USA Today Network picks up winner of WNYC podcast contest

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A podcast incubated within public media will debut as an offering from the USA Today Network next year, the company announced Tuesday.

The investigative podcast, The City, will tell one story each season from a different U.S. city. It was created by Robin Amer, who received production assistance from WNYC in New York City to develop a pilot of the show after it won the station’s Podcast Accelerator contest in 2015. But WNYC decided not to greenlight the pilot.

Alissa Pagels


Amer told Current’s The Pub podcast last year that WNYC “praised the reporting, they praised the work that went into it, they praised me and what they described as the uniqueness of my voice. They also expressed concern to me about how resource-intensive it would be to turn this thing into a full series.”

USA Today Network gave Amer a one-year contract to work full-time on the first season and to pilot second and third seasons, she told Current in an email.

Amer said she believes USA Today Network is “a better fit for this show” because of its network of local newspapers. “Gannett has journalists all around the country, which will make reporting and producing subsequent seasons much easier than it otherwise would be,” she said.

“The network has already committed tremendous resources to the show and its production, and has really supported my vision and creative voice for the show,” she added. “So I’m really thrilled to be working with them, and feel lucky to have landed here.”

USA Today Network consists of the combined local and national newspaper and digital brands of the Gannett company. In a press release, USA Today Network said each season of The City will be a “vehicle to examine each city’s power structure, revealing how our communities really work behind the scenes.”

The first season will focus on a story in Chicago, where Amer lives and will work out of a Gannett office. The locations for the next two seasons have not been announced but will be cities where Gannett has local newspapers, Amer said.

A former host and producer at WBEZ in Chicago, Amer most recently worked as deputy news editor at the Chicago Reader.

“This addition combines our award-winning investigative journalism with exciting tune-in entertainment,” said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, chief transformation officer at Gannett/USA Today Network, in the release. “And, The City is a great fit for our line-up as it will elevate those compelling stories from our local communities to our national platform, greatly amplifying their reach.”

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