Ben Scofield

Ben Scofield

… rarely updated

30 Dec 2017

My 2017 in podcasts

I had a lot of fun doing my post about my reading for the past year , so I figured I’d take a shot at doing something similar for my podcast listening. The data’s a little bit trickier to figure out for podcast hosts than it is for authors, but here’s a shot at it.

The numbers

I listened to around 1680 hours of content in 2017, spread across 1890 episodes of 107 distinct shows. I listen to most shows at 1.5x to 1.7x speed, so my actual time spent listening was closer to 1,050 hours — that’s still more than a month of solid listening, though, of which the vast majority was done while I was driving, walking the dog, jogging, rowing, cleaning, or otherwise doing something that left my ears free.


For podcast demographics, I’m looking at regular hosts — not guests or fill-in hosts. I’m reasonably sure of my categorization for most of the podcasts I listened to regularly. I’m also going to give the breakdown as a percentage of shows AND as a percentage of content I heard.

About 15% of the shows I listened to (making up 14.3% of the content I heard) were hosted by people of color. A full third of the shows (but only 11% of the content) were hosted by people identifying as female or non-binary. 15% of the shows (23% of the content) had LGBT+ hosts. In total, 45% of the shows I listened to, and 52% of the content (870+ hours) had hosts from underrepresented groups. I’d like to do a bit better on all of these metrics — especially that % of time spent listening to non-male voices — in 2018.


The podcasts I listened to ranged over a wide set of genres, but there were some clear trends. More than 14% of the shows I listened to were related to role-playing games (actual plays, reviews, etc.). Politics shows made up another 9.5%, followed by technology / startup stuff at 8.6%. Shows about psychology were 7.6% of my subscription list, and philosophy came in at 5.7%. After that, shows about art, economics, law, television, humor, and more all came in under 5% each.


I loved … too many shows this past year (see that top line listened number for proof). I’m going to limit this list to just a few, though.

  • The Campaign podcast is now and will forever hold the top spot on my list of favorite podcasts. It’s an actual play RPG set in the Star Wars universe (prior to A New Hope), following a crew of lovable, often-incompetent, and deeply realized misfits who are raising a Force-sensitive child while trying to get top-secret plans for something they call the Murderball to the nascent Rebellion.
  • Pod Save America is my go-to when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the state of the country. It’s got the absolute best ad reads, along with great interviews and insights from a group of former Obama staffers.
  • I ran across Buffy the Vampire Slayer when I was in college, and I watched it loyally for years to follow. I don’t know if I got as much enjoyment out of it then as I do now when listening to Buffering the Vampire Slayer, though, which gives me a whole new perspective on a show that I’m really attached to.
  • Very Bad Wizards is a collaboration between a philosopher and a psychologist; they talk about everything from moral philosophy, to the current state of research on general intelligence in psychology, to the rationality of using a Star Trek-style transporter, and I love it.
  • I used to do CrossFit, and while there’s a lot of faddishness in the community, there are also some really smart people thinking about ways to get better at a wide variety of skills. The conversations with Ben Bergeron on the Chasing Excellence podcast are applicable far beyond the gym, and it jumps to the top of my podcast app when a new episode shows up.

Looking forward

I think I listened to too much content in 2017, so I’m going to try to be a bit more selective next year. At the same time, I’d like to broaden the range of voices I hear, as I mentioned up in the demographics section. Podcast discovery is a trash fire, though, so I’d more than welcome any recommendations people might have!