On-demand audio has not only become mainstream, but established itself as a powerful vehicle for connecting with large, loyal and content-hungry audiences. According to Edison Research’s 2015 Infinite Dial Study, 46 million Americans listen to podcasts each month. New York Public Radio was the first in public radio to produce podcasts, and it is now one of the country’s leading podcast producers.


Radiolab dominated the on-demand audio marketplace and was consistently in the top 10 on iTunes. For the fiscal year, Radiolab’s on-demand episodes were accessed approximately 4.9 million times per month. For the South by Southwest festival, Radiolab partnered with Detour, a San Francisco startup that creates location-based audio tours, to produce an innovative project that tells the story of an Austin-based murder mystery. The project was released during South by Southwest so that attendees could experience it while in town. The Austin American-Statesman reported that the tour “could be the most compelling digital experience at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive.” Download “The Year That Broke Austin.”

Freakonomics Radio continued its incredible success this year as Stephen Dubner examined topics such as “Why Doesn’t Everyone Get the Flu Vaccine?” and “Could the Next Brooklyn Be…Las Vegas?Freakonomics Radio has been in the top 10 on iTunes since its debut, and its on-demand episodes were accessed approximately 4.5 million times per month in Fiscal Year 2015.

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin launched its third season in November 2014. The first episode featured This American Life host Ira Glass, who compared notes with Alec on interviewing, the afterlife, religion, fact-checking and how to find your reportorial voice. Other episodes in the third season featured Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore and John McEnroe.

Note to Self (formerly New Tech City), hosted by Manoush Zomorodi, has developed a national following and is consistently one of the top tech podcasts. In January and February 2015, Note to Self coordinated the audience engagement project and series “Bored and Brilliant.” The project gave listeners challenges aimed at helping them detach from their electronic devices and spend more time thinking creatively. More than 21,000 people participated in the innovative project, and the “Bored and Brilliant” challenge is now being packaged for distribution and deployment by other local public radio stations across the country.

Death, Sex & Money continued its strong audience growth in Fiscal Year 2015. BuzzFeed named it one of “12 new podcasts that will make you a better human,” and the Guardian called Anna Sale’s interviewing skills “the best in the business.” It is consistently ranked among the top podcasts on iTunes, with provocative and heartfelt episodes exploring, for example, couples who stay together through gender transitions, a daughter coming to terms with her father’s secret gay life and survival lessons from the fabulous Ellen Burstyn. Listen here.


New in Fiscal Year 2015, the Hodgepod newsletter offers 120,000-plus subscribers a weekly digest of diverse and enlightening podcast recommendations as curated by James Ramsay, a bright young fellow in the Digital Content department who did not write this description. To receive his fantastic recommendations each Friday, do subscribe.