Many of the convention’s attendees will undoubtedly come from the podcast’s 35,000-member-strong Facebook communitywhich Gethard calls “one of the only genuinely chill, respectful corners of the internet.” Others, though, will come from the podcast’s long roster of previously anonymous guests. “We’re going to have this whole convention where you can just walk around and be like, ‘There’s the guys who bought a record store in Ohio. There’s the 39-year-old grandma. There are the guys who are really into pickling and who yelled at me at that live show in Detroit …’” Gethard says. “Attendees will get to meet the people whose stories they’ve heard unfold over the years.”
There are more than 360 episodes of Beautiful/Anonymousand that mountain of content has most certainly contributed to the show’s rabid fan base. Adam Sachs, senior vice president of podcast programming for SiriusXM, says he thinks shows like Gethard’s or Comedy Bang! Bang!which just released its 800th episode, have built their communities thanks in part to the sheer volume of their work. “The longer you listen, the richer the experience,” says Sachs. “You can’t build a canon in 20 episodes. It’s really hard to establish inside jokes in a short amount of time.”
Sachs knows this from experience. He came to SiriusXM when the company acquired Conan O’Brien’s podcast company, Team Coco. Even before O’Brien launched his own podcast, Conan O’Brien Needs a FriendTeam Coco had been acquiring a fan base and was able to build on that when the podcast launched. One big boost came from releasing episodes and clips on the YouTube channel that previously just hosted bits from O’Brien’s late-night shows. YouTube listenership of the podcast grew thanks to that, and Sachs says those fans appear to be different—and younger—than those who may have found the podcast via traditional audio methods.
That doesn’t apply just to YouTube. Sachs notes that Podcrushedwhich is cohosted by You star Penn Badgley, has more than 14 million TikTok followers consuming its clips, and at least some of of them are likely to become full episode listeners.
Away from social media, You Must Remember This host Karina Longworth is teaming with American Cinematheque for “Erotic Tuesdays,” a screening series at a Los Angeles theater, launching on March 28, of racy films featured in recent and upcoming episodes of her podcast. And The Sporkful’s Dan Pashman created a signature pasta shape, castleswhich has become so popular it’s now available in more than 2,000 stores.
From Scheer’s point of view, building community is all about offering listeners (and potential listeners) a unique experience. For instance, when How Did This Get Made? tours, he and his cohort will record those conversations for eventual release but will also cut our parts, meaning only attendees of that actual show get the full experience.
“I think that podcasting is taking over the slot that stand-up once had, because there are amazing stand-up comedians, but when you go out on the road with a podcast, you’re going to see a different show every single night,” Scheer says. “Because of that, we’ll have people follow us from town to town. It’s kind of like going to see the Dead, in a way.”