No, you’re not alone in hearing Casper ads in your subconscious. Podcasts are still all the rage, and whether it’s generalists pontificating on the news of the day or insiders dropping industry insights, the market keeps growing.
Commuters rely on them (got a half hour to kill?), pop culture fans and niche hobbyists find community, and marketers use them to gain exposure. But despite being a specifically non-visual medium, podcasts have also emerged as a key space for designers, both as a source of knowledge and as a way to boost their personal brands. So where can you find inspiration over the airwaves? And what does it take to start making a podcast all your own?
Why podcasts? Why right now?
Truth be told, we’re in the midst of a pod-aissance; the concept dates all the way back to the ’80s, but thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones, over the last decade the percentage of Americans who have tuned in to at least one podcast has doubled, jumping to 60 percent.
It’s regularity that’s really drawing listeners in and keeping them hooked. Today, over 80 million Americans are weekly podcast listeners. And with real-time feedback and communities springing up each day, creators no longer need to wonder who out there is engaging with their show. Nor do podcast producers need to worry about constant promo; Discord servers and subreddits foster communities of listeners all their own.
Uniting listeners across various channels pays off when it comes to sustaining a fanbase, even on hyper-specific topics. On the 99% Invisible subreddit, for example, nearly 15,000 devotees express their thoughts about every episode, share photos of architectural and design peculiarities, or chat about what they’d like to see from future shows.
Talking design today
From discussions on the business of design to stories about left-field projects bound for history books, there’s no shortage of podcasts with designers in mind. In 2022, these are some of the best.
- Logo Geek: Hosted by British designer Ian Paget, the Logo Geek podcasts pulls back the curtain on what it takes to devise modern branding that sticks. The show covers the ins and outs of creating logos for the likes of NASA and Nintendo as well as honest advice for freelancers.
- 99% Invisible: The bellwether of design podcasts, 99% Invisible explores how design shapes our lives—even in the places we’d least expect. Now in its twelfth year of production, hit the catalog to find episodes ranging from the intricacies of trash can design to chronicles of covert tunneling between East and West Berlin.
- The It’s Nice That Podcast: Want to learn how the world’s leading designers built careers in creativity? Check out this newly-launched podcast from It’s Nice That, which features candid conversations with designers working across industries and mediums.
- The Design of Business | The Business of Design: In the digital age, design and business are more intertwined than ever. This podcast offers an inside look into how the two fields shape one another; interviews include design strategists and executives like Forest Young, who oversaw Uber’s 2018 redesign.
The tools of the podcast trade
Feeling inspired to add your own perspectives to the design ecosystem? Starting your own podcast has never been easier, and many of the tools you need are free. From recording to distributing it to the masses, here’s how you can hit the ground running.
If you’re seeking a real-deal digital audio workstation (DAW) without the hefty price tag, look no further than Audacity. A favorite among podcasters for its simplistic interface and multi-track editing capabilities, Audacity’s open-source software gives you all the basic effects you might need and functionality across Mac OS, Windows, and Linux.
Anchor’s goal is to make podcasting easy—and by all accounts, they’ve succeeded. Owned by parent company Spotify, Anchor has a built-in audio recorder that lets up to five people speak at once. Where music is concerned, you also get access to Spotify’s massive library (saving you a serious copyright headache).
After the recording and editing process is complete, the platform can publish on every major platform and gives you the option to activate ads and monetize.
If you want to get the highest quality audio possible with a wide range of built-in effects, it’s worth considering a full-fledged digital audio workstation (DAW). Though there are several popular DAWs with similar features—such as Ableton Live, Apple’s Logic Pro, or Pro Tools—many podcasters favor Adobe Audition.
If you’re a designer with a Creative Cloud license, Audition is included, whereas Ableton and Logic will set you back a few hundred dollars. With Audition, you get powerful tools for background noise reduction and audio restoration, an intuitive multi-track editing layout, and a simple exporting process.
So whether you need to keep on the pulse of design trends or want to add “internet radio host’ to your résumé, now is the time to embrace the pod.