Podcasts have been gaining popularity as news distribution channel over the past decade, offering a unique blend of entertainment, education, and engagement. Among sea of podcasts available, one that has managed to carve out a niche for itself is "Stuff You Should Know." This podcast, as the name suggests, is dedicated to discussing and dissecting the issues that matter most in our world today, from climate change to social justice, from technology advancements to mental health.
The "Stuff You Should Know" is more than just a platform for conversation, it's a call to action, a challenge to its listeners to not just be passive consumers of information, but to become more informed, engaged, and proactive citizens. Each episode is a deep dive into a topic that affects our lives and our future, presented in a way that is both accessible and engaging.
The hosts of "Stuff You Should Know" Josh Clark and Charles Wayne bring a unique blend of expertise, passion, and charisma to each episode. Their ability to break down complex issues into digestible, understandable segments is a testament to their skills as communicators and educators. But it's not just about the information they provide. It's about the way they inspire their listeners to care, to take action, and to make a difference.
Liked by youth
The rise of "Stuff You Should Know" is particularly noteworthy in the context of the changing media consumption habits of younger generations. Study conducted by Yoof Agency have shown that more and more young people (47% of Gen Zers engaging with podcasts in the past month) are leaning towards audio content consumption over traditional forms of media. This shift is driven by a variety of factors, including the convenience of listening on-the-go, the intimacy of the audio format, and the desire for more in-depth, nuanced content.
"Stuff You Should Know" is perfectly positioned to cater to this growing demand. The podcast format allows for a level of depth and nuance that is often lacking in other forms of media, making it an ideal platform for exploring the complex issues that the show tackles. Moreover, the audio format allows listeners to engage with the content in a way that is convenient and flexible, fitting seamlessly into the busy lives of young people today.
Josh Clark said in 2018 statement, after "Stuff You Should Know" reached 1 billion downloads :
“Stuff You Should Know” was born out of a curiosity that Chuck and I both have about everything. We aren’t experts on any of the topics we discuss on the show, we just happen to be good at talking together about what we’ve dug up and I think that makes the podcast accessible and enjoyable for everyone. Reaching one billion downloads has really validated what we’ve built over the past 10 years and it makes us excited about the next 10 too. It’s an amazing milestone for us and we’re grateful to all the listeners around the world who helped grow that number.
What are they doing differently?
"Stuff You Should Know," hosts have gained significant popularity by leveraging their unique backgrounds as writers for "How Stuff Works" to transform complex, well-researched topics into engaging and digestible audio content. Their ability to take a deep dive into a wide array of subjects, from the mechanics of ballpoint pens to the intricacies of voter suppression, has resonated with a broad audience seeking to understand the world around them in a more profound way.
The hosts' conversational style, complete with natural stumbles and off-the-cuff remarks, has been a key differentiator. This approach creates a sense of camaraderie and friendship with listeners, who often feel like they're eavesdropping on an interesting conversation rather than listening to a scripted show. This intimate connection has been further amplified by the hosts' commitment to engaging with their audience, whether through weekly write-ins or face-to-face meetings at live-tapings.
During the pandemic, the podcast demonstrated remarkable adaptability by swiftly transitioning to remote recording. This not only ensured continuity of the show but also provided a source of comfort and distraction for listeners during a challenging time. In fact, the pandemic led to an increase in listenership as more people sought out podcasts for entertainment and solace.
The podcast's commitment to truth, accuracy, and science has been a significant draw, particularly in an era marked by misinformation. They approach to politics is also noteworthy as it focuses on fact-based discussions rather than partisan debates, providing a refreshing respite for many listeners amidst the often polarizing news cycle. For instance, when addressing voter suppression, they delve into the facts behind the issue, explaining why it's not a matter of "both sides" but a specific problem that needs to be addressed.
The creation of the "Best of Stuff" podcast playlist by iHeart has also contributed to the show's popularity. This curated list of episodes helps listeners navigate the vast array of topics covered by the show, making it easier for them to find content that interests them.
The rise of "Stuff You Should Know" podcast provides a blueprint for media brands venturing into podcasting. Here are seven actionable strategies derived from their success:
Experiment with Formats: The podcast format allows for a lot of creativity and experimentation. "Stuff You Should Know" has experimented with different episode formats, from deep dives into single topics to roundtable discussions with guest experts. Media brands should be open to experimenting with different formats to find what works best for their content and audience.
Leverage Your Strengths: Josh Clark and Charles Wayne have a unique blend of expertise, passion, and charisma that they bring to each episode. They leverage their strengths as communicators and educators to make complex issues accessible and engaging. Media brands should consider what unique strengths they can bring to their podcasts.
The success of "Stuff You Should Know" can guide other brands to create impactful podcasts. By identifying a unique niche, fostering audience engagement, leveraging inherent strengths and experimenting with formats media brands can effectively resonate with listeners and distinguish themselves in the competitive podcasting landscape.