Would You Date a Podcast Bro?

T’Azane Roberson, a student at California State University, Northridge, was approaching one year of on-again, off-again dating with a co-worker when she came to a realization she would eventually announce to her followers on Twitter: “My biggest mistake in life so far was dating a man with a podcast.”

Ms. Roberson, 24, began seeing him in December 2021. He was 35 at the time and had dreams of being a social media influencer, she recalled. They both worked at an Amazon warehouse near her home in Lancaster, Calif. The “situationship,” as she aptly called it, was “very embarrassing,” but she continued to date him until January of this year.

“I knew he had a podcast, but I had never listened to it,” she said. “I was like, OK, I like this man. I’m already ignoring his social media presence. I’m just going to forget he has a podcast.”

Things were fine when they were together, so long as Ms. Roberson didn’t think about his extracurriculars. Until one day he sent her a link to his show, inviting her to listen and share her thoughts. What she heard turned her off.

For Ms. Roberson, it wasn’t just the content of the man’s podcast, but that he had one at all. Like many other women, she associates the form with a certain kind of man: one who is endlessly fascinated by his own opinions, loves the sound of his own voice and isn’t the least bit shy about offering unsolicited opinions on masculinity, sexuality and women. Many women have taken to social media to mock just that kind of programming and the men who make it.

On TikTok, hashtags like #menwithpodcasts gather videos of (mostly) women using a beard filter to satirize the sorts of things male podcast hosts say, such as: “Why, as a man, are you born in the month of February?” or “That’s the problem with women who read.” Others have called on them to “put down the mics” and “get a job!”

With the once-booming podcast industry currently on the back foot and hosts’ reputations for self-important mansplaining having long since caught up with them, is the “podcast bro” officially a persona non grata in today’s dating landscape?

In interviews with a handful of men who work or have worked in podcasting, some said they had come across romantic prospects who view their profession as a potential red flag. And even among those who haven’t, some pre-emptively adjust their presentation of themselves to make a clear distinction.

Tyree Rush, a 29-year-old podcast producer in Atlanta, said he makes it a point not to list his profession on his dating-app profiles. Instead, he usually says he works in digital media.

“I was on a date in Chicago and I said that I said that I do digital strategy at first,” he recalled in an interview. “So she kept pressing and I was like, ‘Actually, I produce podcasts.’ Now, maybe it’s because I lied and said I did digital strategy first that she was not into it, but I also just think when she heard podcast, it was a cause of concern for her.”

Mr. Rush added that she followed with, “don’t tell me you’re like doing like a Joe Budden podcast or anything like that.”

Scrutiny of the podcast bro archetype has also appeared in other areas of pop culture. In the Netflix comedy “You People,” Ezra, a white broker played by Jonah Hill, reveals to his date that his dream job is to do his hip-hop culture podcast full time, which is first met with laughter, followed quickly by judgment and concern.

Mr. Rush, who has worked for Marvel, iHeartMedia and the podcast network Wondery, said he understood the wariness, given the many things women have to be afraid of when it comes to dating men; a podcast is just another thing to worry about.

“It’s like a new chivalry or etiquette that we’re trying to figure out,” he said.

Logan Mendoza, 23, is one of four hosts of SweeTalks, a video podcast on YouTube. He said they often get direct messages from men who enjoy their content, which he described as mostly “guy talk” and debate. He said he didn’t consider SweeTalks to be like some of the more offensive shows.

“At the end of the day, you want to entertain the listeners and the viewers, so to do that you’re going to have to say some crazy stuff,” said Mr. Mendoza, who lives in Orange County, Calif. “Sometimes we’ll say stuff, but we don’t really fall in line with it. Sometimes we’ll disagree on a topic just to have that argument with each other on the podcast and have different point of views.”

Raymond Pang, a 31-year-old podcast producer and sound designer who works mostly on science shows, said he had never personally experienced romantic rejection because of his profession. In fact, he said, it was often a point of entry into conversation.

About a month ago he started seeing someone seriously, but while he was single, he presented himself as an audio producer. As someone who has also worked in public radio, he felt the audio label encompassed both jobs. “I feel like I have been able to position myself away from the terrible-man corner of podcasting,” he said in an interview.

Mr. Pang said he didn’t know of many people who work in audio who would call themselves “podcasters,” though, given the unappealing idea that “anybody can be a podcaster.”

“It could mean that you work at This American Life or it could mean that you record a podcast with a bunch of your friends to talk about the latest week of football games or something like that, or worse — like, misogynistic stuff,” he said.

For her part, Ms. Roberson, the Cal State student, said that after her experience she would never again date a man in podcasts: “Absolutely not.”

Third Wheel explores the delights and horrors of sex, dating and relationships. Send your thoughts, stories and tips to [email protected].

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