How to Create an Effective Call To Action (CTA) for Your Podcast

Even if you don’t listen to podcasts at all, you’ll probably be aware that ‘Subscribe and follow!’ ‘Rate and review!’ and ‘Share this podcast!’ are common requests from podcasters. They are meant to encourage listeners to take these actions, with the hope that it will help the podcast grow. But the problem is, these types of call to action (CTA) are so common they have become something of a cliché. At this year’s International Women’s Podcast Awards, host Deborah Francis-White even asked us to rate and review her hosting skills.

The result is that most listeners are likely to ignore generic CTAs at best, and at worst get annoyed at hearing them too often. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop asking your listeners to help you. Instead, you just need to think about how to craft an effective call to action, and pinpoint a unique way to use it in your show.

What is the purpose of your CTA?

Before you can nail down your call to action as a phrase, you need to understand the purpose of CTAs. Of course, literally speaking the point of asking listeners to “rate and review” is to get good ratings and reviews for your podcast. But did you stop to think why ratings and reviews are actually helpful to podcasters? (Or indeed, if they even are – according to Apple Podcasts, reviews and ratings are not even a factor in their charts and featured shows.)

To make sure you create a good call to action, you need to start by thinking about the reason for them in a broader sense. Generally speaking, most CTAs will fall under the umbrella of one of three reasons, and it’s worth thinking about what you want your audience to help with the most:

1. Money

Some calls to action are more directly about asking for financial support. Asking listeners for donations, subscriptions or directing them towards merchandise and paid-for content is one of the more obvious CTAs from podcasters.

2. Marketing

One of the best ways to grow your audience organically, without a marketing budget, is to use your audience. According to the latest MIDAS Survey from RAJAR, “Listeners claim that ‘Word of Mouth’ and ‘Social Media’ are their go to sources to find new Podcasts.” A good marketing-based call to action will encourage your listeners to recommend your podcast, and spread the word about your show for you.

3. Content

Asking your listeners for their stories or questions is a great way to build community, but it also provides you with content that can be used in future episodes. Closet Confessions is a great example of a podcast that does this – their ‘cousin confessions’ are stories from listeners that are shared in separate episodes. Their CTA is on-brand for the podcast format and style, speaking directly to the community of ‘cousins’.

Who are you asking?

When you’ve decided what you want your listeners’ help with, it’s good to think about who your listeners are. This will help you narrow down the types of things you can ask from them. For example, you could check your podcast-hosting platform to see where people are based or what app they use to listen to your show. If most of your listens are on Spotify, you can build this into your CTA.

And where are they when you ask?

Perhaps more important than who is listening is thinking about what they are doing when they listen. The MIDAS report also tells us that 94% of people listen to podcasts alone, and only 19% of people are ‘relaxing/doing nothing in particular’. That means that over 80% are doing something, such as driving, exercising, cooking, etc. Some standard CTAs might be difficult to do in these situations.

So what does a good CTA sound like?

Once you’ve started thinking about these specifics, you can start creating your own call to action that stands out from the crowd. You want to make it as easy as possible for listeners to do the action you suggest, and here are some things that can help encourage them:

1. Be realistic

When you’re deciding how people can help, think about what is reasonable to ask from the majority of your listeners. Asking your listeners to share the podcast with everyone they know isn’t realistic, so they may ignore the request entirely. But it is realistic to ask them to share it with one friend.

2. Make it specific

A call to action that gives specific instructions is easier to follow and harder to ignore. For example, rather than the generic “leave a rating and review” you could tell listeners “if you’re listening in Apple Podcasts, tap to rate us 5 stars now”. Rather than “share this podcast” you could encourage listeners to “take a screenshot of this episode and share in your Instagram stories.” A specific call to action means people aren’t overwhelmed with options and they don’t have to think about it as much.

3. Make it real

Your call to action has to really come from you as a host or podcast team. Think back to the purpose of your CTA – what is the real reason you want people to do the action you’re asking them to? For example, in the Wanna Be podcast, Imriel does use a broad CTA, but there is a sincere reason why: “If Lirian’s story resonated with you, please do consider sharing this podcast with others. Let’s spread the word about the empowering journeys of trailblazers like Lirian”.

4. Give your listeners a reason

If you’re asking for their help, think about what you can offer listeners in return. It doesn’t have to be extra content or merchandise – listeners love to feel appreciated by the host, and hear their name on the show. A podcast that made listener shoutouts a big part of the production was Potterless, who thanked all the ‘Producer Level Patrons’ in the credits.

Pinpoint YOUR call to action

The last thing to think about when creating your CTA is whether there is something specific to your topic that you can bring in. Think about taking a standard call to action, and adding an addition or pun that is unique to your show. A good example of this is the Sticky Bun Boys podcast. The show is a watchalong of the Great British Bake Off, but with some conversations about dating and queer culture. With these themes in the show, the hosts have given their Patreon subscription the name ‘Only Flans’ to reference both the baking and the social platform with a similar name.

How many CTAs should you use and where should you do it?

It can be useful to think about your call to action like a good advert – you’re just advertising yourself! Adverts usually fall in three places (pre-roll before the episode begins, mid-roll like a commercial break and post-roll after the credits) and your call to action is likely to fit in similar places. Just like adverts, you can create stand-alone CTAs that can be inserted separately to the episode, or you can do it as part of your intro and outro. You want to limit the amount you ask of your audience so don’t have too many calls to action.

But there is no specific rule for where you place your call to action, and it comes back to making sure you are staying real to you. Try experimenting with where you feel most comfortable saying the phrase you have chosen.

Here are a few examples of CTAs:

“If you follow any of the advice in this episode, send us a voicenote on Whatsapp to tell us how it worked for you – 070-000-000 – we’ll share some of your messages in the next episode”

“If you like something a guest says, take a screenshot of your podcast app and share it on Instagram stories”

“Share this episode in your work group chat and tell them why you like it”

“Take a picture of where you are when you listen to this and share it on socials. Don’t forget to tag us and we’ll reshare as many as we can!”

“If you’re listening on Apple Podcasts, tap to rate us 5 stars now – it helps people decide whether to listen to us…”

“Before we start, I just wanted to let you know that you can become a paid subscriber on Substack, Patreon or Apple Podcasts, and you’ll get access to exclusive content. Subscriptions really help us, so if you are in a position to do so, head to to find out more.”

7 Food Podcasts That Are Good For Your Soul

Many podcast apps file food podcasts under the umbrella of the ‘Arts’ category. But whilst it’s true that good cooking can be an art form, podcasts about food are often about so much more than that.

Food has strong social connections and often goes alongside the time we spend with friends and family. It can connect us to cultures, whether that is enjoying the meals of our heritage or a new dish on our travels. Yet at the same time, the ingredients we use are often bound up in complicated histories, from the spice routes across continents to the origin of our coffee.

With all these aspects to food, it is no wonder that food podcasts are so popular with listeners – and after all, the potential audience is very wide because eating is something we all have to do!

Whatever aspect of food you want to explore, these seven podcasts have the recipe for your next listen.


Created by Natasha Miller, Bitter/Sweet is an offshoot of her brand, Miller Libertine (which creates sensory food experiences). But this show goes well beyond any branded podcast. The guests are guided through telling the story of their most memorable meal, with gentle prompts from Natasha to describe aspects like the surroundings and atmosphere. As bookends to the guest’s story, Natasha gives us her own memories of her mother’s cooking, which are tied up with grief after her recent passing. What results is a beautiful buffet of episodes, all less than twenty minutes long, that you can graze on. – listen here.


Named after the German word for ‘delicious’, ‘tasty’, or ‘mouth-watering’, Lecker is a podcast exploring what and how we eat. Lucy Dearlove has been producing and hosting the show since 2016, and the back-catalogue offers a range of interviews, documentary and audio-art. As well as standalone episodes, there are short series that dive into (often very) specific subjects in detail – for example, ‘Blasstal!’ explored the food and folklore on the Isle of Man (blasstal is the Manx word for ‘tasty’). If you’re a fan of more longform conversations, Lucy also talks to the authors of food-related books in the monthly Lecker Book Club episodes. – listen here.

Should You Really Eat That?

A fascinating new show from SBS in Australia, Should You Really Eat That? investigates cultural food trends and popular questions about diet in the modern world. Should you really add salt to your coffee because TikTok told you to? Do we need to avoid white rice, even when it’s a staple of many cultures? Food writer Lee Tran Lam untangles these questions by exploring the social, cultural and nutritional facts about the food and drinks we consume. With insights from chefs, dietitians and other experts, this helps listeners decipher the dietary headlines to make eating choices that are right for them – listen here. 

The Black Kitchen Series

A recent winner at The International Women’s Podcast Awards, The Black Kitchen Series is a podcast from the USA that explores food from the Black perspective. The most recent ‘Innovators’ series focused on unearthing people who are changing the face of food. What’s lovely is how host Jade Verette brings honesty and anecdotes that help global listeners understand the cultural significance of the topics: she leads us into the episode on Black veganism by telling us “When I hear the word ‘vegan’ it feels real white. And when I hear ‘soul food’ it feels real Black.” We get to explore with her why that distinction is inaccurate, as she meets a chef making vegan soul food popular – listen here. 

Your Mama’s Kitchen

In this podcast from Audible, journalist Michele Norris asks her guests to “tell me about your mama’s kitchen.” The question of course opens up conversations about meals, but also about identities – and because the show is produced by Higher Ground (Barack and Michelle Obama’s media company) we get to learn about some big guests. Michelle Obama’s episode lets us hear about her mother’s red rice cooked in a too-small apartment. Actor Andy Garcia’s episode starts with fried spam, but gives us an insight to his family’s exile from Cuba after the Bay of Pigs Invasion. This is a great one to listen to whilst making your own dinner tonight – listen here.

Whisky Sisters

A slight stretch on the ‘food’ theme, but whisky (and whiskey) has such historical and cultural significance that it lends itself to the theme of this list. The Whisky Sisters podcast really opens up the world of whisky, from helping newcomers learn how to taste, to exploring women’s role in the whisky industry. Hosts Inka Larissa and Jennifer Rose are based in Scotland, so there is an emphasis on Scotch, but they also travel via their tastebuds to other countries – a particularly unexpected one being the first ever whisky distillery in Italy. The rock theme music and stings also add some fun to the listening experience – listen here.

Sharing Plate

Lara Bishop speaks to people who have made the UK their home, and uses the subject of food to explore their sense of self and place. But the fact that every guest is either a refugee or started their life in the UK as a refugee adds an extra level of meaning to these conversations. We of course get to hear about the meals themselves, but we also get to hear the significance of finding a shop that sells the ingredients needed for that meal. Listening to these seemingly small aspects after first-hand accounts of life in a war zone helps listeners realise that even the smallest thing can be a big help in establishing yourself in a place – listen here.

7 reasons you need a transcript for your podcast (and not just for access)

Offering transcripts for podcasts isn’t something that everyone does yet. Many podcasters – including big production companies and broadcasters – still see transcripts as extra to the audio content. In the UK transcripts are rarely made available for BBC audio content.

But it is becoming more common to transcribe podcast content, in large part because we need to make the audio accessible to those that can’t hear it. In the USA, SiriusXM is currently facing a lawsuit for failing to provide transcripts for its podcasts.

Many people are starting to acknowledge the necessity of transcripts for podcasts, and it goes beyond accessibility – there are several benefits to podcasters as well.

Read on to find out why you need to have a transcript for your podcast.

It makes your podcast more accessible

Starting with the obvious reason you need a transcript – it means you can reach an audience beyond listeners. According to the British Deaf Society, there are an estimated 9 million people in the UK who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

But that’s not the only audience you might be missing – people who have less English might use transcriptions to help understand spoken content, and of course some people just consume content visually.

Whilst these people might not listen to podcasts, they might still benefit from your content, and a transcript is the easiest way to make audio accessible to them.

It helps journalists write about your podcast

If you’re looking to get press for your podcast, having a transcript is a real bonus. Journalists writing about podcasts listen to a lot of shows, and they won’t always (if ever) be taking notes as they listen.

A good transcript can help them find accurate quotes to use in articles and reviews, check spellings, and find timecodes for a part they’d like to relisten to. This all makes the journalist’s job easier, and you want to make writing about your podcast as easy as possible.

It helps you repurpose content

Transcripts shouldn’t be seen as extra content, but they can help you create extra content. If you want to make social media posts, blog posts or other written content to go alongside your podcast, it is much easier to start with a written version of your episode.

You can use the full transcript to pull quotes for socials, or you can edit the script down to create a blog-style post. However you repurpose content, it is much quicker to do it from a transcript than it is from audio.

It helps with SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about making your content easy to find. If you have your own website for your podcast, uploading your transcripts adds extra content and more mentions of keywords that can be found by search engines.

To add extra SEO value, consider adding some relevant images to your transcript pages so you can use your keywords in their alt-text (the text that describes the image). These alt-text descriptions count towards search-engine indexing, meaning that your podcast’s website is more likely to be found for your keywords.

It helps you fact-check

Hosts and guests give their audiences information all the time, and it’s important that information is always correct. You could stop to fact-check as you are recording, take timecodes to remind you or fact-check during editing, but transcripts make this process much quicker.

Here’s an extra tip: whilst you are recording, have a set phrase you say when you know you’ll want to check something later, for example, ‘future me’. ‘Future me, check that date’ or ‘future me, confirm the pronunciation’. That way you can search the transcript for that phrase (using CTRL + F, or COMMAND + F) rather than scroll through the whole audio.

It helps your guests engage with the interview

It may seem strange to us as audio makers, but many guests won’t listen to their episode after recording, even if you specifically ask them to. This might be because they are busy, but it might be because most people don’t actually like listening to their own voice. Sending your guests transcripts at the same time you send finished audio can be a really good way of helping them re-engage in your interview. Transcripts remind them about the conversation, it helps them find quotes to share and helps them avoid that awkward ‘do I sound like that?’ feeling.

It keeps your content with you

The last thing worth considering is who will offer transcripts if you don’t do it yourself. Spotify is rolling out its own transcripts for all podcasts on its platform and as RSS feeds are open, there is nothing to stop other platforms hosting transcripts of your shows. On the one hand, this seems like a good step for accessibility.

But these are going to be automatic transcripts, and won’t be checked for accuracy. Mistakes can be worse for access if it obscures or changes meaning, and this is more likely to occur in the less-common and more specialist content.

It also takes this content away from the creator and brings listeners to the big platforms, not where you want your listeners to go (such as your website). This is great for places like Spotify that want to increase their market share of listeners. But it means you are competing against them for SEO.

Offer your own transcripts, and you are more likely to keep your audience coming to you for the right information.

How to get transcripts

Now that you know the merits of having a transcript for your podcast, how do you get transcripts? There are several ways depending on your time and money budgets.

You could transcribe episodes yourself. This ensures that transcripts are accurate, but it is time consuming – even for fast transcribers it will take 2-3 times the length of the audio (so a one hour conversation could take three hours to transcribe).

The other option for highly accurate transcripts is to buy a human transcription. There are loads of services that offer human transcription, and prices vary but you’ll be paying for the time of the transcriber and how quickly you want a turnaround – tighter deadlines cost more.

The good news for those on a tight budget is that AI has come on substantially, and auto-transcriptions are very accurate now. If you have clear audio, auto-transcription services like Rev, and Temi will often only need small corrections. It is still important to give transcripts a read through for accuracy (particularly if you are sending to journalists) because strong accents and less-common names and topics can be especially difficult for AI.

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Here’s what you missed at International Women’s Podcast Awards 2023

The winners of the International Women’s Podcast Awards 2023 were announced at a ceremony in London on Monday evening. Created by Naomi Mellor of Everybody Media, the IWPAs aim to raise the profile of women and diverse genders within the podcast industry worldwide.

Now in its third year, the event continues to grow, pulling in people, entries and sponsors from further afield. This year was the second time the ceremony took place at The Conduit, a collaborative community space near Covent Garden that accommodated a crowd of nearly 200.

I (Francesca) was at the event and met up with Amber, who was one of the judges for the awards and representing Content Is Queen on the night. You can see a short video of her evening over on Instagram (she enjoyed the gorgeous nibbles, drinks and atmosphere!).

This year’s event was once again hosted by Deborah Frances-White of The Guilty Feminist podcast, and her scripted jokes about sanitary towels (and jokes about the Tories and Brexit that were, by her own admission, not vetted beforehand) hit a receptive audience. But it was the solidarity of shared experiences that got the biggest cheers. Questions like “who’s a leader? Who’s tired?” met agreement across the room.

Representing Diverse Genders

Although the name of the awards highlights the passion for women podcasters, the tagline of the awards has been changed to ‘the women and people of diverse genders’. The IWPAs have been inclusive of non-binary and trans identities from the start, and clarified this in the award criteria in previous years.

This change in wording for the tagline makes this more explicitly clear. Guests at the event could pick-up badges from the entrance saying “ask me my pronouns”, which is a small touch they have offered each year.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion on Display

Naomi has previously told Content Is Queen that the goal of the awards is accessibility, and this ethos was evident at the event. Despite the open bar and nibbles, entry fees and ticket prices were relatively low. This is in part thanks to the bursary funds from Amazon Music, Wondery and Mint & Co that the IWPAs continue to cultivate.

Refreshingly, the application process for bursary tickets to the event was a simple and very quick form and a “no questions asked” acceptance that circumstances that might require a complimentary ticket.

DEI was not a cursory part of the event, but was on display. One of the event’s consultants, Sylvie Carlos was highlighted earlier in the year on social media as a consultant with a focus on equity and inclusion, and was thanked publicly on the night.

There are still areas where inclusivity could be increased to ensure more people can feel comfortable. With the music and lighting in particular, sensory overload was an issue for some people. The IWPA team had the Ubuntu Lounge on the 3rd floor and the podcast studio on the 2nd floor as designated quiet spaces if people needed, but these were not made as obvious as they could have been. Naomi said to us via email “myself and the team are aware of the importance of highlighting and emphasising these spaces better for those that might make use of them next year”.

Content Is Queen has always championed the fact that inclusion is a process, not an outcome, and we look forward to seeing the process and development in the future.

Award Winners

When the awards started in 2021, there were a modest eight categories. This year, eleven winners were announced, with two new categories – ‘Moment of Compelling Storytelling’ and ‘Moment of Podcasting Panache in a Language Other Than English’.

Except for the final award, (presented by a representative of sponsor Shure) all the awards were presented by wonderful producers and leaders in the audio space, who we’ve noted by each award.

Moment of Behind-the-Scenes Brilliance
Presented by Chloe Straw

Winner – Spygate
Runner-up – Freeway Phantom

Moment of Comedy Gold
Presented by Lily O’Farell

Winner – Sanctum Unmasked
Runner-up – Single Sounds

Moment of Compelling Storytelling
Presented by Meera Kumar

Winner – Unreformed: The Story of the Alabama Industrial School for Negro Children
Runner-up – Discovery: In Search of Stardust

Moment of Dramatic Tension
Presented by Katrina Ridley

Winner – How To Become a Dictator
Runner-up – British Scandal

Moment of Entrepreneurial Inspiration
Presented by Naomi Mellor

Winner – The Black Kitchen Series: Innovators
Runner-up – Modern Persian Food

Moment of Insight From a Role Model
Presented by Jaja Muhammad

Winner – Feminist Files
Runner-up – Threshold
Runner-up – Celebrity Catch-up: Life After That Thing I Did

Moment of Podcasting Panache in a Language Other Than English
Presented by Talia Augustidis

Winner – Costa Nostra
Runner-up – Réparations

Moment of Raw Emotion
Presented by Mathilda Mallinson

Winner – Linda Marigliano’s Tough Love
Runner-up – 2 Lives
Runner-up – Nobody should believe me

Moment of Touching Honesty
Presented by Megan Bradshaw

Winner – Get Birding
Runner-up – Bitter/Sweet

Moment of Visionary Leadership
Presented by Leanne Alie

Winner – The Ten News
Runner-up – The Negotiators

Award For Changing The World One Moment At A Time
Presented by Jack Drury from Shure

Winner – The TMI Project Story Hour
Runner-up – Wander

Congratulations to all the winners and to everyone behind the event for a great evening. When the hosts of the Top 25 podcasts in the UK are majority white, straight and male, the global success of this event is testament to the talent out there that just needs to be championed. As the awards hashtag says #WeHaveThingsToSay. Here’s to next year’s awards!

Who’s behind the Independent Podcast Awards?

The first Independent Podcast Awards took place earlier this week, in Kings Place London. The new event ‘seeks to celebrate the truly independent talent of UK-based podcasters who don’t have the financial backing of brands to support them’ and were launched by whynow Media in conjunction with the Verbal Diorama podcast – itself an indie.

But who are the people behind the IPAs? Our new freelance writer, Francesca Turauskis, was part of this year’s advisory board. She sat down before the ceremony with award Founders Emma Turner and Em McGowan, and asked them to give us some insight into the people and processes behind these awards.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

FT: What was the origin of the awards?

EM McGOWAN: I’ve been an indie podcaster for several years and I’d put myself forward for various awards because I genuinely thought, “well, I should just give it a go. There’s no harm in it”. And obviously every single time I heard nothing. When you look at some of the bigger podcast awards, it’s very rare that you will see an independent podcast in the shortlist. But I was starting to hear conversations from other podcasters who were questioning, what do we need to do to stand out?

I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if there was an award ceremony that focused on those independent podcasts? And so I actually talked to Simon [Brew – head of Publishing at whynow] and it was through him the discussions with whynow started. And I can’t even remember when that was, 18 months ago, probably even longer ago now.

FT: And how do Simon and you know each other?

EM: I’m a writer for Film Stories, and we’ve known each other for longer than Simon cares to admit!

FT: And so that was the link into whynow’s office. Emma, when you first heard about the Independent Podcast Awards, what was the draw?

EMMA TURNER: I was working at whynow as a freelancer, but the CEO [Gabriel Jagger] wanted to start an events division, so my remit was to create some events from scratch. I went to him with a couple of proposals, one being the Independent Podcast Awards, and he actually said, first of all, “why would you do that?” – I’m being very honest here – and I was like “whynow is all about celebrating independent talent, arts and cultural talent that probably wouldn’t get covered anywhere else.” Naturally the Independent Podcast Awards fits in really well with that. As with most events there was a big discussion about the practicalities before I was given the go-ahead, but we got there!

FT: And so then the next steps would be thinking about an advisory board?

ET: Yeah – Em’s a podcaster. I’m an event person, but there’s a whole part of the [podcast] industry that we didn’t completely know. So it was trying to get people that have that knowledge base and context as well.

EM: Me and Emma as two cis-het white women, there’s obviously certain things that we can point to and say, “that is something that speaks to us personally.” But I think it was really important to both of us that we had a very diverse number of voices, because everyone’s experience with podcasting is very different. We didn’t want it to be a place that seems to highlight and support one group of people –

ET: Middle-aged White guys…

EM: Because there are, let’s be honest here, a lot of middle-aged white guys and just white guys in general in podcasting. And that is a stone cold fact. And when it comes to being recognised, it does seem like there are the same kind of shows that continually get recognised. We obviously don’t want to put shade on anyone, we believe that there’s room for everyone in this space. And I know what’s important to me, and Emma knows what’s important to her, but as a podcaster of colour or as an LGBTQ podcaster, what is it that you are looking for in this situation? We didn’t want to make something that only suited us. That was really important.

FT: Do you think that you hit those points you were aiming for, in the advisory board and the entries?

ET: I would say more so in the entries. I think we could be more diverse on the board. But it was really pleasing that the shortlist does seem to be such a range of people and subjects and people from different backgrounds, communities. It does seem like we have done quite well. And again, I’m sure we could do better, but for a first year, I think we have done pretty well.

FT: With the award categories, did you have a good idea of what you wanted from the start? And did the categories change at all?

EM: We had a reasonably good idea of the categories that we wanted. Then they evolved as the event evolved, because I think we quickly realised that maybe we should have thought of some other things.

ET: We actually added in a few categories. A couple of people got in touch and said, “oh, would you think about adding in a children’s category?” So we straight away added in ‘Children & Young Adults’. And then once we closed for entries, the ‘Educational’ category had something like 50 entries, which is amazing, but that is a lot of listening [for judges]. And also it cuts down on how many can be shortlisted and how many winners you can have, which sort of goes against what we were trying to achieve in representing lots of different areas of the industry. So we added ‘History’, ‘Self-improvement’ and ‘Sexuality & Relationships’ to try and give more people the opportunity to be showcased.

FT: There was talk in the advisory meetings about having specific categories for demographics like women’s podcasters. Why did you veer away from that in the end?

ET: We didn’t want to dilute it, but also by having a category just for women, it could be construed that women are not quite good enough to be in the other categories, therefore they need their own special one. The same with people of colour or different gender identity. If you are a really passionate sports podcaster, then you should win the sports category.

EM: We went back and forth on it a lot and I think we wanted to categorise them based on their own merit. I’m sure that if we come back for a second year, then we would look at that again to say, well, what did we have with the diversity? Did we have a good selection of female fronted podcasts, male fronted podcasts? [editors note: Em clarified via email they would check coverage in terms of inclusive categories for all gender identities, sexualities, ethnicities]

FT: And on the back of that – and I know you’ve addressed this before – why are there separate awards for Indie Pods? Is it because they aren’t good enough to win other awards?

ET: We absolutely don’t think that they’re not good enough. It is recognising the grassroots talent and bringing it up and getting it the recognition it deserves, which isn’t always easy up against people that have got years of media training and a big production team behind them, and all that kind of thing.

FT: You’ve already mentioned a couple of things that you might re-look at for next year, but is there anything you have learned through the process?

ET: One thing I definitely wouldn’t do next year is change venues two months before, and I wouldn’t have it on a Monday, especially not the Monday after my best Friend’s wedding…

EM: We’ve always said that we would have a debrief once everything’s passed. I think for next year it would be nice to let people know a bit earlier. I feel like if you are an indie podcaster, the money side is quite important, how much something costs is quite important. And I think if you’re given a bit more time. And maybe ramp up the excitement a little bit more. Now that we’ve had this year, people will know who we are. Hopefully.

ET: I’d change a few things about the judging process, but it’s the first year of doing something and you never quite know whether it’s going to take off or not. I think also for next year we would have a section on the website of what the judges will be looking for, to try and help people work out what they should be putting in and keep the entries concise for the judges as well.

FT: That’s good to hear. I think that is a very opaque process from the podcaster side.

ET: And learning how to write in an awards entry is quite a skill in itself. It’s probably slightly less so for this one because it’s more about what the podcast itself sounds like, but there are certain skills to writing that bit of wording to try and stand out from the crowd.

FT: And do you have any particular hopes for next year in terms of what you would like to see for either the podcasts that are applying or for the actual event that you would really like?

ET: Ask me again tomorrow!

EM: I feel like when it’s the first event, there will have been some podcasters out there who are a little bit apprehensive and thought, “yeah, we don’t know if we want to do it. We don’t know what it’s going to be like”. Hopefully next year they’ll look at the people who did win and go, “that’s what I want for my podcast next year”. And maybe that will equal more people entering, more diverse people entering.

ET: [Some big production houses] got in touch with me asking when we open for entries next year. I had to point out to them that they didn’t quite fit the criteria…

FT: Is there anything you want to add that we didn’t cover?

ET: I’ve launched a lot of events, but they’ve always had brand backing before. It is so hard to go from a standing start to get 300 entries. I was hoping for a hundred!

An insight to the 2023 judging criteria:

These are the five criteria that judges were asked to think about for each entry (this may change for 2024):

1. How does it serve the community it’s aimed at?

Think about the podcast’s audience, does the content hit the mark?

2. How is it different?

What does it do differently from other podcasts in the genre – does it stand out somehow?

3. Is it well researched?

Do the hosts know what they’re talking about? Have they read around their topic? If the show is an interview based one, do they understand their guest?

4. Listener Figures

What are the listener figures like? This isn’t to single out/penalise those with fewer downloads. It’s to help you think about whether some pods need more of a helping hand than others. And if the podcaster has provided info about how they’ve increased listeners or anything that makes them stand out, this is where you score them for that.

5. Does it leave you wanting more?

Having listened to the excerpts, do they leave you wanting more? Do you want to spend more time with the hosts? Does it entertain you even if it’s not a topic you’d normally choose to engage with?

Find out more about the Independent Podcast Awards and this year’s winners, head to their website.

Don’t forget to check out our article on 6 ways to make your audio event relevant and representative to help champion an industry you’d like to see.

What does the Edison Top 25 podcast data tell us?

Back in May at The Podcast Show 2023 in London, the U.S. company Edison Research announced that they would be surveying UK podcast audiences for the first time to find the most popular podcasts in the UK. Now, the ‘first comprehensive UK Top 25 Podcasts chart’ has been released – and it’s got the UK podcast industry talking.

Why the Edison Report is different

Many podcast producers and industry professionals are excited about this new report because it is providing very different data on what the ‘most popular podcasts’ are. Whilst we can go to charts from apps like Apple Podcasts and Spotify, these are limited to download data, and can miss many listener types – such as those that use smaller podcast apps, people who listen together (e.g. a car journey) and people streaming directly from a podcast’s website.

Instead, Edison is asking listeners directly, which (in theory) means they can get data that crosses all platforms, networks and listening habits. They have been releasing podcast data like this for the U.S. since 2019, and many see this as the UK industry starting to catch up with the more established U.S. market.

The Edison Top 25 list

1. The Joe Rogan Experience 2. The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett 3. Off Menu with Ed Gamble and James Acaster 4. Sh**ged Married Annoyed 5. That Peter Crouch Podcast 6. The Rest Is Politics 7. No Such Thing As A Fish 8. Newscast 9. The Therapy Crouch 10. The Daily 11. The Rest is History 12. The News Agents 13. The Infinite Monkey Cage 14. Happy Place 15. Parenting Hell 16. NewlyWeds 17. Saving Grace 18. Desert Island Discs 19. You’re Dead to Me 20. Stuff You Should Know 21. Money Box 22. The Fellas 23. Uncanny 24. Kermode & Mayo’s Take 25. Impaulsive with Logan Paul

What do the Edison UK Podcast Metrics tell us about popular podcasts?

1. UK listeners prefer UK shows

In great news for the UK podcasting industry, we can confirm that UK listeners do want to listen to UK shows! Only four shows from the U.S. Edison Podcast Metrics list were on the UK list. This is a great reason to keep making podcasts in our book.

2. YouTube and video isn’t essential

If nothing else, this is a big moral boost for podcasters who prefer audio, and shows us the video isn’t essential to be a popular podcast. The emphasis on video podcasting has been increasing in recent years, and particularly as YouTube turns its attention to podcasting. But of the top 25 most popular podcasts in the UK, only eight are fully available on YouTube according to this article by Adam Bowie.

3. The Top 25 podcasts lean white, straight, and male

The hosts of the podcasts in the list are majority white, straight and male. This is the general list for everyone surveyed, and Edison has weighted the results to represent YouGov data (so this list shouldn’t hold a bias in those surveyed). However, it would be interesting to see how the list would differ if it were split by demographics (Edison charges to look into that data).

We did hear in a Podnews interview with Melissa Kiesche, Senior Vice President at Edison Research, that if you consider only women, the Top 5 podcast list would look like this:

  1. Diary of a CEO
  2. Sh**ged, Married, Annoyed
  3. Off Menu
  4. Newlyweds
  5. Happy Place
4. It’s not all about interviews

The interview is without a doubt the most prolific podcast format, and the top two shows are interviews. However, it’s great to see there is a range of other formats in the list. Round-table style shows – like That Peter Crouch Podcast and The Infinite Monkey Cage – featured heavily, perhaps because these shows have more chances for listeners to connect with guests or multiple hosts. The BBC’s Uncanny was the only investigative podcast, and surprisingly there were no true-crime shows in the UK list (there were four in the U.S. top 25).

5. The BBC produced the largest number of popular podcasts

With six shows, the BBC has produced the largest number of the Top 25. But this may be a matter of having the most to offer in general – the BBC Sounds app currently has more than 600 shows in their podcast section, which are a mix of podcast-first content and podcast versions of radio shows. In comparison, Goalhanger Podcasts (the second most popular producer in the list) only has eight shows – three of which weren’t published at the time the survey was conducted.

Whilst the BBC has the most shows placing in the top 25, none of those made it into the top five. It goes to show that having one really good idea for a show and focusing on it can take a show really far.

6. The most popular shows are a mix of classic and new shows

It can sometimes be disheartening to see the same long-running shows feature in top charts over and over again. Being well-established with a big back-catalogue can certainly boost download numbers, but there were newer shows in this list. The Rest Is Politics is only 18 months old and The Therapy Crouch is less than a year old. Podcasting is clearly not an oversaturated market, and listeners are enjoying new shows.

7. Popular podcasts aren’t necessarily award-winning podcasts

We’re in the middle of the UK podcast awards season at the moment, with the British Podcast Awards last month, The International Women’s Podcast Awards and the new Independent Podcast Awards this month, and the Audio Production Awards rounding it off in November. But it is interesting to note that from the Top 25 list, The News Agents is the only show (so far) that has featured in any of these shortlists. And Redhanded, which has won Listener’s Choice at The British Podcast Awards three times, isn’t in the Top 25.

We wrote an article last month about whether it is worth you entering awards, and this is another point to consider.

Gaps in the reporting

This survey method can reach a more comprehensive cross-section of podcast listeners than download data, but as pointed out in this article by Matt Deegan “the main challenge is the sample size. Can you reach enough people to provide a comprehensive overview?”

Edison spoke to 2,273 weekly podcast listeners ages 15 and up, and as mentioned the data was weighted to avoid bias. But there are more than 20 million people who listen to podcasts in the UK, so this is still a tiny slice of listenership.

The amount of podcasts available for listeners to pick from is another factor that makes data collection difficult – with more than 3 million shows, it would be very easy for each of the 2,273 people to have middle-range or niche listens amongst their queue that get discounted. This means that the top of the list is likely to be fairly accurate, but the further down the list we get, the more skewed the data is likely to be. This is possibly why we only have the Top 25 UK podcasts, whereas the U.S. data (which has a bigger sample size of 5,352) goes into the Top 50 shows.

What next?

If podcast producers are looking to make the most popular shows, this list provides a useful starting point for what appeals to listeners. We can now prove that it’s not always the biggest production companies or the most established shows that are successful.

Melissa Kiesche, Senior Vice President at Edison Research, said “We’re planning to bring out the ranker regularly, with the goal of giving podcasts even more popularity.” We’ll be keeping an eye to see if there are changes to the list in the future – and if awards season does appear to affect it in any way.

Autumnal Listens for Every Mood

The seasons have well and truly turned and October has finally decided that it is an Autumn month. We reckon that most people fall into one of two categories at this time of the year – you’re either seeking comfort or you’re seeking scares. We’ve got podcast recommendations for both camps in this article. So whether you’re in the mood for something spooky or something cosy, it’s the perfect season to add these shows to your queue.

Podcasts to make you feel comfortable

As The Season Turns

Hosted by nature writer Lia Leendertz (author of The Almanac: A Seasonal Guide) As The Season Turns is an audio almanac to keep you connected to the seasons in Britain and Ireland. Lia guides listeners through natural cycles like the time of sunrise, the moon phases, and what’s growing in the garden. We also get a ‘found sound of the month’ recorded in a natural setting to help us slow down. Listen to the episodes as they are released on the first of every month so that you can note nature as it happens – listen here.

Closet Confessions

As you’re pulling your jumpers out of the back of the closet, perhaps it’s a good time to join Candice Brathwaite and Coco Sarel in theirs. This is barely a year old, but it’s firmly established itself as a cult podcast through the focus on sisterhood and community. The hosts start by sharing their personal ‘closet confessions’ before commenting on a pop culture moment and inviting listener contributions. Whilst both hosts brought their own loyal followings from other work, they are reaching a wider audience with their honesty and a friendship we can hear grow before us – listen here.

Weirdos Book Club

If you’re heading towards hibernation and ready to cuddle up with a book, this new show from comedians and authors Sara Pascoe and Cariad Lloyd could be your companion. Their Weirdos Book Club is especially welcoming for the ‘lonely outsiders’ among us, and features references ranging between Wallace and Gromit and Carl Jung. They have a list of upcoming books if you want to read along – but you could listen to the episodes cold if you want to pretend you did finish it – listen here.

Cuddle Club

If you’re looking for a big hug in podcast form, you can’t get more on the nose than Cuddle Club. Started during COVID lockdowns, when cuddles were but a distant dream, Lou Sanders (Taskmaster) asks her famous guests slightly touchy questions – such as ‘which kid did your parents prefer?’. There’s also interesting little set segments such as guessing what item Lou is ‘touching’ as she describes the shape and feel of it to her guests – listen here.

Sticky Bun Boys

Autumn is of course Bake Off season, and if you’re a fan of the British TV staple, this will be the perfect side dish. Previous contestants David Atherton and Michael Chakraverty analyse each episode and give listeners behind-the-scenes tidbits. This is not necessarily family listening though – as the title suggests, they do it all with a large helping of innuendo, as well as some conversations about dating, queer culture and more. The listeners’ contribution section is always a highlight, as the pair share their opinions on ‘the soggy bottoms of the world’ i.e. listener’s pet peeves – listen here.

Podcasts to scare you

Mockery Manor

Mockery Manor is a fiction podcast that falls between funny and freaky. It’s 1989, and somewhere in deepest darkest England, teenagers JJ and Bette are just trying to half-arse their summer job at Mockery Manor theme park. But people keep disappearing, and it seems like it’s up to the pair of teenagers to catch a killer. Now into its third season, make sure you start at the beginning to get to know the characters and avoid any spoilers – listen here.


A spooky podcast about folklore from across the pond, this is focused on stories from Latinx and Hispanic cultures. Sometimes there is a discussion with friends, but it’s the solo deep dives from host Ayden Castellanos where listeners can learn about such creatures as the jungle-spirit Alux, and El Cadejo, the hellhound. The stories are often new to me, and all the more spooky for the mystery. But the storytelling doesn’t gloss over the wider cultural context. For his work of preserving cultural stories, Ayden was also recently recognised with an award supported by Wondery – listen here.

Hidden Djinn

You may not have seen them. You may not even be aware of them. But it doesn’t matter, because the djinn are all around us. Djinn lore spans continents, cultures and centuries, but is most prevalent today in Islamic lore. The Hidden Djinn is a mix of mythology and journalism to bring these stories to a wider audience. This short-series was created by Rabia Chaudry – an attorney and the person who first brought Adnan’s story to the Serial creators – so you know you’re in good hands as you listen – listen here.

Honey and the Hex

Join the coven and dive into the origins, traditions and intersections of folklore in the modern world. Honey and the Hex comes from a sibling duo, Tansie and Tatum, who identify as modern witches. They explore well-known stories and traditions through personal anecdotes, and with a progressive approach that includes feminist, queer and disabled perspectives. After more than a year on hiatus, the show returned this month with a Friday 13th special (and some new artwork!) – listen here.

One podcast that can do both


This podcast appeared to be everywhere when it first came out (including a live show at the Sheffield DocFest, the first time a podcast was at the film festival). If you somehow managed to avoid it, I envy you, because now is the perfect season to listen. Presenter India Rakusen explores the concept of the witch, from the historical witch trials to the pop-culture of witches and witchcraft. There is a focus on feminism and the real-life consequences of superstition in history and modern day. This is a powerful listen – whether you believe in magic or not – listen here.

6 ways to make your audio event relevant and representative

On 29th September 2023, the Equality In Audio Pact made small but important changes to the  wording of Pledge Four, which relates to audio industry events. Following on from this change in wording, we’ve been reflecting on ways the industry, and individuals within it, can turn this new wording into action.

So we’d like to share our ideas for 6 actions to help make future audio industry events as relevant and representative as possible.

As event organisers

1. Use the 2021 census statistics as a starting point…

In the UK, we currently have almost the best statistics we could ask for regarding the make-up of towns and cities in England and Wales. The census, which is carried out every 10 years, was conducted less than two years ago, and it shows the changing demographics of the country. Event organisers can take this as a starting point for curating a representative line-up.

2. … but rebalance historic exclusion

It’s true that the diversity of our country isn’t yet reflected in all levels of the audio industry, and this has historically led to panels and events of mono-demographics. It is in response to this that targeted events have developed. For example, our International Women’s Podcast Festival proudly curated panels and talks that exclusively featured women – which isn’t representative of the census. But whilst this may be perceived as excluding male speakers, it serves to rebalance historic gender bias. This idea is worth remembering when curating panels and stages within larger events, to ensure all experiences are given space.

3. Consider different cities

The audio industry, and events around it, are often very London-centric. And whilst London is one of the most diverse areas in the country, representation would mean something different in different cities. In fact, this is something that the new Birmingham Podcast Festival used as a foundation for their event – as the first official ‘minority majority’ city in the UK, the line-up reflected the 2021 census data.

As individuals

1. Follow the pledge!

Refusing to lend your voice can be as powerful as speaking up. If you are asked to speak at an event that doesn’t seem to be taking actions on equality, politely decline – and explain why. Some EAP signees have withdrawn from events in the past that didn’t appear to uphold the pledge. This might sometimes mean losing out on paid work, but individuals have the ability to make a difference, even through small actions.

2. Suggest someone else in your place

When you tell an event why you don’t feel comfortable speaking, you could open the conversation about other speakers that would be a better fit. It is worth noting here that you should ask the person you recommend whether they want to talk at the event. If the event is showing absolutely no interest in diversity and equality, that might be a very uncomfortable environment to send someone into.

3. Think about which events you attend

You might not be a speaker, but the audience for events are very powerful. Check the line-up of events before you go, and decide if it’s representative of the industry you’d like to see. If not, don’t go! Likewise, make sure you do attend events that are working hard to change the make-up of the industry. Your presence is the biggest endorsement an event can get, and this trickles up to the types of events that we see. This is especially true of in-person events where the organisers can see the audience.

These suggested changes will naturally lead towards more representative events. We also believe they also represent a more interesting approach to curation, with new ideas that will remain relevant as the industry evolves. As the new co-stewards of Phase Two of the Equality in Audio Pact, alongside UKAN, we’re keen to encourage these types of positive actions towards change.

Read the full statement from the EAP on the changes of wording here.