The podcasts I listen to are intentionally hand-selected over time to be 1) informative, 2) have a decent content:fluff ratio, and 3) enjoyable. I unsubscribed from Star Talk because about 90% of it was non-scientific chatter or ads, even though it was enjoyable and informative (sometimes). If a podcast doesn't cut to the damn chase like NDT's, that's an instant unsub from me.
In particular, I find independent podcasts like Sam Harris or Dan Carlin to be FANTASTIC, and that content is free for all to download in multiple ways. So, I'm not worried in the slightest.
One of it's show is "Reply All" is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. They used to host a podcast called "TLDR" on NPR (WNYC).
These guys are all super talented and deserve to be paid very well for the content they produce, but to say those shows and podcasters you like won't go to where there money is probably not 100%.
This. Dan Carlin is fantastic and I enjoy supporting him because of the quality. No Agenda and Congressional Dish are two more listener supported/value-for-value podcasts which do an outstanding job. No Agenda, in particular, raised the bar extremely high for production value, and they do it all live to tape! No back office. Little-to-no post production. Those guys are proof you don’t need a studio, enployees, or advertisers to make a living out of podcasting.
Edit: removed "ad-free" as a descriptor of Carlin's shows, since I recall him having Audible ads.
I stopped listening to them a while back after they had a hard right turn IIRC. Their business model was excellent though.