Buzz No. 15, Podcast News June 11-17, 2015

Each week in Buzz, I’ll give a roundup of my favorite podcast reads from around the internet.

June 18, 2015: President Obama to Appear on WTF with Marc Maron Next Monday

I’m talking to him tomorrow. If everything goes well, if everything goes as planned, by the end of the day tomorrow, Friday, I will have a conversation in the can with the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

This morning Maron announced on his podcast that the President will be stopping by the garage in Highland Park today to record an interview. Yes, the President. While Maron chugs along with great regular guests, it’s easy to forget what a dynasty he’s built. Until, that is, a moment like this punctuates his David Letterman-of-podcasting appeal. Remember that somewhere in D.C. a conversation was had in which a staffer convinced Obama to go on WTFIn a garage. This person reassured the President of the United States that a place normally reserved for lawnmowers and oil stains is a good spot to talk to someone. I say this only because I can’t imagine the President has time to listen to WTF and vet the show himself. If you believe this conversation took place–and I 100% do–that means that some Presidential advisors in Washington have such strong convictions about Maron that they steered the President to go on WTF. Well played, Maron. And well played, podcasting world.

June 17, 2015: Monika Scott from KCRW’s “Here Be Monsters comes to KCRW!”

For awhile now, Jeff Emtman’s Here Be Monsters has been one of KCRW’s favorite podcasts. The Independent Producer Project featured Jeff’s work via UnFictional last year, and Jeff has contributed to both installments of our 24 Hour Radio Race. Starting next week, HBM is officially joining the KCRW family. We couldn’t be more excited for its fourth season to kick-off. 

Here Be Monsters is one of our favorite podcasts. Produced by Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton, HBM joins an impressive group of podcasts, including Strangers and UnFictional, over at KCRW. If you’ve never listened to HBM, it’s almost like a trip to Shutter Island. Stylistically distinct, it’s an eerie show that can leave you uncomfortable and transfixed at the same time. It’s not horror, but it’s not boilerplate podcast documentary.

As an added bonus while discovering Here Be Monsters, check out our interview with Jeff Emtman here.

June 12, 2015: Julia Greenberg from WIRED’s “Podcasts are Saving NPR”

FOR THE FIRST time in six years, National Public Radio, better known as NPR, is on track to break even financially thanks in part to the rising popularity of podcasts.

…Revenue from podcasts is more than double this year from what it was in 2014, NPR tells WIRED.

We know that podcasts represent all growth in non-music radio. As a matter of fact, I’m getting tired of reading articles saying just that over and over. There’s something fascinating in this piece, though. Jarl Mohn, the president and CEO of NPR, tells WIRED that podcasts may represent their best growth area, but it doesn’t mean that they need to change their content for podcasting. I think that’s exactly wrong. True, NPR has a core audience they cater to. For the most part, save for podcasts like Snap Judgment or Invisibilia, it’s an old guard, traditional media listenership. And, yes, it’s smart to grow with that audience as they move to podcasting and on demand audio, but isn’t it time to a take some risks with programming? It feels like the growth in podcasting is giving people the illusion that this medium was just waiting for a delivery mechanism for its already-perfect content. I understand NPR is never going to be an arthouse, but why not take some steps away from the public radio voice? That’s one of the luxuries podcasting offers. Artistic and financial growth are not mutually exclusive.

June 17, 2015: Stuart Goldenberg from The New York Time’s “Podcasting Blossoms, but in Slow Motion”

So don’t call podcasting a bubble or a bust. Instead, it is that rarest thing in the technology industry: a slow, steady and unrelentingly persistent digital tortoise that could eventually — but who really knows? — slay the analog behemoths in its path.

Goldenberg’s piece is a state of the union on podcasting. What he’s saying–and I tend to agree with–is that podcasting is slowly taking over radio. Nothing more. Sounds like not much of a thesis? It is, actually, because he’s pumping the brakes on the runaway excitement for podcasting. He’s arguing we’re years away from a new world order of podcasting, not months. He cites the usual information on how sponsors are trying to figure out if their ads really reach the amount of people podcasters claim they do. What are downloads and what do they mean in terms of actual listens? We get great details on how Gimlet is a disruptive force in providing content. It’s a perfect snapshot of an industry poised to creep, slowly, towards prominence.

June 16, 2015: Eric Russell from the Portland Press Heralds’s “Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Maine will close its doors”

The Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, an intensive training program for writers, radio producers and photographers that has operated in Maine for 42 years, is shutting its doors in September.

Executive Director Donna Galluzzo said the decision to close was necessitated by declining enrollment and the lack of consistent funding.

Many people in radio are mourning the loss of Salt, one of the few institutions left that provided training and education for radio producers. Founded in 1973 by Pamela Wood, it was originally a school for documentary-style journalism that eventually included an emphasis in radio. Rob Rosenthal from HowSound, also the lead instructor over at the Transom Workshops, taught the radio track at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. He’ll be one of the many carrying on the legacy of a school that truly cared about the arts. It will be missed.


Author Description

Eric McQuade is co-founder of The Timbre and a former-programmer-turned-writer. He has lived in D.C., Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, Argentina, Cayman Islands, and the length of the Appalachian Trail. Right now he hangs his hat in Memphis, TN.