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Last year, Australian psychology graduate Jemma Sbeg had a straightforward idea for a podcast: apply the psychological concepts she had learned to the common issues faced by people in their 20s. Sbeg, 22, signed up for Anchor, Spotify’s DIY podcast creation and distribution tool, and started recording in the back of her Subaru Forester. Covering topics like jealousy, climate anxiety, and attraction, she accrued about 15,000 downloads in her first 10 months. Not bad for an Anchor podcast but nothing to write home about.

Then, a switch flipped — in April, she published an episode on loneliness that took off. She…

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