Industry Trends

Podcasting in the Pandemic

Denali Sagner
November 11, 2020
3 minutes


Key Takeaways

  1. Listening to podcasts has become an important way for Americans to get information about the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Since lockdown measures began in March, there has been an increase in podcast listening as Americans have more time on their hands.
  3. Podcasts about the coronavirus and the economy have helped answer important questions in these uncertain times.
  4. Picking up a new podcast may help you address questions and concerns as the pandemic continues.

On March 12, 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat down to deliver his first Fireside Chat. The country was spiraling into economic depression and millions of Americans were unemployed. The nation sat, gripped by anxiety, awaiting an update from their Commander in Chief. From the Oval Office, the President would go on to deliver 30 radio addresses to Americans about the Great Depression and the beginnings of World War II.

It’s been nearly 100 years since FDR’s first Fireside Chat and we rarely gather around the radio to get our news anymore. The idea of rallying together to listen to important updates on a national crisis seemed, until recently, like something of the past. However, March of 2020 brought FDR’s Fireside Chats back into the American consciousness. 

“The idea of rallying together to listen to important updates on a national crisis seemed, until recently, like something of the past.”


The COVID-19 Pandemic is a crisis of unprecedented scale. Earlier this year, businesses shut down, schools and offices closed, and Americans everywhere found themselves in quarantine. Amidst all of the chaos and uncertainty, one important medium helped the country get by: podcasting.

Stuck at home in the early spring months, Americans needed to find new pastimes. The old rituals of parties with friends, commutes to the office, and dinners at restaurants were on pause for the indefinite future. In addition to having new free time, Americans were riddled with questions:

What is the coronavirus? How can I protect myself and my family? Will my small business survive the lockdown? What is the government doing for me right now?

With questions in mind and time on their hands, podcasts became a critical way for Americans to keep themselves updated on the changing dynamics of the pandemic. At the end of March, iHeartRadio saw an increase in podcast listening, especially in areas with lockdown restrictions. As opposed to television and movies, which require large casts and production budgets, podcasts can be made by anyone, from anywhere. In a locked-down world, this ease allowed the podcasting industry to explode.

“With questions in mind and time on their hands, podcasts became a critical way for Americans to keep themselves updated on the changing dynamics of the pandemic.”


Suddenly, podcasts became a major avenue for people to quell pandemic-related fears. The number of podcasts dedicated to covering the virus grew quickly. Shows like CNN’s “Coronavirus: Fact vs Fiction,” BBC’s “Coronavirus Global Update,” and Crooked Media’s “America Dissected: Coronavirus” became fan favorites. As scientists and politicians learned more about COVID-19, so did the American people as they took walks around their neighborhood and spent quiet nights at home.

Downloads and streams for podcasts about business and finance through iHeartRadio were also up 78 percent by the end of March, as compared to before the pandemic. Today, thousands of businesses have closed and millions of people are unemployed. Congress continues to negotiate stimulus checks and unemployment measures. In the midst of this economic spiral, informative podcasts have given Americans the opportunity to take finances into their own hands. Shows like the “Weekly Economics Podcast” from the Economics Foundation and “Planet Money” from NPR help everyday people navigate the complicated economic landscape they are facing.

"In the midst of this economic spiral, informative podcasts gave Americans the opportunity to take finances into their own hands.”


As we enter into the fall and the coronavirus pandemic continues, there will certainly be more questions before there are answers. However, Americans may have just found their modern-day Fireside Chat in the world of podcasting. There’s no time like the present to stay updated and informed. Find your podcast and settle in, and you might just learn something important about the world around you.


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