‘The Pub’ #106: How new hosts hold onto audiences while being themselves

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Rahoul Ghose/PBS, American Public Mediak

Costa and Lam

So your favorite podcast has a new host! Do you keep listening? We certainly hope so.

I’m Annie Russell, the new host of The Pub. I’m an editor at WBEZ and a stand-up comedian. As I navigate this new role, I wondered how a new host goes about taking the reins of an established program. It looks like I’m not the only one facing that particular question. Researching this episode, I found that quite a few public media programs and podcasts have experienced a changing of the guard in the past year or so.


For new hosts: How do you fill your beloved predecessor’s shoes while still honoring the longtime audience? When you inevitably make changes, will they run for the hills?

Nobody knows this challenge better than journalist Robert Costa. He’s a reporter for the Washington Post and took over as moderator last year for PBS’ weekly public affairs program Washington Week. Costa describes how he approached what could have been a tricky transition after the death of previous longtime host Gwen Ifill.

Plus, I check in with food writer and host of public radio’s The Splendid Table, Francis Lam, who made the jump from filling in occasionally to taking over the program permanently.

As The Pub’s new host, I hope to continue to have meaningful conversations with folks who work in public media — and I hope to hear from more of you. Please don’t be shy! Write in with a segment idea or a topic suggestion. What’s a question your station or newsroom is grappling with? Whose important voice have we not heard on The Pub?

Please subscribe to The Pub in iTunes or your favorite podcast app and leave us a rating and a comment! That will help boost our search results and allow people to find the show more easily.

We welcome your feedback on the show: You can reach me on Twitter; Current’s digital editor, Mike Janssen, is at mike@current.org; and you can contact Current generally at news@current.org or on Twitter.

If you’d like to offer a comment to be used in the program, please send on-mic tape (recorded in a studio, with a kit, a smartphone, anything) to mike@current.org either as an attachment or through Google Drive. Please keep it short!

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