February 25, 2019

Tech Rap: Our Most Popular Podcasts

Last month I wrote about our most popular Internet stations. I’ve made a lot over our models’ ability to deliver tens of thousands of free Internet stations, and rightfully so. Afterall, it’s the number one feature used by our customers. But there’s another source accessed from our same exact data base that doesn’t get much hype…podcasts. What’s a podcast? It’s a pre-recorded radio program you can access on demand. Podcasts are not a new thing. They’ve been around for 15 years, give or take. Podcasts cover just about every topic imaginable and they’re free (though some contain adverts). Some podcasts are hosted by professional broadcasters in a studio using professional equipment; others are recorded by amateurs from their home using a basic microphone or even using their mobile phone. Episodes can span anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

What’s the Over/Under?

Edison Research, based in Somerville, NJ, conducted a USA poll a year ago this month that generated some fascinating data. Forty four percent of the US population (124 million people) have listened to a podcast. Almost half of all podcast listeners listen from home. Fifty six percent of all podcast listeners are male. Eighty four percent of podcast listeners are under the age of 55. And podcast listeners are active on social media. For example, 41% of podcast listeners use Twitter. What country claims the largest percentage of podcast listeners? Korea…58% of South Korean’s had listened to a podcast in the last month.

The Top 30

As I did in my Most Popular Stations blog article, I queried our aggregator regarding the Top 30 most popular podcasts amongst all Como Audio listeners worldwide. Here are the results:

  1. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!  (NPR, Gameshow; 128kbps/MP3)
  2. NPR: Fresh Air (WHYY; NPR, Interviews; 128kbps/MP3)
  3. Wissen (SWR2; German, Science; 128kbps/MP3)
  4. In Our Time (BBC Radio 4; Science; 128kbps/MP3)
  5. Lore (History; 256kbps/MP3)
  6. La Rosa de los Vientos (Spanish, Arts/Culture; 128kbps/MP3)
  7. Echo de Zeit (SRF1, German, News; 64kbps/MP3)
  8. In Our Time Archive Philosophy (BBC Radio 4, History; 128kbps/MP3)
  9. The Cycling Podcast (128kbps/MP3)
  10. ARD Radio Tatort (German, Radio drama; 128kbps/MP3)
  11. Science Friday (WNYC, NPR; 128kbps/MP3)
  12. Background Briefing with Ian Masters (Interviews on current affairs; 64kbps/MP3)
  13. Hintergrund – Deutschlandfunk (Dradio, German, News; 128kbps/MP3)
  14. LA BANDE ORIGINALE (French, Music; 128kbps/MP3)
  15. Andermans Veren (AVRO, Netherlands, Cabaret; 256kbps/MP3)
  16. The Guardian Science Weekly (Science; 128kbps/MP3)
  17. The Guardian Football Weekly (Soccer; 128kbps/MP3)
  18. Radiolab from WNYC (NPR, Science; 128kbps/MP3)
  19. The History of English Podcast (History; 128kbps/MP3)
  20. Perry Mason (Radio drama; 32kbps/MP3)
  21. Big Picture Science (128kbps/MP3)
  22. NRK Utakt (Norwegian, Comedy; 128kbps/MP3)
  23. radioSpitzen (Bayern 2, German, Comedy; 128kbps/MP3)
  24. How Stuff Works Stuff You Missed in History Class (History; 128kbps/MP3)
  25. Toma Uno (RNE Radio 3, Spanish; 256kbps/MP3)
  26. Julia en la onda (Onda Cero Internacional, Spanish, Current affairs; 128kbps/MP3)
  27. Bedside Rounds (Health; 128kbps/MP3)
  28. Comedy of the Week Podcast (BBC 4 Radio; 128kbps/MP3)
  29. Aus Wissenschaft und Technik (B5 aktuell, German, Technology; 128kbps/MP3)
  30. Hidden Brain (Science; 128kbps/MP3)

I was very surprised to see so many NPR and science-related podcasts considering the Edison Research Poll I referenced earlier found Comedy to be the #1 podcast genre, followed by Education and News. I sampled all of the podcasts in the list and especially enjoyed In Our Time charting at #4 and #8 respectively on the list, Science Friday (#11), and Background Briefing with Ian Masters (#12). Have a bottle of water ready for the latter because the episodes are dry as hell, but the discussion is stimulating. Hidden Brain (#30) is a funny name but the subject matter is seriously interesting. I also liked Perry Mason (#22). I habitually watch the black and white TV show on feTV, but these radio episodes are different. I discovered several other old time radio show podcasts such as Fibber McGee and Molly and Boston Blackie. When television came on the scene, some popular old time radio shows were made into TV shows. The same thing is happening to podcasts…they’ve become so popular, some of them are actually being transformed into TV shows.

BBC Radio 4 Comedy of the Week: Comedy is the #1 podcast genre in the USA. Photo by Peter Skiera.

I also enjoy The Baby Boomer Radio, TV, Movies, Magazines, Music, Comics, Fads, Toys, Fun and More Show! with podcasts about the Lawrence Welk Show, The Twilight Zone, TV Moms, Drive-Ins, Dime store memories, Mr. Rogers, etc. True Crime podcasts have also become extremely popular. If you’re a Forensic Files fanatic like me, check out the Forensic Files podcasts which are recordings of the original TV series, including Peter Thomas’ classic narration.

We reached out to our customers through social media to get their suggestions. One customer from Italy recommended a technology podcast called 2024 from Radio 24 (it’s all in Italian). Another customer suggested Michael Shelley Show MFMU, a laid-back talk/interview show about bands, music, books, and the like.

Think about whatever you’re interested in and there’s probably a podcast about it. Do you like knitting? Check out the Yarniacs. Into fly fishing? Try The Orvis Fly Fishing Guide. Do you enjoy a good beer now and then? The Beer Report just might be for you. You get the idea. There are more than 100 categories and sub-categories listed in our Podcast Genre menu. In quickly scanning the options, some of the genres that jumped out at me include Cookery, Documentary, Hobbies, Investigative journalism, News, Science, and Travel, but there are many more.

“Forty four percent of the US population (124 million people) have listened to a podcast.”

Seek And You Shall Find

Searching for podcasts is performed the same way you search for Internet stations: In Internet radio mode, press and hold the round Play/Pause key on the remote control > Station list > Podcasts > select your search method.

Access Podcasts in Internet radio mode via Station list > Podcasts. Photo by Peter Skiera.

As with Internet stations, you can search by Country, by Genre, or by inputting the name of a specific Podcast.

Search options for Podcasts. Photo by Peter Skiera.

Like requesting to add an Internet station to the data base, you can request to add a podcast by opening a ticket. Note any podcast with explicit content will not be added. Also note, if a podcast is only exclusively available from a proprietary source like iHeart Radio (such as Ron Burgundy’s (Will Ferrell) new podcasts), then those podcasts cannot be added to the data base per iHeart. In such a case you would stream the podcast wireless from the iHeart app to your Como Audio model via Bluetooth, or through an Amazon Alexa device connected to the Auxiliary input or by Bluetooth.

You can also save a podcast to a preset just like Internet stations.

The Fine Print:

  • A podcast saved to a preset will always start from the beginning regardless of where you last left it.
  • Since our models are not computers, it isn’t possible to subscribe to a podcast, and should you save a podcast to a preset, it won’t automatically be replaced by a newer episode if/when one becomes available.
  • With some podcasts you can press and hold the remote’s right and left arrow keys to go forward or back within a playing podcast, though admittedly very Use the free Como Control app to get to a point in a podcast instantly and to pause a podcast.
  • Podcasts are recorded at different gain levels, so when you’re changing from one podcast to another, you might need to adjust the volume. And when you’re done listening to a podcast you might need to lower or raise the volume after you change to a different source such as going from a podcast to Internet radio.
  • It can take some time for a podcast to load on your Como Audio model depending on its length, audio quality level, and the capability of your Wi-Fi network, and a podcast might buffer multiple times during playback for the same reasons.
  • If a podcast won’t play and/or causes your Como Audio system to reboot, it’s usually because that podcast is using the https communication protocol instead of http. We’re investigating whether this can be improved via a future software update.
  • Podcasts that contain explicit content, use m4v/m4a audio codecs, or episodes more than 180 days old aren’t included in the podcast data base.
  • When using the direct search option, enter the complete name of the podcast for best results. Entering only one or two words or a subject may result in no podcasts found.

The free Como Control app shows the playing podcast’s logo (if available), title, and allows jumping to a particular point in time within the podcast as well as pausing playback.

I try to use these monthly blog articles to bring new, useful, or interesting information to our customers, and the pocast fits right in with those themes.

Our models provide a lot of source options, but if you’re looking to change things up a bit and be more engaged, consider the podcast.

Until next time, enjoy the music…uh, podcast.

Peter Skiera lives in southern MA, worked in radio broadcasting throughout New England, and also worked for Cambridge SoundWorks, B&W Loudspeakers, and Tivoli Audio for 15 years before joining Como Audio as V.P. of Product Development in 2016. In addition to Tech Rap, Peter also writes for his own blog, He can be reached directly at

Related articles:

Tech Rap: Our Most Popular Stations

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