Why the Podcasting Industry Creates Podfade: I. The Squishy Reasons

Carrie Caulfield Arick
6 min readApr 9, 2022

This will be an article in several parts. Maybe an entire dissertation. Because ya’ll don’t talk about this and I have a lot to say through my own experience. And my New Year Resolution was to yell more. Part two can be found here.

Podfade’s Morality is Neutral for People and the Industry at Large.

But we treat it as a negative.

In my experience, whenever an industry leader talks about Anchor or the number of active shows in this medium, there’s usually some sort of snarky tone or chuckle. Maybe even a guffaw. Sometimes disdain.

Podfade is considered a problem.

Yet, no one is clear why or who needs to fix the problem. The people who do talk about podfade prevention are missing the mark completely with a blame Anchor strategy. Any education is for podcasters on podfade, besides a handful is… er, too enthusiastic…? It’s all #fail. (obviously it’s not working, either)

Despite articles like this one (and they’re mostly all like that), podfade has only gotten worse. As access to creation tools and information grows around the world, we can expect podfade to follow this trend. The pandemic only accelerated the upward trend.

Yet, somehow, industry leaders were shocked when the data first came out. (a lot of marginalized people were like, “wow, but I get it”)

The industry addressed this number (after recording many episodes about that data) by writing another article. Hold another event. Pitching another talk on preventing podfade with more work and patience. All a regurgitation of the same tropes and cliches and bro culture attitudes. And also get over yourself, lazy podcaster cause I did the thing you can’t do.

75% of podcasts are no longer active. Or some stat like that. It’s a lot is the point.

Is the math giving us the human picture? Are they using the data to find solutions to ‘podfading’? I am arguing a big, fat, NO.

Let’s start with the obvious… or what I think is obvious. Podcasting is a creative endeavor. Creativity has a life-cycle. Creativity is more about exploration and play than it is about creating or producing content.

And sometimes (and this is gonna sting) people try podcasting and DON’T LIKE IT. Or hate it. Or decide it’s not for them. That’s not podfade. That’s experimentation. Yay for those people who now know what’s not for them. They’re one step closer to finding what does light them up.

Podcasting will survive without them. Because it was never gonna succeed with them.

How many of you reading have tried a creative hobby, enjoyed it for a hot second, then moved on to something else?

Did you ever hear your mom go on rants about Macraméfade?

Did you breadbakingfade after lockdown?

I know for a fact many of you are blogfaders. I’ve googled you.

And I know that podcasters translate into actual dollars for many of us, including me. I have skin in this conversation… podcasters literally feed my family. But every creative industry has this issue. We aren’t special.

Hobbyists filter in and out. I saw it all the time when I worked in scrapbooking. For every 100 customers that leave the hobby, a certain percentage would later return.

That’s a BUSINESS problem. A YOU problem. Not an average podcaster problem. Math and marketing. But if an industry doesn’t figure it out how to bring back old enthusiasts and create new ones, it dies. (and we’ll talk more on that in part 3)

Is that why there’s such disdain for podfading from our industry leaders? And why aren’t they figuring out a solution? (ya’ll can see the data from other industries, even)

You Don’t Know Your Audience.

The conversations around podfading are, in my opinion as a seasoned professional, ridiculously short-sighted and harmful to the industry. That disdain, that scoff, that snark… that creates shame. And shame doesn’t bode well for sustaining podcasters. It actually causes more podfade.

How many first-time podcasters that listen to that snark come back to try show number 2 after podfading? (I’d love to see that data collected)

Are we unintentionally making moral judgments as an industry about potential change-makers, innovators, and potential customers that steers them away from us. Yes. Stop it!

What does podfading mean for Bob, our audience member?

Well, it doesn’t mean Bob is a bad podcaster for putting out seven episodes and then giving up. It didn’t mean he failed. Not really.

Maybe Bob didn’t like his show. Maybe Bob’s mom died. Maybe Bob was busy at work. Maybe Bob was simply experimenting and testing the medium. Maybe Bob wasn’t really ready. Maybe Bob is simply the kinda person who needs fail a few times before getting it right.

Until it does. Because Bob heard your snark and went, “screw this.” Or maybe he saw that “successful podcasters never podfade if they simply stick to these best practices articles.” Articles that don’t take into consideration that Bob is a) not you and b) having a unique human experience that you find it easier to ignore. (as no one wants to pay for the research or UX designers to talk to people like Bob cause no one is actually thinking about Bob)

I wasn’t Bob. I didn’t say screw this. But all the industry talk from industry leaders about podfading made me feel ashamed to say I’ve podfaded. I’d say retire. That’s really a lie to hide the fact that when my family was in crisis — as in years later, my son is still in trauma therapy — I didn’t have the energy to keep putting out content for my show. And then crisis happened again. And again. (which now is like DUH, I did podcasting right at that time)

My name is Carrie and I’ve podfaded 3 times.

I also have a show that’s celebrating its first birthday soon. Because I needed to have those 3 shows to figure out how to both manage a podcasting life. No thanks to the most influential voices in podcasting. And I’m a unicorn, especially as a customer.

Now, I realize my life is probably a little crazier than most (I hope for your sake) and more cat-filled. But I’m tired of being made to feel less than because I tried something that didn’t work for me. I’m with Bob. Screw this attitude.

Show me the data you’ve collected on that experience for podcasters. Show me how you’ve used that information to keep podcasters podcasting. Show me how you promote this conversation in the community at large.

Where are those articles by thought leaders outside the marginalized communities?

Podfade isn’t part of the vocabulary I use.

What I tell my clients now: It has to work for you or it doesn’t work for your audience.

I don’t work to prevent podfade. I help them make it work. I help people to reevaluate and refine.

I help people quit podcasting. I also help them communicate that with their audience. But if they didn’t, oh well. Do you, boo. And I support them despite that.

Because I know first hand that you can drop off the face of the earth and come back better. It’s what I did.

I tell podcasters how to keep their feed active indefinitely because that way, they’re impact is perpetual. And the door is always open for their return.

I help people tell their stories, not mine. I’m always so disappointed when the industry leaders only want their stories told. And that’s what ignoring the real reasons for podfade does. It tells one story. Over and over again until everyone believes.

So, what our current conversation does is currently go against every positive thing we tout about podcasting. It diminishes and deflects. And without confronting this problem and finding real solutions, podcasting won’t attract the new generations it needs to sustain it.



Carrie Caulfield Arick

Podcast Production Expert. Combing the Indie + Corporate Worlds. Thought Leader. Teacher. Advocate. Speaker. Glitter Lover. Your fairy podmother. Now 50% more