Audio news round-up!

Hillary Clinton, #PubRadioVoice, and the podcast metrics debate


This week, we rounded up recent news from the radio and podcasting world. See what people have been writing — and podcasting — about topics like politics, diversity, and who’s listening to broadcast vs. podcast audio.

Podcasting gets into the presidential race


Earlier this year, Marc Maron proved that podcasting could go presidential when he interviewed President Barack Obama in his “Cat Ranch” (aka Maron’s garage). This week, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton shows that she, too, is hip to what the kids are listening to by joining hosts Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton on the Another Round podcast from Buzzfeed Audio.

Clinton answers pressing questions like if can we expect Kanye as a future running mate, and whether she is actually a robot. (Her candid answer may surprise you.) Will other candidates follow the lead of Clinton and Obama and take to the podcasting circuit? Only time will tell. For now, you just owe it to yourself to listen to the brilliantly-titled interview: Madam Secretary, What’s Good?

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Psst: Curious about that Twitter player Another Round shared? Pop Up Archive’s has been working with Buzzfeed and other partners to improve the shareability of audio on Twitter. Any timestamped link you tweet from an episode in will appear as a player in Twitter.

Changing the whiteness of the #PubRadioVoice: Public radio rallies around diversity

Last week, radio wunderkind Stephanie Foo (This American Life, Snap Judgment) penned a manifesto for “What To Do If Your Workplace Is Too White.” In her piece, Foo outlines what newsrooms need to do to attract — and keep — minority voices in public media. Foo’s tips, like “Hire Editors of Color” and “Create A Safe Space — Even if it Means Swallowing Your Pride,” are much needed in an industry where the makers are 77% white, and audiences are close to 90% white. Also, there are illustrative gifs.


Elsewhere, Justin Ellis of Nieman Lab chats with Tasneem Raja, digital editor for NPR’s Code Switch unit. Raja talks about the approach she’s taking with NPR’s first team exclusively covering issues of race, ethnicity and culture.

Raja makes the distinction between programming made for diverse audiences and programming made about diverse audiences: Code Switch isn’t meant to be “Race Studies 101.” Instead, Raja says, “our job is to talk to a broad audience that is not necessarily a white audience.”

Speaking of passing the mic to new voices…

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 25: From L-R, Robin Amer, Kathy Tu and Tobin Low react after winning the WNYC Podcast Accelerator for their podcast pitches at the 2015 Online News Association Conference at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on September 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Daniel Petty/for ONA)
LOS ANGELES, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: From L-R, Robin Amer, Kathy Tu and Tobin Low(Photo by Daniel Petty/for ONA)

In case you missed it, WNYC (New York Public Radio) has heard the cry for different stories on public radio: both winning teams of WNYC’s podcast accelerator contest aim to tell stories of diverse and minority populations:

“Gaydio producer/hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low described their show as “exactly what it sounds like” — a lighthearted biweekly magazine show about LGBTQ issues, with each episode based on a theme.

The City producer/host Robin Amer said her investigative series about “the conflicts that drive every city” would be divided into seasons, each consisting of a single story from an American metropolis.”

Breaking News! The New York Times reported this week that WNYC is launching a new podcast division called WNYC Studios. Dean Cappello, WNYC’s executive vice president and chief content officer, says: “This is the way we will become a much, much bigger content company, period.” The division is looking to raise $17M and developing pilot shows in partnership with Vice News, along with figures like author Roxane Gay, Jessica Williams of Comedy Central’s “Daily Show,” and comedian Sara Schaefer.

What separates terrestrial radio from podcasts?

AUDIENCE: On’s podcast The Pub, radio researcher Fred Jacobs identifies two very different age demographics that are tuning into public radio content: millennials and baby boomers. In numbers, millennial listening still trails behind the 50+ age set, though it’s steadily growing. Younger audiences are not only much more likely to listen on-demand through podcast apps, Jacobs says, but they’re also listening for different reasons—more than boomers, younger listeners turn to public radio to learn.

hubweekFORMAT: Beyond public radio, the question arises, what is the relationship between radio listening and podcast listening as a whole? At Harvard’s HUBWEEK panel, Radiotopia podcaster Benjamin Walker (Theory of Everything) went so far as to suggest that the relationship between podcasts and public radio is illusory to begin with: “In my opinion, the thread between public radio and podcasts doesn’t exist…There is something to this actual [podcast] medium itself. It’s different than radio. You can’t use the same tricks.”

METRICS: Broadcast radio and podcast listening are measured differently. On a16z Podcast’s “Podcast about Podcasts,” 99% Invisible host Roman Mars compares the metrics available for broadcast vs. podcasts. Mars argues that the real difference isn’t the quality of data, but its standardization: “I always get kind of confused by the talk of how podcasts don’t have good data. Because I worked in radio and we just sort of agreed on a lie together about what ratings meant.” Host Sonal Chokshi counters that because podcasts are digital, they offer the potential for more listening data that could offer insights to advertisers and publishers alike: “When you come from the web world…it’s very frustrating to not be able to know [how many people are listening and when people dropped off].”