The intimate nature of podcasting means most listening is done solo. That means unlike a hot television show, there’s not much watercooler conversation about podcasts. But that doesn’t mean people aren’t talking about their favorite shows. They’re just doing it differently.
Many podcast listeners are turning to online chat rooms – most typically Facebook groups – dedicated to specific shows. The discussion group for the podcast Crime Junkie has more than 107,000 members. And while it may have more than most, as the New York Times reports, it’s not uncommon for podcast Facebook groups to have tens of thousands of followers. And that’s in addition to the unofficial blogs, message boards and chatrooms that have sprouted up in recent years. The Times notes the conversation isn’t always about the podcasts themselves either, with discussion going off on tangents as listeners with common taste in audio content find plenty to talk about. And sometimes they also find love. Two members from the Lady Gang podcast Facebook group reportedly married last summer.
Danielle Desir, the founder of the group Women of Color Podcasters, told the Times she sees lots of benefit to such groups. “Podcasts are really one-directional, so a lot of listeners are looking to continue the conversation and interject with their thoughts,” she said. Desir also sees an opportunity for producers to use the discussion boards as a way to bounce ideas off of a podcast’s core group of listeners.
Podcast message boards also come with a set of etiquette rules that may not be needed in other groups. The Crime Junkies group for instance asks its users to only talk about the podcast’s main subject matter: crime. “Anything the moderators determine to be divisive, including politics, will not be approved,” it warns. The rules also include a dictate that conversations shouldn’t include any spoilers to a Crime Junkies episode.