Buggles released a song called, “Video Killed the Radio Star” and for a long time that seemed like it would always be true. Generation X rocked out to MTV and video was king. And then Millennials came along. Truly these throughly modern young people would embrace video? Yes. They did. Digital videos, YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, virtual reality and Instagram have taken video and images to a whole new level. But then, these video voyeurs decided to throw us for a loop and become significant consumers of podcasts.


Podcasts! We honestly thought these were dead back in 2007. But podcasts have steadily grown over the past 13 years and in the past two years, popularity has exploded. Mostly due to Millennials who love the on-demand content for not just music and other entertainment, but for news programming as well. Millennials will binge-listen to podcasts as much as they binge-watch Netflix.

Podcasts have grown in popularity and have turned talk radio on it’s head. The uber-popular “Serial” podcast had people from every age group glued to their ear buds to find out more about a whodunit murder case. From how things work, to comedy shows, quiz shows and traditional news programs, podcasts have become a surprising favorite for millennials. Surprising, because in this age of super-tech, podcasts seem like a throwback to the Golden Age of Radio but instead of gathering around the radio, millennials take the show on the road, to work, to the gym and to Starbucks.

An interesting podcast by Diane Rehm called, “The Growth of Analog in a Digital World” touched on the resurgence of podcast2“analog” products such as vinyl records, flip phones and “brick and mortar” stores from online retailers such as Her guests discussed the reason these kinds of “analog” products are coming back into popularity, especially with younger people. Overall the growth in these areas is attributed not to nostalgia, as one would think, but rather, because they are different than digital products, and new to this generation. New and different, even though the technology is older.

So what does this mean for marketers? First, it means we need to definitely consider podcasts when it comes to consumer touchpoints for our brands — don’t write off the power of a well-told story and a beloved host. Second, familiarize yourself with the podcasts out there. Which podcasts are a better fit for your brand? Podcasts are fairly niche, so be sure you align with the podcasts that best fit your brand. Finally, how will you measure your ROI? Set an objective (sales is a given here) and track it with a special offer code or similar tool. Podcast advertising or sponsored content is expensive, but can help you reach your target market who will be less likely to tune your message out.

We asked some of the Baseline team members which podcasts they listen to. Most of the those who listen fall into the millennial generation. Here are their top picks.

  • Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me – a trivia show from NPR
  • Storycorps – a collection of the stories that are common to us all
  • Criminal – a true crime show in which each episode is a new story
  • Serial – an audio documentary of controversial cases and each season is a new story
  • The Splendid Table – a podcast about food, exotic and interesting
  • The Documentary (BBC) – a product of BBC, this program examines different stories of all types each week
  • This American Life – short stories from people with unique perspectives or unique experiences from American life
  • Modern Love – essays about love read by celebrities
  • Tiny Desk Concerts – listen to performances from musicians recorded at the host’s desk
  • Lore – true life scary stories (we’re told this one can be gory)
  • TED Radio Hour – new inventions, inspirational stories, TED Talks tackle interesting topics

The New York Times has some recommendations for podcast listeners too, with their best podcasts of 2016.

  • Code Switch – journalists reveal some of their personal experiences with race and identity
  • Homecoming – a fictional story about a traumatized veteran and the therapist who is helping him
  • Bad with Money – the host shares her tales of financial woe and invites others to share and offers advice even though she’s admittedly bad with money

Even if you’re not a millennial, you might give podcasts a listen. The ever-growing industry promises to bring enlightenment to listeners and has huge growth potential in ROI for marketers. And, don’t forget about “analog” technology — it might be just what catches the eye, mind and heart of your target market.