Public Policy Podcasts

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Public Policy: Trending Issues

Some of the top issues being discussed in the US surrounding public policy include government spending, healthcare, education and environmental policy.

Government Spending


  • Healthcare, especially the cost of healthcare, is one of the major public policy concerns for Americans.
  • One big issue within healthcare has been that of the Medicaid expansion option, as well as adding work requirements to Medicaid.
  • Healthcare is considered important by 77% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans, although almost all Americans felt healthcare was more important than the Trump-Russia scandal.
  • Public Agenda regularly covers healthcare, and the Policy 360 podcast recently released an episode entitled "The Connection Between Medicaid and Democracy."


  • Education was noted as a public policy priority for 68% of Americans.

Environmental Policy

Research Strategy

Topics were selected as trending based on their mention in at least three reputable sources as top topics or topics of note in 2019.
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Podcasts that Discuss Public Policy

The following is a list of ten examples of podcasts that discuss public policy topics in the US.

Podcast #1: The Rachel Maddow Show

  • Rachel Maddow uses her distinctive approach to storytelling to provide in-depth reporting illuminating the current state of political affairs and reveals the importance of transparency and accountability from leaders.
  • Rachel Maddow works with unmatched resolve to explain the complex world and deliver news in a way that is illuminating and dynamic, connecting the dots to make sense of complex issues.

Podcast #2: C-SPAN Radio — Washington Today

  • A Monday to Friday podcast on C-SPAN Radio which highlights the stories of the day in Washington, DC. It encompasses key events and interviews with journalists who provide background and perspective on all fronts.

Podcast #3: Policy on Purpose

  • Policy on Purpose is a podcast from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
  • The podcast is hosted by Angela Evans who is the dean of the LBJ School - the podcast delves into real-world and timely policy topics with experts from the school as well as the policy world at large.

Podcast #4: The Brookings Cafeteria

  • Host Fred Dews interviews experts from the Brookings Institution, a non-profit public policy (think tank) located in Washington, D.C., about their work and thoughts on approaches to the nation's and the world's most important public policy problems

Podcast #5: Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI) Public Policy Podcast

  • The Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), an independent, free-market think tank for public policy, has mixed audio and video content. Economic supply side, tax cuts, reduction of entitlements, privatization. They support lower taxes, fewer regulations, and a smaller government that is less intrusive.

Podcast #6: NC Policy Watch Interviews

  • NC Policy Watch is a public policy group with a simple mission to change the way our elected officials address North Carolina's major issues.

Podcast #7: KQED's The California Report

  • KQED's statewide radio news show, offers regular analysis of problems, developments and public policy decisions that affect California and its diverse population.

Podcast #8: Moving the Needle

  • The faculty of the University of Pennsylvania explores new research-based perspectives that can change the way we view complex economic conditions that drive policy decisions.
  • Studio-quality interview, focused on DC's B-School for Public Policy seminars, addresses a different issue in business and economics every 20 minutes.

Podcast #9: UC3P

  • UC3P is a student-run podcast network based in the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. Our main page hosts current events from across the University of Chicago, politics, research, debates, and more.

Podcast #10: The Public Square

  • The national radio broadcast of the American Policy Roundtable aired coast-to-coast, hosted by Dave Zanotti and Wayne Shepherd. Subscribe and tune in for behind the scene discussions of public policy issues that most talk radio shows won't touch.

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Podcasts that Discuss Public Policy (Part 2)

The following is a list of ten additional podcasts that discuss public policy in the United States, with links to the associated websites provided.

Podcast #1: NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt

  • Lester Holt provides news and analysis of major events and policy decisions from throughout the day at both the national and international levels.

Podcast #2: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates

  • With a focus on U.S. public policy specifically, including topics such as the economy, technology, and religion. It presents itself with having a civilized approach to its discussions with a goal of featuring guests who are "thought-leaders."

Podcast #3: Morning Joe

  • MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinkski, and Willie Geist provide lively and in-depth analysis of news centered around public policy making at the state and federal levels, with topics ranging from nutrition to gun legislation. The trio interview a wide range of guests, all of whom have a relevant background with the topic at hand.

Podcast #4: #Roland Martin Unfiltered

  • Award-winning journalist and author Roland Martin provides this daily podcast on public policy topics with a focus on those related to civil rights.

Podcast #5: Background Briefing with Ian Masters

  • Ian Masters is the host of this podcast, which is described as looking beyond what the mainstream media discusses, with a focus on public policy. Interviews with policymakers are included.

Podcast #6: Harvard Kennedy School's PolicyCast

  • Host Thoko Moyo runs this podcast from Harvard Kennedy School; it includes interviews with leading experts in a large variety of topics centered around public policy at the national and international levels.

Podcast #7: The Current by Brookings

  • Brookings provides this podcast, which provides a rapid analysis of changing public policies in the United States and around the world. The hosts/reporters change with each segment.

Podcast #8: The Weeds by Vox

  • Vox editors dig deep into the weeds for these stories related to national public policy related to topics including immigration, health care, and housing.

Podcast #9: The Al Franken Podcast

  • Former U.S. Senator, author, and comedian Al Franken hosts this podcast centered on United States public policy. Recent topics include immigration, foster care, and voter suppression.

Podcast #10: The Georgetown Public Policy Review Podcast

  • This student-run podcast is an extension of the Georgetown Public Policy Review academic journal. It includes interviews with public policy experts, with recent topics including foreign policy, family-related policies, and welfare and immigration.

Podcast #11: UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy's Talk Policy to Me

  • This podcast is put out regularly by the Goldman School of Public Policy; it includes a wide range of national public policy topics, recently including transportation, civic design, and tax policy.

Podcast #12: Climate One

  • An award-winning podcast hosted by Greg Dalton, Climate One focuses on public policy specifically related to climate awareness. His guests included policymakers, activists, and climate scientists.

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Most Successful Public Policy-related Podcasts

These are the three most successful podcasts that discuss public policy. They include The Daily, The Rachel Maddow Show and The Ben Shapiro Show. In this research we used popular podcast hosts such Apple and Stitcher to view ratings and reviews. We also viewed how the shows charted on Chartable.

Podcast #1: The Daily

  • The Daily consistently tops the charts of podcasts that discuss public policy, news and politics on Apple and Chartable.
  • With over 300 episodes so far, The Daily podcast has a 4.6 out of 5 rating from 50,000 ratings on Apple Podcasts.
  • It has high and positive reviews on Apple Podcast page.
  • The Daily podcast offers daily insights and soundbites into the daily comings and goings of major news events, budget and taxes, social welfare, culture and society: abortion, arts, and civil rights in the US.
  • The podcast is a daily show which covers a broad variety of topics, with each podcast offering a bit of new spin on current breaking news headlines with a political focus.
  • It is hosted by Michael Barbaro dissecting through different biggest stories of the time with top journalists.
  • The Daily podcast does not have any dedicated social media pages however Michael Barbaro posts the podcasts on his Twitter and Facebook pages which generate high engagement amongst his followers.
  • The Daily Podcast has been nominated for the podcast of the year in the iHeart Radio Podcasts Awards for 2019 and 2020.

Podcast #2: The Rachel Maddow Show

  • The Rachel Maddow Show has a 4.9 out of 5 rating on Stitcher and 4.5 out 5 rating on Apple Podcasts.
  • Rachel Maddow is the host of the podcast, she is also an Emmy Award-winning “The Rachel Maddow Show” on MSNBC.
  • The podcast features Rachel Maddow’s take on the biggest stories of the day, political and otherwise, including a lively debate with guests from all sides of the issues, in-depth analysis news and stories covering.
  • The MSNBC podcast takes an intelligent look at social welfare, politics, pop culture, and top news.
  • The Rachel Maddow Show is highly charted on Apple Podcasts which cover public policy, news, and politics.
  • The Rachel Maddow Show podcast has no independent social media accounts but the podcasts are posted on MSNBC's “The Rachel Maddow Show” Facebook, similarly on Rachel Maddow Facebook and Twitter profile. The podcasts generate high interactions, engagements and conversations on these pages are so high and show how much the podcast is successful.

Podcast #3: The Ben Shapiro Show

  • With a 4.6 out 5 rating with almost 75,000 ratings from fans on Apple Podcasts this, The Ben Shapiro Show is one of the most successful podcasts that discuss public policy topics in the US.
  • The podcast is hosted by Ben Shapiro who principles the show on promising his fans to brace towards hearing the hard-hitting truth in a comprehensive, conservative, principled fashion way.
  • This podcast cuts across the day to day major headlines from politics, criminal justice, culture and society, education, economic affairs and reviews the hot topics through a conservative lens.
  • The Ben Shapiro Show has been nominated for the "Majority Report Politics & News Category" award in the 2019 Slate Podcast Awards.
  • The Ben Shapiro Show won the "Best News Podcast" the year award in the iHeart Radio Podcasts Awards 2019.
  • The Ben Shapiro Show has been nominated for the "Best Political Podcast" iHeart Radio Podcasts Awards for 2020.
  • The Ben Shapiro Show episodes are usually posted on Ben Shapiro's social media platform: Facebook and Twitter — where he has a huge following and the podcasts generate high interactions, engagements and conversations on these pages are so high and how much the podcast is successful.
  • Ben Shapiro has over 5 Million followers on Facebook and almost 2.5 Million on Twitter.
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Public Policy Podcasts that Went Viral

The podcast audience in the United States keeps increasing. Some public policy podcast episodes that have gone viral on social media in the US include No Child’s Play, Viral, and Devin’s Gate.

1) No Child’s Play

a) How/Why it went Viral
  • No child’s play podcast made news about children in harrowing ways. Images of kids in cages under Trump’s immigration policy made the podcast to go viral around the world.
  • Further, the podcast went viral because it coincided with the World Refugee Day’s commemoration by the international community. The podcast was about children's protection in an era of mass migration.
b)The Podcast's Audience
c) Format of the Podcast at Delivery

2) Viral

a)How/Why it went Viral
b)The Podcast's Audience
c)Format of the Podcast at Delivery

3) Devin’s Gate

a)How/Why it went Viral
b)The Podcast's Audience
c) Format of the Podcast at Delivery

Research Strategy

In order to find the public policy podcast episodes that went viral on social media in the US, the research team consulted on podcasts that focus on policy such as Pod Save America. Further, the team combed in databases such as Policy Forum Pod for viral podcast episodes. A podcast episode was considered to be viral if it is listed among the popular podcast episodes in the US. From these resources, No Child’s Play, Viral, and Devin’s Gate are among the public policy podcast episodes that went viral on social media in the US.
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Public Policy Podcast Influencers

Joy Ann Reid, Ana Marie Cox, Wayne Dupree, Pamela Geller and Matt Drudge are several key social media influencers in the US that are involved in public policy podcasts and journalism.

Joy Ann Reid

  • Joy Ann Reid is a NYC-based television analyst and host of the AM Joy show on MSNBC, co-host of the podcast Reid This / Reid That, the author of several books and a journalist with articles published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Daily Beast and New York Magazine, among other notable publications.
  • Ms. Reid was selected as a key social media influencer in public policy podcasts and journalism because of her ranking as the top political social media influencer by credible outlets such as Vents Magazine and Agility PR, her position as co-host of a popular public policy podcast and her extensive presence in journalism across major outlets.
  • Additionally, Ms. Reid has a substantial following on Facebook (208 thousand followers), Instagram (190 thousand followers) and Twitter (1.9 million followers).
  • Meanwhile, she can be contacted through her book publisher Harper Collins through Natalie Duncan at

Ana Marie Cox

  • Ana Marie Cox is a Minneapolis-based political columnist, podcast host of the show With Friends Like These and a regular host and guest political correspondent on MTV, the Real Time and other prominent broadcasts.
  • Ms. Cox was selected as a key social media influencer in public policy podcasts and journalism because of her ranking as the second and third most dominant social media influencer in politics by Vents Magazine and Agility PR, respectively.
  • Additionally, she was chosen because she has a prominent presence as editor of the Washington Post, has been featured as a columnist across top-tier outlets including Sports Illustrated and Esquire and is the host of a popular podcast.
  • Moreover, Ms. Cox has an extensive following on social media channels such as Twitter (1.2 million followers), Facebook (1 thousand followers) and Instagram (17.4 thousand followers).

Wayne Dupree

  • Wayne Dupree is a US-based veteran, political commentator, owner of the popular website, journalist and host of a leading conservative radio show and podcast The Wayne Dupree Show.
  • Among his many accolades, Mr. Dupree was recognized in 2018 as a Pioneer Of New Media, in 2017 as a Newsmax Top 50 Influential Black Republican, in 2015 as blogger of the year and in 2014 as podcaster of the year.
  • He was selected as a key social media influencer in public policy podcasts and journalism first and foremost because of his ranking as the third and fourth most dominant social media influencer in politics by Vents Magazine and Agility PR, respectively.
  • Additionally, Mr. Dupree has a key public policy presence in journalism as a regular contributor to publications including The Washington Times, Newsmax, The Political Insider, Headline Politics and, while his radio show and podcast is a well-known outlet for high profile guests including the "veritable who's who" of conservative politics.
  • Moreover, Mr. Dupree has an extensive following on Facebook (428 thousand followers), Instagram (19 thousand followers) and Twitter (391 thousand followers).
  • Meanwhile, he can be contacted via phone at (443) 546-0273 or email at

Pamela Geller

  • Pamela Geller is a NYC-based bestselling author of three books, the founder of publication The Geller Report, the founder of the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA) program, and a regular columnist and guest for many high profile publications and podcasts.
  • Ms. Geller was selected as a key social media influencer in public policy podcasts and journalism because of her ranking as the fourth and fifth most dominant social media influencer in politics by Vents Magazine and Agility PR, respectively, as well as her numerous published articles and guest appearances across podcast and news outlets such as CNN, Reuters, Time Magazine, The Hill and The New York Times.
  • Moreover, Ms. Geller has an extensive following on Facebook (1.3 million followers), Instagram (110 thousand followers) and Twitter (200 thousand followers).

Matt Drudge

  • Matt Drudge is a US-based political commentator, journalist, radio show host, TV show host and creator of the popular conservative news aggregation website the DRUDGE REPORT.
  • Mr. Drudge was selected as a key social media influencer in public policy podcasts and journalism because of his ranking as the second and fifth most dominant social media influencer in politics by Agility PR and Vents Magazine, respectively.
  • Additionally, he is well-known for his prominent radio show and podcast the Drudge Report Report as well as his ubiquitous presence as a guest and journalist across top-tier national media outlets.
  • Moreover, Mr. Drudge has an extensive following on Facebook (51 thousand followers) and Twitter (586 thousand followers).
  • Meanwhile, he can be contacted through the DRUDGE REPORT at

Research Strategy

Please note, for the purpose of this analysis, Matt Drudge's Instagram following was not included because the social media influencer does not have an account with this social media channel. Although many copy-cat accounts are present, such as drudge_report, thedrudgereport, drudge13 and drudgematt59ca, an extensive search of the social media site confirms that Mr. Drudge does not have a verified account with this channel.
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Creating Public Policy Podcasts: Best Practices

Five best practices to make a political podcast successful in the US are following a plan, adhering to a schedule, investing in quality audio, making it search-friendly, and promoting it.

1. Follow a Plan

  • Every top quality podcast in the world spends hours preparing and researching the material, even if it is an interview or a casual conversation.
  • Planning is involved in every aspect of podcasting, from choosing the topic, researching guests, contacting them, preparing them, creating questions, outlining of the show, building a script, listing the information to cover, deciding the time of the show, how will it be recorded, published, edited, and promoted, etc.
  • Before starting the podcast, a strategy must be in place to avoid dead air, redundancy, unplanned commentaries, appearing to be lost, and losing the audience by appearing unprepared or inexperienced in the topic.
  • While doing the script, it is important to know the main message, take-away, or value, and summarize at the end.
  • Understanding how long it takes to prepare each episode's content is also a significant factor in determining the publishing frequency.
  • The Daily podcast plans shows with news and political input of twenty minutes, for which they have a strategy of having the content ready by the time they go to air and get straight to the point in their message. The Daily is one of the top political podcasts in the country.

2. Adhere to a Consistent Schedule

  • Making the podcast easy to follow is an important factor of becoming successful, to do it, the audience must know when the new episodes are aired and upload regularly sticking to the promised schedule, that way it's easier to build a followers base.
  • Adhering to the promised schedule makes it easier for the audience to rely on it. A few recommendations are weekly episodes on the same day, bi-weekly, monthly, or depending on the audience, even daily.
  • Political Gabfest follows this best practice by implementing a regular schedule once a week. The Daily podcast airs twenty minutes per day, five days a week, at six a.m., this is one of the factors that has made them two of the most popular political podcasts in the US.

3. Invest in Quality Audio

  • To have a successful podcast, not only the content needs to be of quality, but the delivery too. Having bad audio is one of the main reasons to lose listeners, even if the content is great if the audience can't hear it properly, it doesn't matter.
  • To improve audio quality, it's recommended to learn audio editing with tools like Ardour, Reaper, or even free tools like LMMS, and Audacity. If possible, hire a professional audio engineer.
  • It's important to select microphones that integrate with the work style of the podcast team, like USB or XLR microphones, individual, or group microphones.
  • While investing in podcast microphones helps a lot, some famous podcasts use earbuds, smartphone microphones, and phone tools, which is possible, as long as the recording environment is quiet, and has been soundproofed to reduce background noise.
  • The Ben Shapiro Show uses a quality microphone to conduct its podcast, the NT1-A Condenser Microphone by Rode, considered one of the top ten microphones for podcasting. It also has an adapted recording studio to provide better quality, becoming the ninth most downloaded iTunes podcast and one of the top political podcasts in the US.

4. Searchability

  • The podcast name, author, host, and episode titles must be easily searchable to help the audience find and listen to the content or go back to it again. Using keywords, episode descriptions, show notes that are search-friendly is a plus.
  • It is important to publish the podcast on iTunes because it has the largest audience of listeners, it's easy to use, free. It can also be published in other podcast sites, like Stitcher or Spotify, and do test searches to know if it is easy to find.
  • Clear notes, descriptions, and easy access can drive the audience to come back and encourage new listeners to try the content.
  • Pod Save America, for example, is easily accessible and searchable in multiple podcast platforms, including iTunes, art19, Spotify, Stitcher, etc. In less than a year, this podcast has been listed as a genre leader in News & Politics by Apple.

5. Promote

  • Podcasting requires active work in every episode, time, and investing in marketing and promotion and, if done correctly, can successfully attract more listeners.
  • To promote the content, it can be submitted to different directories, like Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and using RSS feeds.
  • Some common ways to promote a podcast include using a website, social media channels, social media ads, merch, giveaways, create events, partnerships, RSS feed, and making it easy to share to promote using word-of-mouth, inviting guests, asking guests to share and promote the upcoming podcast, sharing the podcast video in YouTube, and even regular advertising.
  • Also, giving access to guests to the final audio track can be useful to promote the interview, using their website and social channels.
  • NPR Politics podcast uses newsletters and social media to promote its content, making it one of the top ten most listened political podcasts in the country.

From Part 03
  • "Listen to "NBC Nightly News," providing reports and analysis of the day's most newsworthy national and international events. This audio podcast, updated each weekday evening by, brings you the day's show in its entirety."
  • "Let's restore critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to American public discourse. Join the debate and hear both sides of every issue."
  • "Present the world’s thought-leaders to illuminate complex topics from multiple perspectives."
  • "Join Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, and Willie Geist, for in-depth and informed discussions that help drive the day's political conversation. Top newsmakers, Washington insiders, journalists, and cultural influencers, come together on Morning Joe for unparalleled insight and analysis around the day's biggest stories."
  • "Building a reality-based community in post-truth America."
  • "Learn how leaders in public policy, media, and international affairs are confronting the world's most pressing public problems. "
  • "The Current brings you smart, timely, and quick analysis from Brookings experts on breaking news and changing policies. In under ten minutes, learn not only what happened, but why, and how to make sense of it."
  • "Every Tuesday and Friday, Matthew Yglesias is joined by Ezra Klein, Dara Lind, Jane Coaston, and other Vox voices to dig into the weeds on important national issues, including health care, immigration, housing, and everything else that matters."
  • "A five-time Emmy winning SNL comedy writer/producer, joins a four-time #1 NYT bestselling author, a three-time highest-rated national progressive radio host, a two-time Grammy winning artist, and a former US Senator. So, it gets a little crowded in the booth when Al talks public policy and sometimes political comedy with notable guests. "
  • "Policy decisions matter to you every day. We're here to explain them."
  • "Talk Policy To Me is brought to you by the Goldman School of Public Policy and the Berkeley Institute for the Future of Young Americans."
  • "Did you miss the conversation? All of our programs are available via our weekly podcast. "
  • "Best Green Podcast"
From Part 06