Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang Leading 2020 Candidates in Podcast Airtime

Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang
SAUL LOEB, Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Two dozen Democrat presidential candidates are vying for attention on any platform available, but when it comes to podcast appearances, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang are winning that contest.

Williamson has racked up four days and 19 hours of airtime, and Yang two days and 12 hours of airtime.

TheWrap reported on this election niche:

Podcast executives and political observers who spoke with TheWrap say podcasts give non-traditional candidates an unprecedented launching pad for exposure. But they don’t expect podcasting to become a significant factor in left-wing politics, the way AM radio and Fox News have become incubators for right-wing stars.

Every one of the top 20 Democratic candidates who appeared in the first 2020 debates has also appeared on a podcast, according to, which pulls information from every publicly available RSS feed. 

Unlike TV and radio shows, podcasts allow candidates to hold long, substantive conversations, sometimes for an hour or more. Podcast listeners are often driving, exercising, or otherwise relatively captive. Headphones can make listening to a podcast feel uniquely personalized.

Podcasts are relatively new to U.S. elections — TheWrap noted that President Donald Trump did not appear in one podcast prior to his election in 2016, and Hillary Clinton did not do any podcast appearances prior to 2016.

And in 2016, only 36 percent of Americans had listened to a podcast compared to half of the U.S. population listening to podcasts today, according to TheWrap’s source, Edison Research.

“The progressive ‘Pod Save America’ yields more than 1.5 million listeners per episode,” TheWrap reported. “The ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ averages at least a million downloads per episode.”

Zach Graumann, Yang’s campaign manager, has said the candidate’s podcast appearance with Rogan is what got the news out across the country about the high-tech entrepreneur’s presidential platform, which includes giving every American a $1,000 monthly check.

One expert said in TheWrap report that Yang and Williamson, a New Age author, might not have had even the little traction they have so far without the podcast exposure.

“Some have called this the hidden primary,” Yphtach Lelkes, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, said. “The ability to easily share podcasts and other forms of new media allow fans to also act as conduits of information, getting past gatekeepers.”

Those “gatekeepers” are the people who book people on television, for example, and are looking to get the biggest audience possible.

“There’s not a mass audience you’re appealing to,” Lelkes said. “You’re collecting a bunch of small audiences because the media is so fragmented. You have to create a coalition of audiences.”

The other candidates rounding out the top ten in podcast appearances are, in order from third to tenth:

• Joe Biden, 370 podcast episode appearances

• Pete Buttigieg, 69 podcast episode appearances

• Bernie Sanders, 57 podcast appearances

• Tim Ryan, 52 podcast appearances

• Amy Klobuchar, 49 podcast appearances

• John Hickenlooper, 41 podcast appearances

• Jay Inslee, 40 podcast appearances

• Elizabeth Warren, 40 podcast appearances

Eric Swalwell, who dropped out of the race earlier this month, had done 48 podcast appearances.

See the whole list on the @podchaser Twitter account here.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.


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