For these reasons, it's essential that the volume of a podcast should be "normalised" (i.e. the peaks should be at the maximum allowed undistorted level) and its dynamic range should be severely curtailed - that is, there should be very little difference between the quiet and the loud bits.
I probably have hearing that is just below average in efficiency and I've lost count of the number of times the podcast was so quiet that I couldn't hear most of it (even when turned up to full volume on my phone), or had a section with various speakers muttering inaudibly in the background, clearly not using a headset microphone. Even Big Finish, who you'd expect to know better, has been guilty of this. Podcast producers, please remember your audiences: if we can't hear it all, you might as well not bother.