“When it comes to podcasts, unless someone refers you to one, finding an outstanding podcast is like being blindfolded behind your computer.” I couldn’t agree more with this observation from GOVCON Podcasts.

In fact, the podcast landscape is even more diverse and more crowded than it was when I first wrote about federal government and government contractor podcasts about a year ago. This MusicOomph infographic confirms there are over one million active podcasts and more than 30 million episodes in over 100 different languages. Podcasts have only increased in popularity over the past year, with 37 percent of Americans listening to podcasts at least monthly – an increase of 5 percent.

Educated Professionals are Listening

There are many reasons that podcasts are popular in the government and GovCon world. One is that they have wide appeal. Data from MusicOomph reveals:

  • All age groups are tuning in, with more younger people listening than their older counterparts. The 25–34-year-old demographic has the most listeners (28 percent), followed by the 35–44-year-olds (21 percent), followed by 18–24-year-olds (18 percent).
  • Podcasts are reaching educated professionals: Podcast listeners are more likely to have a college degree and a higher income than non-listeners.
  • Listeners stick with it: 80 percent of people listen to all, or nearly all, of their podcasts.

Choice of Formats

Podcast hosting platform, Buzzsprout, reminds us that podcasts are still a relatively young media channel. One million sounds like a lot of podcasts, until we remember that there are over 500 million blogs and 31 million YouTube channels.

If you’re creating your own podcast – or looking for your next listen – consider the variety of format options (graphic from Buzzsprout):

  • Monologue: for expert, solo podcasters
  • Multi-host: two (or more) hosts conducting an “on air” conversation
  • Interview: Guided interview with a range of experts, by a skilled facilitator
  • Round Table: Longer-form group conversation on one or more topics
  • Narrative: Storytelling
  • Documentary: The story – plus “behind the scenes” insights

Quality Matters

As podcasts mature, listeners are becoming more discerning in their tastes. Like other thought leadership platforms, the podcasts that have staying power are NOT sales pitches. This is especially true for government and GovCon podcasts, where the audience is interested in the trends, activities and innovators in the government market.

Here are a few best practices for business podcasts, from the Forbes Agency Council:

  • Define The ‘Why’ Of the Podcast. Why would someone listen? What value does it bring? Also ask yourself, “Is this a place for listeners to gather perspective, or is it a place for more tactical, actionable insights?”
  • Pilot Your Idea: Don’t jump into producing your own podcast without first sharing your perspective as a guest on other existing podcasts. It will provide you the opportunity to test your ideas, make the content relevant and practice your audio delivery.
  • Don’t Do It Alone. While it’s possible to do it yourself, it will be hard to meet the quality standard of podcasts done professionally.
  • Keep Your Podcasts Brief. Plan your podcasts for going no longer than 20-30 minutes. Then, monitor how much value you are delivering per minute.

I would add two more:

  • Offer Practical Advice: Share stories that bring theories and best practices to life. The more practical tools you can provide to listeners, the faster they’ll come back for more.
  • Show Your Personality and Expertise: Remember that you’re talking to real people (even if they’re not talking back right now). Be conversational, consultative and engaging as you share your expertise.

My Top 50 GovCon Podcasts List for 2021

My team and I recently took another look at the federal government and government contractor podcasts. Not surprisingly, the GovCon industry remains actively engaged with podcasts.

Media outlets (such as Federal News Network, Fedscoop, NextGov and Washington Technology), consulting firms (Accenture, Baker Tilly, Crowell & Moring LLP, Lockheed Martin and more), government and DoD associations (AUSA and Coalition for Government Procurement) and industry thought leaders (including Mark Amtower, Robert Shea and Francis Rose) all have something to share.

We updated our list from last year, removing a couple of podcasts that have stopped airing, updating the names of others and adding a new wave of ear-worthy listens.

I hope you enjoy this list of my top GovCon podcasts for 2021:

  1. The Agile Advocate: Hosted by Bill Drew, The Agile Advocate is a series of thoughts or musings on the Agile movement and DevOps in particular. It was motivated by the 1951 seminal work of social philosopher Eric Hoffer, The True Believer. It’s not meant to be a manifesto, but simply a series of thoughts and reflections coming from over three decades of developing and delivering software and systems of a wide variety to an even wider variety of users and customers. Its aim is not to evangelize or convert, but to provoke and stimulate discussion.
  2. All Things GSA: Hosted by Roger Waldron of the Coalition for Government Procurement, Off the Shelf interviews federal contracting experts from inside and outside of government on the issues that matter most.
  3. All Things Small Business: All Things Small Business is the show devoted to a continuing dialog between government, industry and academia on acquisition-related issues that impact small businesses who support the critical defense industrial base.
  4. Amtower Off-Center: Hosted by nationally known speaker and consultant Mark Amtower (Managing Partner at Amtower & Company), the show highlights the good, the bad, the ugly and the just plain silly of doing business in the government market. Every week, experts join Mark for a lively discussion of current issues facing the government contractor community.
  5. Ask the CIO: Federal News Network executive editor Jason Miller talks to federal chief information officers about the latest technology trends and issues facing their agencies.
  6. Contracting Officer Podcast: Kevin Jans (president and founder of Skyway Acquisition Solutions) and Paul Schauer (vice president – portfolio operations and integration, Voyager Space Holdings) discuss the impact of scale on government contracts. Learn how contract size and scope can impact small and large businesses as well as government acquisition and program offices.
  7. Critical Update: Nextgov’s Critical Update explores the future of government technology. Each episode, they dive into how the government is using the latest tech and more importantly, you’ll hear from some of the people who are trying to make change possible.
  8. CyberCast: Hosted by GovernmentCIO Media & Research Staff, CyberCast offers a different and thoughtful perspective on the cybersecurity issues facing industry and government today.
  9. Cyberwire Daily: The daily cybersecurity news and analysis industry leaders depend on. Published each weekday, the program also includes interviews with a wide spectrum of experts from industry, academia, and research organizations.
  10. Defense & Aerospace Report: Founded and led by Vago Muradian, Defense & Aerospace Report, a daily podcast, covers the government, military and aerospace leaders, lawmakers, industry executives and analysts that shape national security and aerospace decision-making worldwide.
  11. DevCast: DevCast, hosted by John Janek and Adam D’Angelo of Dev Technology, is a show where our team members meet to discuss technology topics and the technical details of implementing IT systems for the federal government.
  12. Fastest 5 Minutes: The Podcast Government Contractors Can’t Do Without: Podcasts from the international law firm of Crowell & Moring LLP, primarily focusing on the government contracting sector.
  13. Fed Access: From how to win government jobs and contracts, to effectively managing your government career, learning about interesting federal agencies, workers and jobs, and best utilizing government services, host Derrick Dortch explores the world of the federal government and provides you the access needed to succeed.
  14. Fed Talks: A Baker Tilly Podcast: Fed Talks is a series of audio episodes featuring current topics and issues in government contracting, offering thoughtful, bite-sized insights with rotating guests from inside and outside Baker Tilly.
  15. Fed Tech Talk: Federal Tech Talk looks at the world of high technology in the federal government. Host John Gilroy of The Oakmont Group speaks the language of federal CISOs, CIOs and CTOs, and gets into the specifics for government IT systems integrators. John covers the latest government initiatives and technology news for the federal IT manager and government contractor.
  16. Federal Drive with Tom Temin: Tom Temin interviews federal executives and government contractors who provide analysis and insight on the many critical issues facing the Executive branch. The Federal Drive is found at FederalNewsNetwork.com and 1500 AM in the Washington D.C. region.
  17. Federal Publications Seminars Podcasts: Everything that is Federal Government Contracting. They inform listeners on the legal, regulatory and compliance challenges in government contracting as well as contract proposals, pricing and changes. With over 60 years of experience training thousands of government contracting industry professionals, they are the leader in learning and professional development.
  18. FedHeads: FedHeads are Robert Shea and Francis Rose, who love to talk about the arcana of government management and the people who are trying to make it better.
  19. FEDtalk: Every other Friday at 11 a.m., Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C. hosts FEDtalk on the Federal News Network. FEDtalk explores current issues of importance to federal employees and those interested in the federal sector. From federal agencies to Capitol Hill, the attorneys of Shaw Bransford & Roth P.C. bring in experts from across the federal community to bring listeners inside the issues.
  20. FedUpward: In the FedUpward podcast, federal civil servants can find inspiration, motivation and practical tips to survive the bureaucracy.
  21. Game Changers for Government: Game Changers was designed BY government contractors FOR government contractors. The focus of every episode is to give listeners a new tip, trick, or strategy that will help them find and win more contracts. Each episode features Subject Matter Experts, companies that are successfully winning contracts, or nationally recognized professional speakers and authors. The show is hosted by government experts Michael LeJeune from Federal Access and Joshua Frank from RSM Federal. Game Changers releases a new episode every other week.
  22. Gov Actually: Gov Actually, from FedScoop, explains how the federal government actually works. Hosted by Dan Tangherlini (CFO at Emerson Collective) and Danny Werfel (Managing Director and Partner of Boston Consulting Group).
  23. GovCast: Hosted by Amy Kluber, GovCast tells the personal stories of the government and industry leaders transforming the public sector, and the bits and pieces typically not covered by federal IT publications.
  24. GovConBiz: Linda Rawson is a technology entrepreneur considered an expert in the field of government contracting.
  25. GovCon DIFFERENT: Think TedTalks meets the federal space. Ideas from the outside applied to GovCon to drive change. Different perspectives, different ideas, different solutions. GovCon DIFFERENT invites the world experts to take a crack at GovCon problems to break down what they know into something you should. Insights and discoveries that breathe life and inspiration into the GovCon market.
  26. Govcon Giants Podcast: Eric Coffie is an entrepreneur and the owner/founder of GovCon Giants, Scorecontracts and Evankoff Construction. GovCon Giants is a premier education source for Government Contracting and Consulting, with tens of thousands of YouTube subscribers.
  27. GovCon Live!: A podcast from PilieroMazza, a business law firm that serves as a strategic partner to government contractors and commercial businesses across the United States.
  28. GovCon Podcast: Cherry Bekaert’s Government Contractors podcasts feature discussions on trends, compliance matters and best practices to guide you forward.
  29. Government Contractors Coffee Break: Reed Smith’s podcast series highlights developments that really matter to government contractors and procurement professionals. Rather than discuss complex legal nuances, the podcast aims to provide practical insight and tips about emerging topics of interest to businesses and others in the contracting industry.
  30. The Government Huddle: Brian Chidester’s The Government Huddle Podcast Series takes a deep dive on current trends, making bold, educated predictions about the market, learning from expert guests and discovering innovative concepts on how to respond to all of this.
  31. Government Matters Podcast: Government Matters is a multi-platform news program dedicated to providing non-partisan information and analysis to federal managers, contractors and those supporting the federal marketplace. Government Matters’ primary areas of concentration are technology, security, defense, management, industry and workforce. Francis Rose is an award-winning broadcaster, journalist, speaker, writer and host of Government Matters.
  32. The GovExec Daily Podcast: This daily podcast for federal audiences addresses the top stories for each day ahead. Host Ross Gianfortune interviews newsmakers, GovExec staff and experts for analysis of the news of the day.
  33. Growth Masters Federal: Lively discussions among thought leaders and growth-oriented government contractor CEO’s and their teams on how to survive and thrive in the federal marketplace through excellence in business development management practices. Hosted by Shirley Collier, President of Scale2Market.
  34. HealthCast: Hosted by GovernmentCIO Media & Research Staff, HealthCast brings a clinical perspective to some of the most pressing issues in health IT, including electronic health record modernization, claims processing, health care delivery, medical devices, patient privacy, data management and more. Senior clinicians, administrators, project managers and other IT professionals delve into various efforts that bridge technology and health in the federal government.
  35. Homeland Preparedness News Podcast: The publishers of Homeland Preparedness News produce a podcast featuring the latest U.S. policy news that shapes the strength of America’s homeland security, national defense and public health security posture.
  36. Innovation in Government: Learn from industry experts that enable innovation and make government more responsive and secure by advancing key technologies.
  37. Keys to Winning Podcast: Keys to Winning is a podcast that shares practical advice for government contracting professionals from industry experts. Hosted by Raymond Thibodeaux of Key Solutions Inc.
  38. The Nancy Byerly Show (formerly, Federal Contracting Made Easy) helps small businesses to optimize their business. The Nancy Byerly Show encompasses government contracting, strategic planning, business plans, financial management, and general business advice.
  39. National Defense: National Defense is a podcast on military technology and defense industry trends, from the articles of National Defense Magazine.
  40. Navigating GovCon Podcast: Navigating GovCon is a show for business owners in the government contracting space. Host Jenny Clark from Solvability talks to industry leaders about all issues facing the GovCon business world both home and OCONUS.
  41. Off the Shelf: Hosted by Roger Waldron of the Coalition for Government Procurement, Off the Shelf interviews federal contracting experts from both inside and outside of government on the issues that matter most.
  42. On DOD: Federal News Network Defense Reporter Jared Serbu speaks one-on-one and in-depth with the people responsible for managing the inner workings of the federal government’s largest department, and those who know it best.
  43. Project 38 Podcast: This podcast series explores what is driving change in the federal market and how contractors need to prepare for what the market will look like in 2038. It is hosted by Washington Technology’s Nick Wakeman and Ross Wilkers.
  44. Securiosity: Securiosity is a weekly cybersecurity podcast from Scoop News Group. Greg Otto and the CyberScoop team spend each week answering the overarching questions from the latest in security and privacy news.
  45. PodcastOne: The Business of Government Hour: The Business of Government Hour, a Federal News Network podcast, features a conversation about management with Government Executive, Michael Keegan, who is changing the way government does business.
  46. The Real Talk for Government: The Real Talk Podcast Series breaks down the latest facts or fiction in federal policies and mandates. The Real Talk features a wide range of policies and mandates that the government IT community needs to know about and understand to ensure their offerings are meeting the requirements. Brought to you by thought leaders Tom Suder, President and Founder of Advanced Technology Academic Research Center (ATARC) along with Matt Langan of L&R Communications.
  47. Small Business Success Tips: Host Neil McDonnell of the Small Business Success Club is also the president and founder of the GovCon Chamber of Commerce. Tune in as Neil interviews government and small business experts who generously offer useful tips and insights for small businesses growing as government contractors. Discover how small businesses can research opportunities, build relationships, promote their capabilities, request small business set-aside (SBSA) opportunities and secure government business contracts.
  48. What’s Working in Washington: A weekly podcast examining the relationship between entrepreneurship, innovation and policy in the Washington D.C. region. They are stories explaining why local innovation often influences the federal government, told by a wide variety of voices across demographics and industries.
  49. Williams Mullen GovCon Perspectives: A podcast dedicated to providing government contractors with key information on topics that impact the industry. Every episode is less than 15 minutes in length and provides listeners with information they need to know without taking up a significant portion of their day.
  50. WWC Global: Government Contracting: the unofficial story. Lauren Weiner and Donna Huneycutt provide straight-forward advice on the wild world of government contracting. Former military spouses, they founded their two-person firm in 2004. Today, it has over 24 remote locations and 230+ employees. New episodes post every other Wednesday.

Did your favorite GovCon podcast make the list? What are you listening to? I’d love to know!