Public Policy Podcasts


To determine the following:

1. The trending issues in the field of public policy (i.e. those being widely discussed in podcasts, blogs, press, social media).
2. A list of podcasts that talk about public policy.
3. A list of public policy podcasts that are considered to be the most successful.
4. A list of topics/episodes/discussions on public policy podcasts that went viral, along with an explanation of how/why it went viral, who the podcast's audience is, what format the podcast is delivered in, and any other additional information about the podcast.
5. A list of key figures and influencers in the realm of public policy podcasts, journalism, and on social media, along with their contact information.

Early Findings

Trending Issues in Public Policy

  • Budgeting issues, education funding, and Medicaid expansion are among some top issues being discussed surrounding public policy, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Podcasts That Discuss Public Policy

According to the Harvard Kennedy School, the following podcasts are focused on public policy:
  • HSK PolicyCast
  • Real Democracy Now!
  • Brookings Podcast Network
  • DecodeDC
  • The Weeds Podcast
  • Gov Innovator
  • Pod Save America

Successful Public Policy Podcasts

  • iTunes lists Pod Save America among popular political podcasts.
  • Pod Save America has 4.6 stars on iTunes across 57.1 thousand ratings. Variety states that this podcast often explores public policy. Pod Save America has 469.2 thousand followers on Twitter.
  • Pod Save America is a podcast operated by Crooked Media. On the Crooked Media YouTube account, the most popular upload by Pod Save America has 447,000 views. The second most popular upload has 217,000 views.

Viral Episode - Rachael Maddow on Pod Save America

  • Rachael Maddow appeared on Pod Save America as a guest co-host. The episode is PSA's second most viral podcast, according to viewership on their YouTube channel (as noted above). When analyzing the podcast's top-liked comments, the comments are mostly about how people are excited that Rachael is on the show because she is well-liked among the audience. Rachael's influence is likely a key reason for this episode's popularity.
  • Based on analysis of those commenting on this episode, the audience appears to be a fairly even mixture of men and women. Pod Save America is hosted by former Obama aides, therefore, it appears to have a democratic leaning.
  • Pod Save America is available on iTunes, YouTube, on it's official website, and other podcast streaming sites.

Results of Early Findings

  • There is a sufficient amount of information available to perform a deep dive into trending issues in the field of public policy.
  • There is a sufficient amount of information available that can be used to build a list of podcasts that focus on public policy.
  • When looking at things like social media following and iTunes ratings, it is possible to determine which podcasts are among the most successful. However, podcast viewership ratings are notoriously difficult to pin down and analyze due to the fragmented nature (i.e. multiple channels) in which podcasts are distributed and the fact that the majority of these channels do not make viewership data publicly available.
  • When looking at podcast episodes published on YouTube, it is possible to identify those that have gone viral by analyzing view count. YouTube's comments filter can be used to isolate the top comments to help assess/make logical assumptions as why the podcast episode is popular among viewers. An analysis of what channels the podcast is available on can help illustrate the format in which the podcast is delivered.
  • With regard to viral podcast episodes, it may be tricky to make determinations as to who the audience is, given that hard data regarding the audience of specific podcasts/episodes does not tend to be publicly available, however, analyzing comments posted on the podcast episode, social media following, and the overall political leaning of the podcast can help provide some insight.
  • Although no early findings were presented, some high level research into the key figures and influencers in the realm of public policy has determined that it would be possible to craft a list of such individuals. given the amount of available information.

Research proposal:

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