San Diego’s KPBS seeks pitches for new podcasts

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KPBS is applying its approach for developing new TV shows to podcasts by asking its audience for show ideas.

The San Diego station hopes to debut one or more podcasts next spring from its open call for podcast pitches from independent producers.  After the May 15 application deadline, a committee of KPBS staffers will choose one or more projects to receive funding from a pool of $30,000. Each producer would be expected to produce at least six episodes.

KPBS hopes to fund three projects, according to the request for proposals, and at least some would continue “in some form into the future and provide opportunities for cross-platform development of the story, topic or host.”

Though podcasts can reach a wide audience, “the overall goal [of the project] is to increase local content,” said John Decker, KPBS p.d.

In 2011, KPBS launched a similar project that provided seed funding to develop two TV shows, Savor San Diego and A Growing Passion, which now air on KPBS-TV. SnapShot, Animal R&R, and the forthcoming Kings of the Craft also received funding in later solicitations for the Explore project.

For this round, KPBS is looking for  podcast proposals that fit one of three categories: “The Truman” (a serialized show), “The Cousteau” (a show that explores a subject) or “The Ken Kramer” (a host-driven show — the name of that category refers to a KPBS host). With its development backing, KPBS will co-own the podcasts with producers. For TV shows initiated through Explore, producers who created TV shows owned rights to the content.

In its request for proposals, KPBS cited several public media podcasts as inspiration, including Serial, Invisibilia, and podcasts from smaller stations. “I’m not naïve enough that there’s a Serial out there,” Decker said.

Asking for pitches cultivates talent and informs local creators that the station is interested in their ideas, Decker said. The open call has also become a source for good ideas — and the quality is improving, Decker said. “The pitches I get from independent producers . . . are much better than they used to be,” he said.

And KPBS may also be reaping benefits in fundraising. “I can’t necessarily trace dollars,” Decker said. “But I can tell you that our donors love that we’re doing local content.”

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