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Podcast vs Radio: Differences & Similarities & How to Choose

Find out what's the difference between podcasts vs radio! We go over these audio-formats pros and cons to help you decide what's best.
Kendall Breitman
Social Media & Community Expert
Last Updated:
March 9, 2024
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

Podcasts and radio shows exist in very similar spaces, so it can be difficult to untangle the exact differences or work out which is ‘better’.

It’s also fair to ask whether the rising popularity of podcasts signals an end to radio broadcasts. But with the undeniable strength of both mediums, it’s worth considering their relative advantages and disadvantages before cutting one out completely.

In this article, we dissect the differences and similarities between podcast and radio, walking you through their individual properties, pros and cons, and ultimately how to choose between them.


  • A podcast show is generally pre-recorded audio (and sometimes video) content.
  • Radio shows are usually broadcast live.
  • Podcasts let you reach a global audience and give your listeners the ability to tune in on-demand. Your listeners need to tune in at the exact time of your broadcast to be able to hear your radio show.
  • Choosing between podcasts and radio shows depends on what you’re looking to get out of your content as well as what kind of audience you want to reach.  

Podcasts vs. Radio: What’s the difference?

It’s easy to see why podcasts and radio shows are pitched against each other. There’s a lot of overlap in terms of format, audience, and the way they’re created and produced. Let’s take a look at them individually:

What is a podcast?

A podcast is a program you distribute in downloadable digital format over the internet. Podcasts are generally pre-recorded audio (and sometimes video) content based on dialogue. Though some creators also do live podcasts with an audience.

What is a radio show?

A radio program is content that is broadcast over the radio at a particular time. Radio shows can be live or pre-recorded, though generally, they feature a live host and are broadcast in real-time.

They are distinct from podcasts in that they are broadcast at one set time. This means audiences have to tune into the right channel at the scheduled time if they want to listen. In addition, radio shows are always audio-based.

Similarities and Differences between Podcasts vs Radio

Let’s take a closer look at the key similarities and differences between podcasts and radio shows:

Live vs Recorded

As we touched on earlier, radio shows tend to be broadcast live. This means you’ve got to take slip-ups in your stride and deal with technical problems on the fly. You also need to live mix your show, adding music, sound effects or cueing other content as you go.

Whereas since most podcasts are pre-recorded, you get do-overs if something goes wrong or if you’re not satisfied with the quality. Plus, you also get the chance to add in other segments, move things around, and insert music or sound effects during post-production.


The type of audience interaction you can incorporate differs between radio shows and podcasts. Since radio shows tend to be broadcast live, you can easily feature live audience call-ins or requests, and shape your content to what your listeners say. Meanwhile, podcast audience interaction has to be a bit more ‘asynchronous’ by nature (unless you do a live recording session).


It’s far easier to track audience numbers, interaction, and engagement exactly on podcasts than it is on radio shows. Radio broadcasts tend to rely on listener estimates. This is most important when it comes to advertising because this means radio ads need to be more general and appeal to a wider audience.

Learn more: Podcast Analytics: Why, How & What To Measure


FM radio shows are typically limited by geographic reach - though this isn’t a problem for online radio channels. By contrast, podcasts are essentially unlimited in their international scope since they’re available for download over the internet. It’s also important to point out that the large majority of podcasts target a niche audience, whereas radio shows tend to have a broader listenership.


Radio shows can have a much longer running time than most podcasts. This also means that radio presenters and hosts need to accommodate listeners who might be tuning in mid-way through by repeating key information. Podcast shows tend to be under or just around an hour long. Our research found that 55% of podcasts are over 30 minutes long, but only 4.6% exceed 60 minutes.

Topics covered

Generally speaking, podcasts give creators far more scope and creative freedom to dive deep into niche topics. Comparatively, radio shows tend to be more general in order to appeal to a wider audience.


Podcast creators can very easily incorporate video into their creation process. Creating video podcasts means podcasters can publish their content on platforms such as YouTube, or share them on socials like Instagram and TikTok. Meanwhile, radio is limited to audio-only format.

Legal Requirements

When it comes to broadcasting on the radio, creators need to be wary of legal restrictions or regulations. In the US, podcasts are not subject to the same kind of legal oversight. However, both radio shows and podcasts need to be aware of licensing requirements, especially when it comes to music.

Evergreen content

Podcasts are evergreen content. Listeners can go back again and again to enjoy listening (or watching) your podcast whenever they want. Live radio shows are only available at the time they broadcast. This is also an important distinction in terms of monetization. You can technically continue to generate income from podcast episodes you released at the beginning of your series using dynamic advertising, for example.

Branded content

You don’t see that many branded or ‘business’ radio shows, whereas these are everywhere in the podcasting world. If you’re a business that’s trying to establish itself as an expert in your field, then podcasting is a great medium to add to your output.

Will podcasts replace radio in the future?

There’s no hard and fast answer to this one. It’s very difficult to say absolutely that podcasts will replace radio. One thing is certain, though, neither are going anywhere any time soon. And podcasts are definitely taking up space in a market that radio previously monopolized. In fact, a lot of radio shows have diversified their output to offer both a live broadcast and a podcast version.

What to choose: Podcasts or Radio

It’s easy to see why some creators get caught up choosing between podcasts and radio shows. Let’s take a look at both of their pros and cons:

Podcast Pros:

  • International reach. You can reach a large audience with global podcast listening platforms.
  • Evergreen content. Your content is available at all times and listeners can continue to enjoy while you can keep monetizing
  • Creative freedom. You have the creative license to really make your podcast your own. You can also hone in on a very specific niche with the knowledge that you’ll reach like-minded listeners.
  • Flexibility. You can incorporate the ‘live’ element of radio shows by livestreaming your podcast recording session. But equally, you benefit from the ability to re-record or edit out any mistakes.
  • On-demand. From your listeners’ perspective, podcasts give them the freedom to listen when they want to instead of having to follow a set schedule.
  • Branding and monetization. There are huge opportunities for creating branded/business content through a podcast. In addition, there are multiple ways that you can monetize a podcast compared to radio shows.

Podcast Cons:

  • Post-production - this isn’t always a disadvantage, but compared to live broadcasts, you need to allocate time for editing and producing your podcast show.
  • Asynchronous audience interaction. Unless you do a live recording session, your options for audience interaction are limited to ‘asynchronous’ shoutouts or Q&As, for example. ;

Radio Pros:

  • Live audience interaction that engages with what your listeners directly
  • Easy to change and adapt your content according to what your listeners say or if you want to comment on breaking news, for example.

Radio Cons:

  • Radio shows are subject to more legal regulation. This means you need to be on top of your legal liability and make sure you’re doing everything by the book.
  • Live broadcasts are the norm which means there are no do-overs and you only catch audiences that tune in at the right time
  • Harder to track your audience numbers and provide solid analytics to your advertisers

FAQS on Podcast vs Radio

Are podcasts the same as listening to a radio?

From the listeners point of view, listening to a podcast or radio show are fairly comparable. A key difference is that podcasts are available on-demand, whereas listeners have to tune in at a set time to radio shows. Additionally, as we mentioned earlier, there’s scope for live audience interaction on radio shows.

What is the difference between broadcasting and podcasting?

Podcasting generally refers to pre-recording audio (and sometimes video) content before editing and distributing it via internet platforms. Broadcasting is the live transmission of content (audio or video) to an audience that is listening at that exact moment.

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