The Pub #19: Podcast advertising ethics; Ira Glass clarifies ‘capitalism’ remark; Membership Video on Demand; What young public media people want

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Podcast advertising skeptic Conor Gillies (left) talks with podcast advertising evangelist Ira Glass backstage at Monday's WBUR Gala. (Photo: Naomi Westwater Weekes, WBUR)

Podcast advertising skeptic Conor Gillies, left, talks with podcast advertising evangelist Ira Glass backstage at Monday’s WBUR Gala. (Photo: Naomi Westwater Weekes, WBUR)

Radio Open Source producer Conor Gillies has major misgivings about public radio’s recent experimentation with advertising on podcasts, where the FCC cannot restrict pubcasters to tame underwriting announcements. He detailed these concerns in an excellent and widely shared piece last week for The Awl, “Podcasts and the Selling of Public Radio.”

I would argue that, in practice, underwriting copy crossed the line into a kind of promotional advertising a long time ago, but Gillies sees native ads in podcasts as being a big new step, one that he’s not sure public radio should have taken.

“NPR and these major NPR stations are throwing parties for advertisers, and they’re going out in the street and holding the mic up to people and making them recite lines for MailChimp,” Gillies told me on The Pub.

“These ads are produced by public radio people, and they’re essentially performing a service for private business, which as I understand it has never happened before,” he said.

On this week’s episode of The Pub, Gillies and I debate whether podcast ads are a bridge too far, or a bridge that public radio crossed a long time ago. Also on the show:

  • This American Life host Ira Glass responds to the response to his remarks about capitalism, and I respond to the response to the response
  • Is PBS’s plan to offer on-demand video to donors a violation of everything public media stands for?
  • WSKG’s Teresa Peltier and KLRU’s Sara Robertson discuss what young professionals are looking for in a public media workplace

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Adam Ragusea hosts Current’s weekly podcast The Pub and is a journalist in residence and visiting assistant professor at Mercer University’s Center for Collaborative Journalism.

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