By David Christ
With the 2020 campaign beginning to heat up, Democrats are vying to become the eventual nominee for the party. Podcasts continue rapidly growing in popularity, and candidates have been quick to jump on the bandwagon.
A few characteristics that often make podcasts attractive to advertisers also make them a prime platform for candidates — namely younger and more engaged audiences. Many podcasts also provide a long-form format which provides candidates with a better platform to express their ideas rather than a short TV segment.
Here is the topology of the candidate’s podcast appearances since 2018:
In looking at all these connections, some things become clear. Here are three takeaways:
Pod Save America is definitely a big deal
Here are the top five podcasts by distinct candidate guest appearances:
Pod Save America is a progressive political podcast hosted by former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Tommy Vietor, Jon Lovett, and Dan Pfeiffer. Seven different candidates have appeared on the show since the beginning of 2018 (some of them multiple times). In 2017, the New York Times reported that Pod Save America averages 1.5 million listens per episode.
No wonder candidates are lining up for an appearance! While the show is generally a panel discussion about the news of the day, the episodes with candidates are one-on-one interviews. Elizabeth Warren’s February 21st appearance for instance, was her sitting down with Tommy and talking about subjects including medicare for all, climate change, Venezuela, Israel, senate politics, nuclear weapons, and more (I believe Donald Trump came up there once or twice).
These long-form interviews allow candidates to use their time to discuss their platforms and share their backgrounds to a friendly audience — many of whom will vote to nominate the next candidate in the presidential election.
The Bernie and Booker Show
Bernie has had two: The first one was “Bernie’s podcast” which ran from March 2017 to July 2018, and his current show is “Hear the Bern” which is hosted by his campaign’s press secretary Briahna Joy Gray. “Hear the Bern” features interviews with Bernie, his supporters, and even Ben from Vermont’s own Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream!
It appears that it’s tough to be a podcast host as well as a campaigner. Bernie Sanders has only been on a few of “Hear the Bern,” and Cory Booker last released an episode in February 2019. While having your own podcast might have the advantage of allowing the candidate to produce content in their voice and message, it is a bit like preaching to the choir. It appears that Bernie and Cory are prioritizing appearances on shows with established audiences rather than building their own during the campaign.
While entrepreneur Andrew Yang might have an outside shot at the nomination, he certainly has made a lot of podcast guest appearances (in fact he’s second only to Pete Buttigieg). His internet-savvy campaign has allowed him to go from obscurity to the debate stage alongside the front-runners.
The most note-worthy take-a-way about his podcast appearances is the variety of shows, many of which, other Democratic candidates, might shy away from. He’s appeared on the conservative commentator Ben Shapiro’s show as well as the Fox News Rundown. While neither show is particularly friendly territory for his idea of a universal basic income, he’s made it a point to try to cross party lines with his campaign.
His appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience has over three million views on YouTube alone. While the front-runners may get plenty of attention from more traditional forms of media, other candidates are using the exploding popularity of podcasts to their advantage.
Don’t like my insights into the podcast industry? Try for yourself! Whether you’re a Bernie Bro, a member of the Yang Gang, or whatever fans of Elizabeth Warren call themselves (Warrenites?), Check out https://www.poddb.me/ to see who and which podcast episodes we are curating.