Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Communication Studies and University Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Lee Shaker

Abstract

This study is a deductive thematic analysis of podcast hosts’ attributes that explores how parasocial relationships (PSR) might be cultivated with listeners. I analyze five episodes of one podcast, Stuff You Should Know and use its transcriptions to code for themes of identification, conversation practices, and authenticity to suggest ways PSR is developed by the podcast’s hosts.

Results found host behaviors suggest how listeners may react to them. The combination of the effect of social deixis while describing personal characteristics suggest listeners may feel physically and emotionally closer to the hosts. Listeners may also see them as more trustworthy because the hosts care for listeners’ wellbeing. Lastly, when hosts respond to the parasocial conversation, listeners may feel their effort to the PSR is reciprocated. In all, this study suggests that podcast hosts’ behaviors contribute to listeners’ PSR.

There are now ways to personalize our viewing and listening experiences to cater to our interests. Because of this, relationships with media figures may become stronger than ever. If this is the case, we must continue to research the links between media, media technology, and media consumers, in order to adapt to this new media landscape. Podcasts are especially applicable to these circumstances.

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