Photo courtesy Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library

In my day job, I create and teach professional development courses about library marketing. In a recent class, I asked the learners whether they wanted to learn about podcasts as promotional tools. The answer was loud and clear: “YES!”

Many of these library staffers were fans of podcasts. They understand the power of this medium.

Podcasts are fun, informative, and engaging. Listeners get valuable information and insight delivered in a way that feels intimate.

They’re also incredibly convenient. They show up on your phone when and wherever you want to listen to them–while exercising, while grocery shopping, while driving, while doing chores, and while crunching marketing data for your monthly reports. If you go on vacation, you don’t miss anything.

In my quest for lifelong learning and inspiration, I’ve found a bunch of shows that are really awesome–funny, fun, thoughtful, and well-produced. I subscribe to more than 20 podcasts, and I love them all. (If you want my full playlist, it’s at the bottom of this article).

The following four podcasts are essential for anyone who works in library promotion and who wants to do it well. Listening to these four shows will improve your work, inspire you, and help you feel more connected with the world.

I’ve got a blog post coming soon full of valuable advice from libraries with podcasts! Want to be a part of that post? Let me know by completing this short form.

Podcast Recommendation #1: That’s How it All Began from Andrew Davis

This is a series from one of my favorite experts. And, no surprise, it’s packed with incredible, intriguing stories.

In each episode, Andrew Davis focuses on a famous entrepreneur or business owner… except you don’t know who the famous person is until the very end of the episode.

By listening to this show, I’ve learned new techniques for storytelling and suspense. I’m also inspired by the stories. These are people who have found ways to overcome incredible hurdles. And because Andrew Davis is a marketing expert, his stories usually include a turning point, where his subject makes a marketing or promotional decision that changes their life.

Each episode is just 15 minutes or less. It’s the perfect show to listen to on the way to work.

Podcast Recommendation #2: Duct Tape Marketing from John Jantsch

This show was one of the first podcasts created. John Jantsch has been interviewing marketing experts, authors, and business owners about a vast range of topics including leadership since 2005.

I’ve learned a lot of practical marketing tips from this podcast. But this show is also a great example of how to turn an audio experience into an opportunity to drive more traffic to your website.

Each episode has its own website landing page, which includes a show description that’s packed with searchable keywords. John Jantsch shares his key takeaway, the questions he asked the guests, and a full transcript of the show. He also makes it easy to either listen to the show on the landing page or subscribe on a variety of platforms. And at the bottom of the page, he includes a further call to action to watch more podcasts, download a free resource, or sign up for a newsletter.

Each episode is between 20 and 30 minutes long. It’s another perfect show for your commute.

Podcast Recommendation #3: Death, Sex, and Money from WYNC Studios

This show, first released in 2014, is one of my staples. It’s hosted by Anna Sale, and it features stories of celebrities and regular folks talking about the most fundamental of human topics: death, sex, and money.

I’ve learned two big lessons from listening to this podcast. The first is how to interview. Anna Sale is an exemplary listener. That skill naturally allows her to ask deeply thoughtful follow-up questions. I can always tell that she is fully in the moment and present with her interview subjects.

The second lesson is how to offer additional support and resources. For many of her episodes, Sale and her team have created “starter kits.” They include playlists of songs, curated by listeners, to deal with tough subjects or get through challenging times. There are also starter kits for new listeners, featuring the best or most popular episodes, arranged by subject.

Most episodes range in length from 30 to 45 minutes. I usually save them for chore time on weekends. During the pandemic, this show made me feel more connected with the outside world.

Podcast Recommendation #4: This American Life from WBEZ Chicago

Hosted by the incomparable Ira Glass, a staple of NPR, This American Life meshes journalism and storytelling in a seamless and captivating format. It’s a masterclass in storytelling.

From listening to this podcast, I’ve learned how to find extraordinary stories in ordinary settings. Ira Glass and his team often use a technique called “story of self” to introduce a topic. They relate how or why they become interested in this subject. And that, in turn, makes it relatable to their audience.

Like Death, Sex, and Money, I’ve also learned lessons about interviewing from this show. In particular, the team is not afraid of silence when they are interviewing their subjects. They give their interviewees time to think and the audience time to reflect.

This show is a long-form podcast, with episodes lasting around an hour. I listen to this podcast on my walks and the stories are so intriguing and told so expertly that I am always surprised at how fast the time goes.

The rest of my podcast playlist

Armchair Expert


Lovett or Leave It

The Librarian is In


Pod Save America

Professional Book Nerds

Reply All


Sounds Like a Cult

This Old Marketing

Unhappy Hour


You and Me Both

If you have a great podcast suggestion, please let me know in the comments.

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