Radio Ga Ga: Which Podcast and Radio Shows Are The Most Distracting To Play While Driving?

Radio and podcasts are among the most popular ways people make their drives more enjoyable. The podcast industry in particular has exploded over the last few years, with millions of people listening to their favourite hosts every week.

The radio is one of the oldest forms of entertainment, but still a very popular choice for many. Studies show that whilst 32% of people like to turn on their favourite podcast when driving, 73% still prefer listening to the radio. However, whether you’re a podcast or radio fan, or a bit of both, getting too wrapped up in the host’s conversation can be dangerously distracting when behind the wheel. With every host and show having their own particular style and subject matter, it begs the question: which hosts can be considered the most distracting for drivers?

We wanted to find out, so we used literature on the psychology of voices as a basis for a scientific study to discover the most distracting radio and podcast hosts.

We analysed acoustic measures of different hosts’ voices including: the pitch of the speaker (how high or low their voice sounds), the speech rate (how fast someone is talking) and how many fillers they use (‘um’s’ and ‘ah’s). As part of the research, we also asked our study participants to provide ratings on how distracting and annoying they found each host after listening to them. These average ratings were combined with the acoustic measures to give an overall distraction percentage out of 100 and as a result, create the final league table.

From this analysis, we can now officially reveal the most distracting radio and podcast hosts – where does your favourite rank?

The World’s Most Distracting Podcast and Radio Hosts

Our research revealed that Essex-born Mark Wright tops the list of most the distracting hosts on air today, with a distraction score of 84%. Wright is currently a presenter on Heart Radio’s Saturday afternoon slot, but besides being on the radio, he has also worked as a TV presenter and pulled at the nation’s heart strings with shows like ‘Surprise Surprise’ or ‘The Gossip’. Despite being one of the UK’s favourite presenters, he scored highly on acoustic measures as well as listener ratings, who found his voice to be particularly distracting, in some cases so much so that they “didn’t register the content” of what he was discussing on the show.

Fellow Brit and UK radio royalty Chris Evans comes in second spot, with a score of 83.5%. Evans currently presents the breakfast show on Virgin Radio UK but prior to that, has worked as a presenter across multiple high-profile TV and radio shows, including being the host of the BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show, Top Gear, and The One Show, to name just a few.

Hot on Evans’ heels is American broadcaster and media personality Howard Stern, with a score of 75%. Stern is known for his self-titled radio show, ‘The Howard Stern Show’, which runs every Monday – Wednesday for approximately three hours and has been a fixture of many people’s lives since 1981!

English radio host Sonny Jay and ex Made in Chelsea star Spencer Matthews, both score a distraction rating of 72% to complete the top five. Some of the UK’s most popular personalities including James Acaster, Greg James and Rylan Clark, also ranked in the top ten, thanks to high scores on acoustic measures of pitch, speaker speed and fillers, combined with listener ratings on how distracting their voice is – hinting that certain British accents can be particularly distracting to listen to when driving.

Outside of concentration-stealing British accents, our analysis also revealed that radio hosts dominate the ranking of the top 20 most distracting hosts worldwide, with 13 out of the top 20 presenters working in the radio industry, rather than hosting their own podcast.

RankPresenterPodcast or radio showPodcast or radio?Distraction %
1Mark WrightHeart RadioRadio84.2
2Chris EvansVirgin RadioRadio83.5
3Howard SternThe Howard Stern ShowRadio75.5
4Sonny JayCapital RadioRadio71.9
5Spencer MathewsBig FishPodcast71.8
6Ryan SeacrestOn Air with Ryan SeacrestRadio71.6
7James AcasterOff MenuPodcast68.6
8Greg JamesBBC Radio 1Radio64.7
9Dr. Andrew HubermanHuberman LabPodcast64.5
10Rylan ClarkBBC Radio 2Radio63.8
11Max RushdenFootball WeeklyPodcast63.5
12Rickie Haywood-WilliamsBBC Radio 1Radio62.4
13Jeremy VineBBC Radio 2Radio60.8
14Lauren LaverneBBC Radio 6Radio58.9
15Chris StarkCapital RadioRadio58.7
16William HansonHelp I Sexted My BossPodcast58.4
17Ed GambleOff MenuPodcast58.1
18Rosie RamseyShagged Married AnnoyedPodcast57.8
19Claudia WinklemanBBC Radio 2Radio57.1
20Jo WhileyBBC Radio 2Radio56.4

Which Podcast and Radio Hosts Are Safe To Listen To While Driving?

In addition to looking at the most distracting hosts, we also wanted to take a closer look at the presenters who may be safer to listen to when behind the wheel. Tallying up with the ‘most distracting’ rankings, our research suggests that podcast hosts are generally less distracting than radio presenters, as twelve podcasters managed to secure a spot within the top 20. Maybe the more relaxed, conversational tone of a podcast, that isn’t always aiming for listener attention or participation with phone-ins and the like, makes podcasts a safe choice when driving?

Jay Shetty takes the top spot with a distraction score of just 12%, which is much lower than any other presenter. The host of ‘On Purpose with Jay Shetty’, a podcast focusing on the topic of mental health, Jay scores low on acoustic measures of pitch, speaker speed and fillers. This is also reflected in the low rating from participants in the study, making him the world’s least distracting host – a safe and easy listen by almost all accounts!

Following closely in second place is BBC Radio 1 presenter Scott Mills, with a score of 18%. A beloved host on this side of the Atlantic, he is best known for presenting ‘The Scott Mills Show’ on BBC Radio 1 from 2004 to 2022 and since then, on BBC Radio 2.

Rounding off the top three is American podcaster Mel Robbins and a low distraction score of 24%. Widely known for her viral TEDx talk, ‘How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over’, Robbinson is the host of her own podcast show called ‘The Mel Robbins Podcast’, where she tries to provide tools to empower people that are trying to create a better life for themselves.

American journalist and host of The New York Times news podcast ‘The Daily’, Michael Barbaro, follows in fourth place with an overall score of 29%, with radio and podcast host Jordan North just behind in fifth place, with a score of 30%. North is due to take over as the new host of Capital Breakfast in April 2024 after leaving BBC Radio One at the beginning of the year, and according to our results, is worth tuning in to for a focused but fun drive.

Other popular British hosts in the top ten include beloved Irish TV and radio host Graham Norton and ex-radio host and podcaster Fearne Cotton, who now presents the hugely popular wellness podcast ‘Happy Place’.

RankPresenterPodcast or radio showPodcast or radio?Distraction %
1Jay ShettyOn PurposePodcast12
2Scott MillsBBC Radio 2Radio18.4
3Mel RobbinsThe Mel Robbins PodcastPodcast24.2
4Michael BarbaroThe DailyPodcast29.2
5Jordan NorthHelp I Sexted My Boss & Capital RadioPodcast & Radio29.9
6Adam CarollaThe Adam Carolla ShowRadio30.2
7Chris MoylesThe Chris Moyles Show, Radio XRadio32.7
8Graham NortonVirgin RadioRadio33.1
9Ryan Jon DunnThe Toni and Ryan PodcastPodcast33.3
10Fearne CottonHappy PlacePodcast33.4

What does the Highway Code say about driving while listening to radio or podcasts?

While the Highway Code does not state anything specific about listening to the radio or podcasts while driving, there are some important rules that drivers must be aware of.

Under Rule 148 of the Highway Driving Code safe driving requires concentration, therefore you must avoid distractions when driving, including listening to loud music or the radio, as doing so may mask other sounds such as other cars or sirens from emergency vehicles. It also states that you should not start or adjust your audio system whilst driving, as this is also considered as a distraction.

Driving with your car stereo on too loud could land you with a £100 fine and three points on your driving license. But if the music or radio is so loud that you cannot hear potential hazards, motorists could be charged with dangerous driving as you are putting others at risk, which could then land you with a £5,000 fine and a potential driving ban, in the most serious cases. So whether you tend to simply stick on the radio, listen to the latest episode of your favourite podcasts or opt for a playlist of carefully curated bangers, it’s always essential to keep the volume low, and your focus solely on the road.

For more information on how to drive safely on the roads please visit our Car Care Hub, or if it’s actually the condition of your vehicle that is driving you to distraction, see how much you could get for scrapping your car.


We have compiled a list of 61 of the world’s most popular radio and podcast hosts, and then conducted a study in which 18 independent participants rated how annoying and distracting they found a selection of the hosts on a scale from 1 (least) to 10 (most).

Averages were calculated for each host, with the higher the score equating to a more distracting voice. Lower scores mean that speakers are perceived as less distracting to listen to.

We have then analysed the results from the study, and found that annoyance and distraction scores correlated highly, meaning that those voices that were perceived as highly annoying were also perceived as highly distracting. Because of this correlational relationship between annoyance and distractions, the two scores were combined to provide an overall distraction score.

Based on psychological literature, we have also ranked each host’s voice on a number of acoustic measures including:

●      The pitch of the speaker (how high/low their voice sounds)

●      The speech rate (how fast someone is talking)

●      How many fillers they use (e.g., “um” and “ah”)

Scores for these three acoustic measures, along with distraction scores (based on listener ratings) were combined to create an overall ‘distraction’ percentage and score out of 100. The Google Keyword Planner was used to analyse the search data for ‘podcast’ in the UK. All data is correct as of March 2024.

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