When Roger Anderson first discovered podcasts, he wasn’t pulled in just by convenience or gripping narratives.
Being able to listen to episodes on-demand was certainly a perk, and there were plenty of great storytellers, like Hardcore History’s Dan Carlin. But what struck him most was the passion of the people speaking to him through his headphones.
“I thought, ‘Wow, here’s this guy just talking about history, and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard,’” Roger says. “I found other podcasts and thought this is such a neat space. It’s not corporate networks putting out content. It’s average people doing things they love and sharing it. I would love to do that.”
At their heart, podcasts are audio recordings focused on specific topics—not unlike a pre-recorded radio show. But because they can be downloaded to a phone or computer to be played at any time, they allow listeners to go as deep or as light as they want on a certain topic.
In 2014, Roger launched his own podcast: The Kitchen Counter.
He isn’t a professional chef, but Roger did grow up surrounded by food. Whether it was working at his family’s hometown diner, Muggsy’s, in Toledo, Oregon, or watching his mom make time at the end of a busy day to cook fresh meals for her family, food was always a connective thread for him and his five siblings.
Home cooking was a natural fit.
Posting new episodes a few times each month, the podcast started as a platform for Roger to introduce his audience to cooking basics, banish myths about the kitchen and share advice for preparing some of his favorite meals.
During the last seven years, it has also become a place for conversations with chefs from across the country.
“Early on I was actually kind of terrified to talk to other people,” Roger says. “What do I have to contribute that someone who’s written a cookbook couldn’t? What could I add to the conversation? But you just have to understand that wherever you’re at in your journey of knowledge and understanding, there are people above and below you. There’s always someone you can help.”
Sounds Like Magic
When Roger launched The Kitchen Counter, podcasts were just beginning to gain mainstream popularity.
He could have chosen any format to share his knowledge about cooking—social media, a blog or a YouTube channel—but he already felt podcasts had a special appeal for the audience. For one, they are available completely on-demand.
“You can listen to it when you want, where you want,” he says. “You can listen to 50 episodes in one weekend if you feel like it. It really puts people in control of their consumption.”
The audio format also gives people the freedom to do other things, like drive to work or cook dinner, while continuing to enjoy their favorite podcast.
“As a listener, I find it much more appealing than, say, YouTube videos, because it’s something I can follow along with without having to focus all of your attention on it,” Roger says. “I know I can’t write emails and watch a YouTube video at the same time. But I can certainly listen to a podcast.”
He also finds listening to be a much more personal way to engage with his favorite subjects or to learn about something new.
“I don’t know what it is but there really is something deeply connective and personal about it,” Roger says. “If you have headphones on it’s like hearing someone’s voice in your head, in a good way. You can’t get that on YouTube or in written mediums. There’s something about it that’s kind of magical.”
Find Your Passion
In the seven years since he started podcasting, Roger has seen an industry transformation.
An influx of advertising money has turned what used to be a space made up entirely of scrappy creatives into a money-making industry. But he says that isn’t all bad.
“There’s the joke that everybody has a podcast—and to some degree, compared to other mediums, it can feel that way,” Roger says. “But that’s kind of cool in my opinion because it means there’s a podcast for everybody.”
Even with a growing number of major companies getting into the game and famous voices hosting podcasts on the side, Roger doesn’t believe it is hard to find the independent streak that drew him to the format years ago.
“There are a lot of big, huge network podcasts or celebrity podcasts, and those are all good,” he says. “But for every one of those there are probably five or six or 10 independent podcasts with people who are approachable and have a passion they want to talk about. I think that’s a great benefit to the podcasting world.”
For Roger, that scale and variety is ultimately podcasting’s greatest strength.
No matter what your interests, somewhere out there is an audience that is just as eager to hear more about them as you—and a voice or 10 eager to lead the conversation.
“I think the appeal is that whatever someone is passionate about or interested in, I can guarantee them there’s at least one if not many, many podcasts about it,” Roger says. “It gives them an opportunity to find their people and hear things that they’ll never hear on TV or the radio.”
In the early days of podcasting, following your favorite show required navigating a technological obstacle course of downloads and synced devices.
Today, the process is as easy as downloading an app.
Apps such as Apple Podcasts and Stitcher make it easy to search thousands of the latest podcasts and subscribe to your favorites for free.
If you have a Spotify app, you already are set. Just go to the search tab and choose “Podcasts & Shows” to start adding new discoveries to your list.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few to get you going:
Hardcore History. Host Dan Carlin goes deep on his favorite historical topics from the Mongols to the Eastern Front of World War II.
Sound Opinions. Chicago music critics Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot discuss music’s greats, talk shop with artists and share their opinions on the latest releases.
Radiolab. An audio storyteller explores amazing tales of science, history, culture and more from across the globe with music and sound that will suck you in.
My Favorite Murder. Lifelong true crime fans Karen Kilgriff and Georgia Hardstark share tales of crime, murder and a few laughs along the way.
The Watch. Longtime friends Chris Ryan and Andy Greenwald break down the latest in TV, movies and music that deserves your attention.
The Money Pit. When it comes to home improvement projects, your home doesn’t have to be one, thanks to the unbiased expertise of Tom Kraeutler and Leslie Segrete.
A Way to Garden. World-renowned gardening expert Margaret Roach digs in to garden design, upkeep, trees, veggies and even recipes for what you grow.
Switched On. Hosts Mark Taylor and Dana Perkins sit down with Bloomberg analysts to uncover the future of energy, transportation and sustainability.
The Broadband Bunch. Hear from industry leaders, pioneers and policymakers about the state of the industry, the latest trends and how broadband impacts all of us.
Ruralite: The Podcast. Listen in on the go or around the house to put a voice to some of your favorite Ruralite stories.