Each week in Buzz, we’ll give you a roundup of our favorite podcast reads from around the internet.
October 27, 2015: Mark Bergen of Recode, “Google Brings Podcasting to Play Music, Swinging at Apple’s Dominance”
But of course Google is making a Google Play for podcasts, right? Right now, people can upload their podcasts to Google Play Music, and according to Recode, streaming allows Google to actually suggest shows based on a listener’s habits. Here’s what you need to know: suggestions will mirror the Google Play Music recommendations for listeners based on “‘what they’re doing, how they’re feeling, or what’re interest in (WP).’” More details to follow in the coming months.
October 21, 2015: Susan Burton of The New York Times Magazine, “Terry Gross and the Art of Opening Up”
Terry Gross tends to stay out of her interviews, which only makes fans of her work more intrigued about who she is. As Burton quoted her in this wonderfully sprawling profile, her listeners create her; she’ll be whatever they want her to be. For Gross, the art of interviewing has less to do with gotcha moments and much more about forging genuine connections and having real moments with people. Like an effective therapist, Gross lends a sense of safety and compassion to the conversations that disarm her subjects, bringing out the very secrets she’s careful not to pry into. And somehow her interviews transcend the excitement of being asked to give an interview with Terry Gross–i.e. the fact that it will be broadcast to millions of listeners–and the very experience of the interviews become their own reward. A chance for Terry Gross to hold a mirror up–to validate you, to care about you, to connect with you.
October 30, 2015: Matt Bonesteel of The Washington Post, “ESPN shuts down Grantland, effective immediately”
Ever since Bill Simmons was unceremoniously fired from ESPN, the writing has been on the wall that Grantland was not long for this world. Last month four editors announced they were leaving the online magazine to follow Simmons to his next project. Top flight talent like Wesley Morris flew off to take a job at The New York Times Magazine. Dan Fierman departed for MTV. There is a lot to say about the death of this outstanding site that celebrated long-form sports and pop culture writing (and a lot has been said here, here, here, and here), but how it affects podcast listeners is simple–and maybe not that crushing: there will be no more Grantland podcasts, like Hollywood Prospectus. There are plenty of “talky” podcasts where smart people gather around and say smart people things (we’re looking at you, Slate), but there was something really joyful about the smart discussion on Grantland‘s podcasts. I’m not at all embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t wait to hear Andy Greenwald’s take on the latest Game of Thrones or hear Chris Ryan break-down the final season of Mad Men. The podcasting world will go on without their under-promoted roster of shows (and it’s worth noting that Brian Koppelman’s The Moment moved over to Panoply a few months before Grantland was shuttered–a move he’s probably feeling pretty good about), but it’s a loss for fine online writing–and one we can hardly stomach just months after The Dissolve shut off the lights.
October 28, 2015: Brendan Fitzgerald of Columbia Journalism Review, “Serial, Mystery Show, and why listeners want to be in on the investigation”
Thank you for your service, Brendan Fitzgerald. We here at The Timbre don’t really consider Serial and Mystery Show of the same genre—and so, perhaps, not the most fruitful vehicles of comparison—but then you went and said this, you little devil, you: “[Mystery Show] uses journalism to show how mysteries work; [Serial] uses a mystery to show how journalism works.” Bravo! Brilliant! At first blush, the criticism is repetitive confirmation that the two shows are, in fact, as always suspected, apples and oranges. But then a bouquet of beautifully trimmed quotes from Ms. Starlee Kine and insightful commentary on podcasts blossoms into the finish. Dare we say that perhaps Mr. Fitzgerald buried the lede?
October 23, 2015: Marie Rossiter of The Denver Channel, “iPod turns 14: a look back at its impact”
Isn’t it bizzaro that podcasts were named for the iPod and nobody ever talks about the connection? Maybe it’s not so strange, as this piece took that connection on as its thesis and doesn’t get very far. It starts with an uber-brief history of the product itself and lands with the irony of National iPod Day, on October 23rd, celebrating a product that doesn’t really exist anymore.
October 29, 2015: K.M. Mcfarland of Wired, “Fiction Podcasts Are Trying Too Hard To Be Like Serial”
Anything that accuses podcasters of trying too hard sounds like an industry win to us, so congratulations to The Message and Limetown. Reading about people billing their shows as Serial meets the X-Files, however, sounds like people grasping at straws. And yet, what other comparisons can they make? If your show is episodic, you have no choice at the moment but to compare it to Serial. If your show is fiction, the easiest thing to do is compare it to television. This article rightly returns to the days of yesteryear, when GE (the sponsor and creator of The Message) dipped into similar entertainment territory with good ol’ Ronald Reagan as a host—it’s good to be reminded that radio has a rich history.
October 23, 2015: Jeanine Poggi of AdAge, “Coke Creates Podcast With iHeartMedia to Target Teens”
Is this just a drop in what’s going to be a big ol’ bucket? Advertisers just owning the content from start to finish? Not even an illusion that the two are separate? Is this how artists have to live in the future? it’s probably too early to say for sure. In any case, Coke is going for it as the first partner with iHeartMedia’s branded content division, with a show called First Taste Fridays, aimed at teens with a music/artist interviews slant.
New Podcasts in the News
Gimlet’s new show with Adams Davidson and McKay–Surprisingly Awesome—is on its way with a trailer for the first season just released.
Reminder: The DC Podfest is coming up on November 6-8, 2015, in Washington, D.C. If you’re a podcast fan or an aspiring podcaster, we recommend you grab your tickets for the event. As an added bonus, we will be sitting on a judging panel for Seven Minutes in Hell, a live podcasting contest. The winner will be featured on The Timbre!