Podcast Listening Behavior!

May 5, 2022

Another amazing set of comments/thoughts/insights/reflections on yesterday’s post – thank you! I am sure there will be more thoughts on that topic to come.

Screenshot showing 9 of 78. YES 78!!!! I probably listen to 20% of what gets downloaded.

Today I have a different question, brought on by a tip Kelsey gave on the most recent Edit Your Life podcast to unsubscribe from podcasts. My podcaster self was like: NOOOOOOO!

Kelsey is a podcaster too (and I think often reads here 🙂 ) and this is not a dig – I love her work! I just wanted to offer a counterpoint/alternative method which is: subscribe to more than you can listen to, but clean out your feed weekly.

Here are my reasons for using this method:

1- I might not want to listen to EVERY episode of a given podcast (though I never miss Kelsey and Erica’s, quite honestly!) but there might be a topic that catches my eye or a guest I am excited about that I want to hear.

2- I am a ‘mood listener’ and while I do have certain rituals (Up First in the shower, certain podcasts on Monday morning and Sunday runs always with No Stupid Questions), other times I appreciate a brought array of options

3- Subscribing helps support the podcasters! I’m sure Up First doesn’t care, but some of us (ahem) still have to work for each download. I kid, but it’s true — podcasters earn revenue based on ad sales that are linked to downloads (unless you listen on a streaming service like Spotify). I’m pretty sure there’s no way of knowing if you’ve listened to the track!

So, there you go! If I let my tracks accumulate it would get ridiculous but I set the app I use — Podcruncher — to keep 2 episodes max of any podcasts and I also do a big weed-out/delete weekly.

Which app do you use to listen? Do you ‘oversubscribe and delete’ like me, or are you restrained in your downloading/subscribing habits? Do you also have rituals you associate with certain podcasts? Please tell me someone sits down and plans while listening to BLP!


  • Reply Seppie May 5, 2022 at 6:42 am

    I’m more like you for sure! When my playlist gets too long I either get pickier about which episodes get added, or I delete a few from the list. I also re-order my playlist according to mood or timeliness. Right now I’ve got 57 episodes in the queue – the oldest is from April 18.

  • Reply Coree May 5, 2022 at 6:44 am

    I listen to Newscast and Ukrainecast first thing in the am or on office-days, while I’m walking into the office and while I’m getting settled for the workday, but other than that, I don’t have much of a ritual. I try not to let more than about 15 podcasts pile up in my queue and unsubscribe if I find that I’m perpetually skipping over things. If I’m WFH, I like to listen to something while I make lunch or am doing bits around the house, but I really need to figure out how to get my podcast app to play nicely with the smart speaker, because I’d like to be able to just leave my phone elsewhere.

  • Reply Gillian May 5, 2022 at 6:49 am

    I subscribe to more that I can ever listen to! For one thing not every episode of every podcast is pertinent to me. I often skip the toddler/preschooler episodes of parenting podcasts (my youngest is 6), but I love anything I can find on teens and tweens (spoiler: there’s not much). I also am a mood listener. HBR Women at Work has some great episodes but I have to be in the mood. I mostly listen on the way to work.

    • Reply Marina May 5, 2022 at 8:11 am

      I’d recommend the Ask Lisa podcast for teens/tweens if you don’t already have that one.

      • Reply Kat May 5, 2022 at 12:19 pm

        Second the Ask Lisa podcast! She is actually a family friend but more importantly she gave a lecture at my daughter’s school recently and I was blown away by her insight. She’s super honest and very helpful! I have 2 girls so I see a lot of Ask Lisa in my future.

      • Reply Gillian May 5, 2022 at 3:32 pm


  • Reply Chelsea May 5, 2022 at 7:01 am

    I do a bit of both. If I like a podcast “enough” then I’ll subscribe and just listen to the episodes that appeal to me and mark the ones I’m not interested in as played. But if I just can’t get into one despite trying a few episodes, I’ll just unsubscribe and move on. For example, the only financial podcast I’ve ever really gotten into is Afford Anything (which I highly recommend – Paula Pant is a phenomenal host) but I don’t always listen to all of her interviews. I’ve also moved on from a few podcasts that I liked – What Should I Read Next is a good example – but I just felt like I’d heard enough episodes and wasn’t getting a lot out of new ones.

  • Reply Keren May 5, 2022 at 7:40 am

    Recently I have unsubscribed from a few podcasts. I think in my case it’s not because I want to clear my feed but because I don’t want to be tempted to listen to podcasts that started to annoy me or make me feel I’m wasting my time. If I still find some interest in a podcast I will keep it in my feed and listen to seleted episodes.
    I use the Apple podcasts app and I really don’t like it especially since it’s starts playing episodes I’ve already listened to after the current episode is finished. I’ll give podcruncher a try.
    I almost always listen to BLP while making / eating Monday’s lunch,since that’s the time it comes up.
    This week I relistened to the episode with Lani while organizing my wardrobe 😊

    • Reply Keren May 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      I have to say my first impression of podcrucher is really bad ☹️,very unintuitive. It hasn’t imported all the podcasts I subscribe to and I still haven’t figured out how to listen to a single episode without subscribing.

      • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 5, 2022 at 1:20 pm

        oh no! I definitely didn’t mean to give it some kind of official endorsement. It’s just what I’ve used for years (and I do prefer it to Apple podcasts). I don’t think you can listen without subscribing!!! (For me I don’t mind but I can see how somme might!)

        • Reply Keren May 6, 2022 at 4:44 am

          That will definitely create a need to unsubscribe…. If you can’t listen to an episode for the first time without subsribing😊
          I’m still going to give it a try,because apple podcast isn’t really working for me.

          • Hilary May 6, 2022 at 4:58 pm

            Keren, I’ve been really happy with Overcast!

  • Reply Alissa May 5, 2022 at 7:56 am

    I subscribe and was a completist until I heard you talk about your method on a podcast episode and felt like I had permission to delete. I don’t do it weekly. In the mornings though I’ll see what came and will delete if it lacks appeal. And if I’m feeling behind I’ll go in and do a more strategic edit. I listen in the native podcast app.

    • Reply Keren May 7, 2022 at 7:08 am

      Thank you for the recommendation Hilary! I will give it a try.

  • Reply LN May 5, 2022 at 8:02 am

    I listen through Pocketcasts (the Apple Podcasts app just went through one too many terrible changes for me)

    I listen to a lot of shows while I’m working, so I tend to listen to news and politics in the morning, career/work life at midday, arts and entertainment in the afternoon. I save a bunch of podcasts discussing movies I know I will see and shows I’m meaning to finish, so afterwards I can listen to them later. But I subscribe to way more than I download which lets me skip episodes of things that don’t look interesting to me.

    There are also a few shows I save specifically for walks or chores, so I can be fully immersed in them. The Deep Dive and Book Riot are 2 examples of these.

    • Reply Helena Murphy May 5, 2022 at 9:27 pm

      Hi LN, which The Deep Dive do you listen to? There are many podcasts with that name!

  • Reply Marina May 5, 2022 at 8:10 am

    As a fellow upholder, it gives me some anxiety to have a bunch of unlistened to podcast eps but I think I’m somewhere in the middle – I do subscribe to more than I listen to, but most of my shows are ones that I do try to make the effort to listen to with every new episode. And on Sundays, I delete everything I didn’t get to to start the new week fresh. If you like financial based podcasts, I’d recommend Planet Money, the Indicator and HerMoney. The first two are fairly short and to the point, so easy to listen to every episode. I also tend to start my mornings with Up First!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 5, 2022 at 8:41 am

      Love planet money and the indicator! I will have to add HerMoney, i think that’s Jean Chatsky’s podcast right? We had her on BOBW!

      • Reply Marina May 5, 2022 at 8:52 am

        Yes, it is! She’s great. P.S. I still listen on the Apple Podcasts apps – I know a lot of people don’t like it, but it’s what I’m used to at this point.

  • Reply Elisabeth May 5, 2022 at 8:13 am

    Podcasts. I really do love them, but basically have stopped listening to anything regularly. Sigh.
    I just don’t have the right time these days; I’ve been walking with friends, don’t have a commute, can’t listen while I work, and haven’t been spending long chunks of time doing household work (I’ll pick away at home chores in small increments where it feels like too much hassle to put on a podcast).
    That said, when I was listening regularly, I never cleaned out my feed but I would unsubscribe from anything I wasn’t listening to regularly. I have about 5 podcasts (including BOBW of course) that I subscribe to and always prioritize when I go through a listening streak.
    I HAD been listening while running, but lately I’ve found I enjoy listening to music more (I pick a playlist with a steps-per-minute tempo I want).

  • Reply Omdg May 5, 2022 at 9:10 am

    Podcasts are kind of like Instagram for me. I never really understood the of either. Maybe I’d feel differently if I spent a lot of time in the car? Happy to not have to do that currently.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger May 5, 2022 at 10:47 am

      For me podcasts are for the car, walks/runs, and mindless chores. I do have to drive 25 each way to work 3-4 days per week.

      Thankfully I do not get “sucked in” to podcasts the way I did with Insta!!

  • Reply Lisa of Lisa's Yarns May 5, 2022 at 9:19 am

    I’m kind of like you in that I subscribe to many, but delete ones that I am not interested in. If I find that I am never drawn to listen to episodes from a podcast I’ve subscribed to, I unsubscribe. I use pocketcasts to listen to podcasts and have been really happy with it. I found the apple platform to be very glitchy! I don’t have a lot of time to listen to podcasts so am very choosey about what I listen to, but always listen to BOBW, BLP, Dr. Becky, Happier, Girl Next Door, The Mom Hour and a number of book podcasts that I subscribe to, although it may take me a month to get around to listening to them! My airpod pros have made it much easier to listen to podcasts while I am doing things around the house, like meal prep and such. I like that I don’t have to have my phone on me when listening so can easily move around the house. I also listen to podcasts on walks and when I run without my running partner. For anyone who is on the edge about airpods, I HIGHLY recommend them!! I was worried they wouldn’t work with my teeny ear canals, but the smallest sizing fits great! They were a splurge for my 40th birthday and work every penny!!!

  • Reply Mark May 5, 2022 at 10:22 am

    I love these questions! I’ve been listening to podcasts for about a decade and have changed apps a few times. Overcast is the app I’ve used for most of that. I’m an “oversubscribe and delete” person, and I usually skim and jump around even within the episodes I listen to. The percentage varies a lot depending on my mood and how much I’m listening to other things like audiobooks. I’d say it’s generally around 30% of the episodes I download, or maybe 5% of the total content because of skimming within episodes. I try to clear out my downloaded episodes within a few days of when they’re released and ideally right away. But I’ll occasionally let a show pile up for 6+ months and do a quick binge of skimming and deleting from that backlog. In terms of rituals, I associate certain shows with the time they’re released, such as listening to BLP on Monday morning before work.

  • Reply Marianne May 5, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    I’m similar to you, but I did recently unsubscribe from several that I’ve had in my feed for a while but haven’t listened to. I’m pretty happy with my lineup right now, so I figured if I haven’t started listening yet I’m probably not going to. My storage was getting full, too, so I needed to let go of my FOMO.

  • Reply Joy May 5, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    I’m similar to you. I have a long list of podcasts I subscribe to and while there are a couple I try to never miss, the rest I listen to as time, whim, and interest allow. I clean out every once in awhile because I know that I can always look back in the list if I want to catch up at a later date.

    I wish I could sit and plan while listening to BLP but I almost exclusively listen to podcasts on my commute. They almost make traffic bearable.

  • Reply coco May 5, 2022 at 5:29 pm

    totally opposite to what I do. I’ve deleted all podcasts that I don’t listen regularly and keep less than 10 in my feed. I only listen when I run so my time for podcast is precious. I used to be a mood listener but I’ve found my favorites and I know I’ll enjoy them 100% whenever I listen to.

  • Reply lawandcreative May 6, 2022 at 3:34 am

    I listen in the Apple podcasts app (and am so stubborn about not changing platforms, have abandoned some podcasts I’ve LOVED when they’ve moved to Spotify… like Brené Brown and Dax Shepherd).

    I oversubscribe and download individual episodes onto a playlist. There are some shows that always go to Play Next in my queue (both of yours, Sarah, and both of Kelsey and Erica’s… I’m binge listening to the Girls Next Door backlist right now) and then others where I’ll listen if the episode appeals to me or just depending what mood I’m in. Sometimes I listen to all of Cal’s Deep Questions, other times I want lighter listens so more heavily go to things like Planners & Wine.

    Podcasts are my absolute favourite type of media, better than TV shows or movies or music, and I’d happily pay a few bucks via Patreon to each of my favourites as a thank you for the hours of listening pleasure they give me!

  • Reply Beth @ Parent Lightly May 6, 2022 at 10:08 am

    Fascinating! I am not an upholder so I feel zero guilt about skipping/deleting episodes. I subscribe to (follow?) a lot of podcasts but I turn off automatic downloads when I find myself skipping/deleting more episodes than not. My auto download list changes pretty significantly based on my mood and what’s happening in my life. However, in general I have mostly shifted to audio books and only occasionally listen to podcasts right now. I’m sure I’ll swing back towards podcasts at some point.

    • Reply Marcia (OrganisingQueen) May 8, 2022 at 6:40 am

      Beth, you sound like me (but I’m an upholder who leans to questioner). My podcast listening time has gone way down, almost to zero, because I prefer to use my time for audio books.

      Sarah, you gave me permission to delete and unsubscribe from podcasts early in the pandemic and…. I haven’t resubscribed to any of those.

      I subscribe to 7 podcasts (I need to unsubscribe from a couple) and immediately download episodes from other shows that sound interesting as I scroll instagram. But once I’ve listened, I delete those episodes so I’m not tempted.

  • Reply Sarah May 8, 2022 at 8:13 am

    My podcast list is very long. I like having options. I use Stitcher and organize in categories based on when I would want to listen to that type of content.

  • Reply Jaime Z May 11, 2022 at 10:32 am

    I wholeheartedly love “Overcast” for podcast listening. I pay $10.99 per year because I don’t want it to disappear but there is a free version that I used for years. I love their “smart speed” which speeds through pauses and is constantly fluctuating the speed instead of sticking to a straight 1.5x for example. It also has “voice boost” what normalizes and regulates the sounds!
    I currently also subscribe to WAY more than I can listen to (62). I also hate having to go to Spotify just to listen to Dax and Brene Brown…but I do it anyway.

    I always listen to 2 news podcasts right when waking up (Newsworthy and Up First). I’ll also listen to financial ones while getting ready in the morning. I always listen to BLP on my drive home on Mondays after a long day at the hospital and I always listen to BOBW while getting ready for work on Tuesdays

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