The highlights and hidden gems of podcasting in 2019
This year offered a lot of podcast gold. Here's what stood out
It's been an epic year for the world of podcasting.
From the launch of several groundbreaking series to the medium entering even further into the mainstream, audio lovers and creators alike had lots to celebrate in 2019.
CBC Podcasts checked in with industry creators and experts to see what stood out for them over the year. Here are the standouts.
2019's most inspiring content
"The Ballad of Billy Balls. It's my podcast pick of the year. I discovered it after all episodes had dropped and I binged it over the course of about five days. I couldn't stop listening. I started episode one thinking it was another true crime story only to be floored by the twist... The story is structured so well so from a podcaster's point of view, that's inspirational. On a personal level, it's thought provoking, funny and sad. I now want iO Tillett Wright to be my best friend."
– Justine Kelly, ABC Audio Studios
"Nothing matches Have You Heard George's Podcast?, from George the Poet, for inspiration this year. This dazzling pod consistently takes podcasting to a new level of artistry, social commentary and production magic."
– Julie Shapiro, Radiotopia from PRX
Too often we forget there are literally zero rules in podcasting.- Sean Rameswaram, Today, Explained
"Uncover: The Village was a really well-told true crime podcast, that was the opposite of exploitive. Just a great listen. It also managed to tell a story bigger than its subject, which is something we try very hard to do at Frequency."
– Jordan Heath-Rawlings, Frequency Podcast Network
"On the professional front, I've been inspired by what the podcast company Wondery has done with its Dr. Death podcast — or perhaps I should say Dr. LaMort or Dr. Muerte or 死亡医生. Yes, back in August, Wondery became the first to launch a set of translated podcasts across the world — 7 different versions. Here at the BBC World Service, I've been looking on with interest and admiration ... The Wondery approach is one that I'm sure many of us in 'podcast-land' will be looking to learn from."
– Jon Manel, BBC World Service
The hidden gems of the year
"Encyclopedia Womannica. It's a daily 5-minute podcast that profiles a different woman throughout history."
– Arielle Nissenblatt, Castbox
"Have you heard the WALKING podcast from Jon Mooallem? You should. Jon takes walks through the woods in the Pacific Northwest. It's an inspiration. Too often we forget there are literally zero rules in podcasting. Jon remembered."
– Sean Rameswaram, Today, Explained, Vox
"Richard's Famous Food Podcast. This show is quirky, fun, weird and very highly produced and entertaining. Richard experiments with sound, laughs at himself, and also tells entertaining and interesting stories."
– Annalise Nielsen, Frequency Podcast Network
"People Movers is great. It's a podcast entirely about escalators. It's specific, which is a daring thing to be."
– Ian Chillag, Everything Is Alive
"Gay Future podcast. Imagine this: it's 2062 and the Gay Agenda has taken over. It's a narrative sci-fi comedy, made in someone's bedroom but sounds like it's worth a million bucks. Someone please help them make a Season 2!"
– Arif Noorani, CBC Podcasts
Guilty pleasure listening
"All Fantasy Everything. It's silly, and pointless, and fun, and stupid and wonderful."
– Kevin Goldberg, Discover Pods
"The Chris Moyles Show on Radio X. It's a catch-up of the week, but if you're a fan of mostly puerile jokes, the occasional fart sound effect and a bit of showbiz, it's right up your street."
– James Cridland, Podnews.net
"I listen to a bunch of podcasts from former Bachelor alumni... They're loud and mostly dumb, but I can't get enough of them."
– Lisa Gabriele, Antica Productions
You should never feel guilty about the things you like.- Jody Avirgan, 30 for 30
"You should never feel guilty about the things you like. I listen to an ultimate Frisbee podcast (Sin the Fields) — does that count? They have great chemistry and I'm one of those people who is really into ultimate Frisbee."
– Jody Avirgan, 30 for 30
"Red Man Laughing. It's a brilliant podcast. I mean, it's my podcast, but it's brilliant and I feel guilty that I listen to every episode."
– Ryan McMahon, Makoons Media Group
"I simultaneously hate and kind of love Dax Shepherd's podcast, Armchair Expert. I find his long and rambling chat with his co-host to be terribly indulgent but the interview guests are always fabulous. His lack of proper interviewing training actually makes this hugely conversational and relatable."
– Kellie Riordan, ABC Audio Studios
"I listen to podcasts free of guilty feelings and recommend all others do the same."
– Sean Rameswaram
What do you hope 2020 brings?
"Creative risk taking will prevail, despite pressures from big money and media consolidation entering the podcasting industry."
– Leslie Merklinger, CBC Podcasts
"Fiction. There are some fantastic fiction podcasts being released at the moment — they're getting better and better all the time and I'm excited about what is next. "
– Justine Kelly
"More diverse voices in all aspects of the industry."
– Dila Velazquez, Curiouscast
As podcasting continues to grow, I'm excited to see what happens when the industry grows with it.- James Cridland, Podnews
"I'm excited for the further production of podcasts in community. The Thunder Bay Podcast by Canadaland, Crackdown by Garth Mullins and company, Justin Ling's work on The Village, all shows prove that when you give tools to communities to tell their own stories, they have incredible stories to tell. We need more of this in the podcast space in 2020."
– Ryan McMahon
"More expansive fiction that starts to look more like the breadth of genres that we're familiar with in other forms of media (books, TV, movies)... which I hope means more creatively experimental styles, stories, and structures."
– Ma'ayan Plaut, RadioPublic
"More listeners, more podcasters. As podcasting continues to grow, I'm excited to see what happens when the industry grows with it."
– James Cridland
Want to chat about your favourite podcasts of the year? Connect with us on social media and let's discuss! Find us @CBCPodcasts
Produced by Émilie Quesnel.