“Did you listen to this week’s Serial?” That’s been the question on everyone’s lips the past three months. The podcast, which reexamined the 1999 murder case of a Baltimore teenager, become morning Gchat convo—and launched a thousand think pieces declaring 2014 “The Golden Age of Podcasts.”
While individual podcasts have previously broken through the cultural consciousness—like comedian Marc Maron’s WTF in 2009—the genre has generally been a niche interest since it hit iTunes in 2005. That year, there were only about 3,000 podcasts up and running. A decade later, that number has mushroomed to more than 285,000 podcasts, created in over 100 languages. The DIY radio of the Internet is now a bona fide medium, heard by an estimated 39 million Americans a month.
To celebrate the format’s true coming of age—it is indeed “golden”—our very own obsessive pod people are telling you what you must hear in the new year.