If you remember 2014 as the year your life was momentarily consumed by the highly acclaimed, podcast phenomenon that was Serial Season 1, you are not alone. Serial — and other popular podcasts that are helmed by women — are pushing media democratization forward. Mostly because the audience for female driven podcasts is (clearly) getting louder. Right now, Serial sits at the number one spot on iTunes, followed by This American Life (whose staff is composed of thirteen females and seven males, and sometimes features female journalists). The voices, producers, and co-creators in the top 150 are still overwhelmingly male, but there's a noticeable shift. Female creative teams are making headway.
According to CNN.com, Serial Season 1 had reached almost 40 million downloads by the time its final episode debuted. The story behind Season 1 of Serial was, in a word, engrossing. But Serial's value goes beyond cultural captivation. In journalism, a sphere dominated by men — Women's Media Center reports that men receive 62 percent of the credits across journalistic fields — the fact that Serial was co-created, produced, and hosted by women was, and still is, something to note.
Last year, NPR's programming VP, Eric Nuzum, explained NPR's other popular podcast, Invisibillia, “A lot of things that people have embraced about Invisibilia would have been deal killers years ago: two young women, who kind of sound alike, talking about science. People would have asked, ‘Can two young women really talk about science?’ Now that would be a ridiculous question.” Can female-led podcasts hold their own in a male-dominated space? Now that would be a ridiculous question. Take these eight podcasts as proof.
The podcast that put podcasts on the map began its second season December 10. People can't get enough of the episodic story telling — or Sarah Koenig's voice.
Another podcast that centers around stories of true-life crime, Criminal — and its host, Phoebe Judge — explores a new narrative each episode, with the same kind of nuance and attention to detail that makes Serial so enthralling.
3. Guys We F*****d
Corinne Fisher and Krystyna Hutchinson co-host the "Anti-slut shaming podcast." The stand up comedians delve into the taboo — by interviewing past men they've slept with — and are committed to changing the way women talk about sex and sexuality.
Co-hosted by Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel, Invisibilia is another NPR darling that's captivated audiences since it started. It's a show that's obsessed with the forces that we cannot see or physically touch, and how those things shape us as humans.
5. Death, Sex & Money
Death, Sex & Money , hosted and produced by Anna Sale, explores everything that isn't considered polite, dinner conversation.
6. Another Round
Buzzfeed's podcast, Another Round , covers pretty much everything Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton want to cover, which is what makes it so refreshingly candid and hilarious.
7. Women Of The Hour
Hosted by Lena Dunham, Women Of The Hour is a podcast that wears its feminism loud and proud. Of course, that's everything you'd expect from Girls creator and outspoken purveyor of gender equality, Dunham.
8. Stuff Mom Never Told You
The basis of this podcast, hosted by Cristen Conger and Caroline Ervin, is in the title. The hosts discuss everything — from the "Cult of Domesticity" to adult acne — that your mom might have missed.
It's become increasingly evident that the sound of radio has been broadened to include more female voices. Let's hope 2016 is another step in the right direction.
Images: iTunes (8)