Podcasts: These days it seems like everyone either has one or listens to them. They range in topics from talking about good movies, bad movies, politics all the way to good old fashioned absurd humor. But why? Why, all of a sudden, are podcasts such a huge part of our entertainment culture? Why do people make them? What makes them stand out? Why do people listen to them?

To answer these questions I interviewed Robert Evans, former Cracked.com Editorial Manager and host of the podcast “Behind The Bastards” that sheds, “new, weird, light on history’s monsters.”

“Podcast growth hasn’t been linear,” Evans said. “It burst into being, then languished for years, and in the last two years it really exploded.” Evans thinks that ad revenue for internet content websites like Cracked.com and Buzzfeed has been drying up due to conglomerates like Facebook and Youtube.

“The easiest way to make money is through ads around,” Evans said. However, he said, podcasts are simply, “the next bubble,” which can burst at any time.

Evans does not believe that podcasts are adding anything particularly new to fields such as journalism to make them stand out, but rather said podcasts are popular among journalists now because, “it allows journalists to do what they’ve always been doing, but in a more engrossing way.” He continued to say, “Take a case like Adnan Syed, the New York Times could have written an 1,000 word article on it, and it wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact as Serial did. When your listening to someone every week, it is much more compelling.”

I know thats why I listen to podcasts. The people who make podcasts are so compelling that they become my friends. Not literally, in fact none of them know I am even a person who exists. But nonetheless, after years and years of listening to podcasts, having them in my ear once or twice a week, over and over, one begins to feel a sense of familiarity with the hosts of their favorite shows.

About a year ago this came back to bite me when I saw a live recording of one of my favorite podcasts, Paul F. Tompkins’ ‘Spontaneanation.’ After every live show is a meet and greet, for which I was very excited. Yet when it came to my turn to meet on of my favorite comedians I froze up. I could hardly get my name out. I realized, in that one moment, that my friendship with Tompkins was entirely one sided.

I looked at him and saw someone I knew, that could always make me laugh and cheer me up if I was sad, but he looked at me and I could feel that he had no clue who I was, and why would he? This should have been something that I should have just been able to shrug off, and adapted, but the beauty of podcasts is that it does connect with its audience on such a personal level that one is able to live vicariously through the lives of complete strangers.