Station leader calls for more coordinated podcast strategy with NPR

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April Simpson/Current

Paul Maassen, GM of WWNO in New Orleans, believes that it’s critical for NPR and member stations to coordinate their podcast strategies as competition in the medium grows. 

Maassen gave his plea for such an approach Friday during the public comment portion of an NPR board meeting. More coordination between NPR and stations would make the most of their talents “and create podcasts that will ensure that public radio is a leader in this field, continues to be a leader in this field,” he said. 

NPR and stations are working in a “siloed environment” on podcasts despite “fierce” competition in the space, he said. 

“It seems to me like we can get a lot more done if we work together on this and figure that out,” Maassen said. “And that’s from a content point of view, but also from a revenue point of view. And so I think there’s a huge opportunity here. Let’s not squander that.”

NPR CEO John Lansing told Maassen that a coordinated podcast strategy is “on our roadmap.”

Next year, Lansing said, NPR will prioritize unifying “as best as we can the system around podcasting, to every point you made, to create scalable leverage for marketing podcasts both local and national, and also to take a look at how we can create through the NPR network another way for people to contribute money to the system that can flow back to stations in terms of membership revenue. So that’s the number one thing we’re working on right now.”

Revenue from podcasts will flow to stations through Apple and Spotify subscriptions, which Lansing pointed to in his opening remarks for the meeting. 

The subscription model “will create a new revenue stream for NPR and member stations while uniting public radio over the success of NPR podcasting,” Lansing said. “With this new effort, we aim to grow station membership from new digital listeners, increasing the health of public radio overall.”

He also pointed to a collaborative podcast between NPR and stations that has already seen success. The Pulitzer Prize–winning No Compromise, which came out of NPR’s StoryLab, was hosted by station reporters Chris Haxel from KCUR in Kansas City, Mo., and Lisa Hagen from WABE in Atlanta.

One thought on “Station leader calls for more coordinated podcast strategy with NPR

  1. Hasn’t NPR always worked in a silo? As a listener and former annual supporter of NPR, it seems like this has been the case for as long as I can recall. I realized years ago that the so called progressive media has been the most insular over the years and especially when it came to DE&I issues. Station staffing, national syndicated shows, music programming and overall content has woefully left out BIPOC people in any meaningful way. I rarely listen to NPR, b/c it simply does not accurately reflect the many and diverse voices of our country, or my inclusion values.

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