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I’m an avid podcast listener, but I also have a serious problem – I’m addicted to love, relationship and dating shows, partially as a result of living vicariously through others during the pandemic.
I truly love learning about other people’s real-life experiences and enjoy podcasts for this exact reason. The medium offers a raw and authentic view of the world, in contrast to social media, where images and experiences often feel manicured and impossibly perfect.
But why is this of any relevance to you?
Well, many dating shows talk about the art of deciphering the dating profile and figuring out what yours says about you. So, what if we could judge people based on their podcast listening feeds instead? What would it say about you? And what would it say about the 80 million podcast listeners in the US every week?
Are you ready to share your feed with the world?
Why podcasts are my new love language
According to Neilsen, the number of female podcast listeners in the US has increased by 76% since 2018. Women are driving significant gains in podcast engagement, and I can definitely relate, as I interact with the medium on a daily basis.
I consider myself a #podcastperson, and I truly believe your listening feed can share so much of who you are, just by the shows you follow and listen to – it’s astounding.
Consider every first date with a #podcastperson. It will always lead to a version of the following conversation:
Do you listen to podcasts? (If ‘NO’, end date. Just kidding…kind of.)
Who is your favorite podcaster?
When and how do you tend to listen?
What subjects interest you?
Do you have any podcast recommendations?
Oh, you actually have your own podcast? You must be so interesting…(maybe.)
My ‘podcast’ dating profile
OK, I’ve had the “podcast” conversation and the date is going well. You seem nice. Check. You love listening to podcasts. Check. Now it's my turn to get a little vulnerable.
I open up my podcast feed and share all you need to know about me, which I admit is a long list — but worth it. My feed is on Apple Podcasts, by the way, as I have a visual mind and prefer a white, minimalist background.
First up is A Slight Change of Plans from Pushkin Industries. I love that the host Dr Maya Shankar is a woman of color and a doctor, blending compassionate story-telling with the science of human behavior. I consider myself a storyteller, and actually took a few psychology courses in university. Both psychology and storytelling continue to be major interests in my life, and are recurring themes throughout my podcast feed.
Next is The Young Turks, which I recently subscribed to after meeting the hosts and production team at Podcast Movement in L.A. I align with the progressive stance of this show and love that the network was one of the first news media outlets online. The Young Turks offers important, timely information, with a sense of humor when called for.
I listen to a few other news shows with an American and European perspective (although I’m Canadian). In my opinion, The Daily offers the best perspective on breaking news, while The Intelligence offers thoughtful stories from around the world, covering politics, arts, culture, food, and more.
Episodes of The Intelligence are usually around 25 minutes long, which is perfect for getting ready in the morning. They bring on expert guests from around the world, which makes every episode unique. I love audio from the field, specifically Asia and the Middle East where I’ve lived, as it takes me back instantly with sounds of the street.
I also engage with politics in my own country and am a big fan of CANADALAND. The host Jesse Brown is one of the only whistleblowers in Canada calling out Big Telco, media companies, and various facets of government. I’m here for it.
Each week the show shares audience testimonials and an opportunity to support the network, which brings the energy of a grassroots movement to the forefront. They’re consistent in publishing and format (I always know what I’m getting), and they have a darker sense of humor, which I appreciate.
Next is Modern Love from the New York Times, a classic. The show checks a lot of boxes for me — storytelling, psychology, romance, and comedy. The stories of love “in all its glorious permutations” are written beautifully by real people, which adds another layer of humanity to the listening experience. Truthfully, I’ve binged every single episode.
Then there’s The Boston Globe’s Love Letters, which is the hopeless romantic’s response to the Savage Lovecast. Host Meredith Goldstein is a columnist and true podcast darling in the industry. The show dives into intimate stories of humanity, spanning more than just romantic love by covering friendship, family, and more. They’ve also built a community around the show, specifically via a thriving Facebook group where people who listen have actually become friends and even connected as romantic partners.
There’s also Wondery’s Twin Flames, which was a social listen, as my Acast team and I would discuss our thoughts each week. We thought the show would be the next Sweet Bobby, but alas we were slightly disappointed by the ending. We’re definitely waiting for the next jaw-dropping story to gossip about.
On that note, I have to touch on a title everyone is talking about: Normal Gossip. I heard about this show through word of mouth via my colleagues Becky and Sophia, which checks out perfectly. People in the podcast industry often say that discoverability is broken, and that word-of-mouth can be critical to building an audience – this is a testament to that. I’m much more easily swayed when it comes to podcast recommendations (versus TV, for example) and I’m addicted to this show.
I also have to mention This is Dating, which is my new favorite podcast — I even subscribed to their paywalled feed, which is the first time I’ve done so, to get early access to episodes. Truthfully, anything couples therapist Esther Perel is a part of, I’m there. She’s an executive producer on this project, where guests are set up on blind dates and listeners tune in as they’re coached through the experience. It’s an interesting mix of voyeurism and vulnerability, and the advice that’s offered is relatable and applicable to listeners, including myself. The show attempts to break out of heteronormative ideas of dating and relationships, which I appreciate as I evolve in the dating world.
Aside from dating shows, sometimes I just need a good laugh to take my mind off of serious issues, and not only is Random Order Podcast a show on my Acast Creator Network roster, it’s also a hilarious escape. The humor is somewhat specific to Toronto, so I can relate having grown up in the city. The hosts discuss everything that comes to mind, from laundry, to alien invasions, to BBQ sauce, in a free-flowing format that feels like a candid hangout. They also laugh at their own jokes, so how can you not laugh along?
Next is Am I Normal? from the TED Collective, hosted by Mona Chalabi who is a data journalist and writer of Iraqi descent. She takes on topics with an inquisitive and data-minded approach. For example, “What Box Should I Check?” is an episode where she dives into the New York Census, which has long excluded ‘Arab’ as a category under ‘ethnicity’. This podcast always makes me think about my preconceived notions by posing big questions and offering answers, based on both on data and conversations with experts, as well as proposing new, better-framed questions to consider.
Next is Magic Hour, a conversation series on photography where host Jordan Weitzman sits down with emerging and established photographers, publishers, and editors to discuss their work. I love hearing stories from living photographers about past legends, including Richard Avedon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Diane Arbus, and the like.
The show is absolutely brilliant and has actually been used as a teaching tool by photography and art professors. There’s even a website to accompany the podcast, where the host shoots a portrait of the guest in their space and subsequently shares some of their work, offering an interactive experience connecting both the audio and visual.
We already know I’m an Esther Perel stan, and I also love the show Where Should We Begin – which was in fact my first foray into podcasts. Each episode is an anonymous therapy session with Esther, where the listener is essentially a fly on the wall. Many of the couples’ intimate issues are a way in to discussing much broader societal issues at hand.
One of the episodes that stood out to me was about a South Asian-American couple that discussed their arranged marriage, and the challenges they were having with intimacy once married. They talked a lot about the patriarchy and how the wife was faced with challenges surrounding the systems in place. As a South Asian woman born in the Western world, this episode really resonated with me.
Last but not least is Still Processing from The New York Times, which might just be my favorite podcast of all time. Hosts Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham work through their personal thoughts, ideas and opinions together in real time, covering television, film, books and music — as well as the culture of work, dating, the internet, and how these all fit together. In my opinion, this show works well because of impeccable host chemistry, and their willingness to be vulnerable, sensitive, and authentic – when having tough conversations, but also when having fun. When I get nostalgic, I’ll listen to old episodes and hear what they thought about Kanye in 2016. The episodes really are mementos from a different time that I like to go back to.
And that’s me
It’s possibly more than you needed to know, and that’s from just one podcast feed.
So, the next time you’re on a date, or making the first move on a dating app, why not ask, “Can I see your podcast feed?”. You never know where it could take you — perhaps to your next great relationship, or (even better) to your next favorite podcast.
Narisa Ladak is the Creator Network Director for Canada at Acast, the world’s largest independent podcasting company. We believe podcasters of all sizes, from around the world, should be empowered to find their audience and make money from their craft – on their own terms. We champion a thriving, profitable, fair, and open ecosystem, and we’re here to help more creators make more money. If that sounds like a match for you, swipe right (or email me at email@example.com).
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