‘The Pub’ #89: Former NPR tech reporter Steve Henn on his new app, 60 dB

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Henn

When normal people quit their jobs in dramatic fashion, they flip tables, spit in the soup and storm out the door. Public radio people write earnest Medium posts.

That’s what Steve Henn did a year ago when he quit his job covering Silicon Valley for NPR; he wrote about his concern that public radio “may not get its act together to make the jump into the digital age,” adding, “I want to help.”

If Henn is right, help has arrived in the form of 60 dB, the app he’s created with his partners — two former Netflix guys. It resembles NPR One, in that it serves up a curated stream of spoken audio in response to user preferences and behavior, but it differs most significantly in that it focuses on short-form pieces.

60 dB also draws from a much wider pool of content, some of which sounds decidedly un-pubradio.

“I think there’s an appetite for intelligent conversations and reporting on a variety of topics that don’t just appeal to the core NPR audience,” Henn tells me on this week’s episode of The Pub.

Also on the show, I offer a review of what I think are the three best new services for recording high-quality audio interviews over the internet. None of them is, by itself, the answer we’ve all been waiting for. But ipDTL, Zencastr and Ringr each have their uses.

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We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me at adam@current.org or @aragusea on Twitter; my supervising producer at Current, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or @currentpubmedia on Twitter.

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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.

  • Mark Pugnar

    Have you ever talked to Dave Winer, one of the inventors of podcasting? Dave is trying to use his expertise with technology to help journalists. His blog has some interesting ideas that journalists could use to spread good ideas.

  • The future of public media is the best.

  • Mark Pugnar

    As for this new app discussed. It isn’t really doing anything that hasn’t been done before. Algorithms can’t really predict what I might like. They can only lead me to things similar to what I have already liked. I don’t know if I like The Fast and the Furious, until I watch it.