PodScanning: Podcasters take to the big screen

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Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 9.56.55 AM 7-28In our PodScanning column, we look at the latest podcasts and podcasting news in public media. Send tips to tyler@current.org.

Podcasters will convene on stage in New York City Tuesday for a live event to be simulcast in theaters across the U.S.

Cast Party will feature stories and performances from hosts of WNYC’s Radiolab, NPR’s Invisibilia, Radiotopia’s The Truth and Gimlet Media’s Reply All. The two-and-a-half–hour event will also feature actress Lauren Lapkus, a brass quartet and a dance team.

Organizers say they’re staging the event to celebrate “the emergence of podcasting as a powerhouse medium with millions of obsessed fans.” Possibly going out on a limb, they are also calling it the “Lollapalooza of podcasts.”

More than 500 theaters in the U.S., Canada and Australia are screening the event, according to the New York Times. It will also show in Canada Thursday, and Australians can catch it Aug. 22.

New podcast spotlight: The Beginning of the End

WDET in Detroit rolled out its first podcast, The Beginning of the End, late last month.

Alex Trajano, production director at WDET, hosts the podcast, which features stories about “when, how, and why things end,” Trajano said in the first episode.

“Like the end of a dream or the end of an era,” he added. “I’m really interested in the conversations we have with that little voice in our heads, you know, the one that keeps us up at night, the one that keeps us distracted and deep in thought as we try to figure out what the next move is.”

Episodes have included stories about a husband’s dark secrets, a couple contemplating the end of their relationship, and a man interviewing his dad about his grandfather’s last days.

Episodes are 15–20 minutes long and come out every other Wednesday.

More podcasting news

  • This American Life is convening an “audio hackathon” in September, bringing together developers, coders, designers, producers and sound designers to come up with better technology “to access, share and discover great stories and great moments within stories.”
  • Alex Blumberg, founder of Gimlet Media, says the podcast network’s newest show, Awesome Boring, “is where they take things that you think are boring, and they actually reveal them to be awesome,” he said. Former NPR reporter Adam Davidson hosts the show with Adam McKay, who co-wrote Anchorman and Talladega Nights and co-founded Funny or Die. Blumberg said McKay is the first host on any of Gimlet’s shows who has worked largely outside of public media. “And I think it will be more and more true that our hosts will not come from public radio,” he said. In the interview with Nieman Lab, Blumberg also discussed Gimlet’s new membership model and commented on Ira Glass’s decision to go independent.
  • The New York Times delved into native advertising in podcasting. “The reliance on native ads has worked so far,” the article said. “. . . Gimlet says it is breaking even . . . National Public Radio says its revenue from podcasting has tripled since 2013.” The Times also said that PRX projects sponsorship revenue will grow “ninefold from 2013 to 2015.” And in a Facebook post, producer Jay Allison expanded on comments he made in the Times article: “I’m not so much worried about podcasters ‘tricking’ listeners, but do worry about producers considering advertisers as their priority.”
  • The E.W. Scripps Company bought the five-year-old podcast company Midroll Media, which creates shows and sells ads for podcasts.
  • An argument why Apple’s Beats 1 should “ditch the algorithms completely, and turn to public media and podcasting for talent.”