• It’s Thursday, which means that fans of Serial are getting their weekly dose of podcast crack. The This American Life spinoff, which digs into the details of a 1999 Baltimore murder case, has spawned a bevy of equally obsessive commentary, including a podcast about the podcast from Slate. But the vortex of meta-analysis doesn’t end there — an English professor has started a weekly video chat with Rabia Chaudry, the lawyer who brought the murder case to the attention of Serial’s Sarah Koenig (and who is also blogging about Serial). “I am interested in exploring how new media engagement affects narrative and knowledge, and Serial presented an fertile ground in which to ask those questions,” writes Pete Rorabaugh. There’s also the Serial subreddit, which as a listener I am studiously avoiding lest I fall into a wormhole from which I cannot return. Plus, I haven’t listened to today’s episode yet.
A mobile tipping point came earlier this year. For the first time, mobile devices accounted for 55 percent of Internet usage, according to January data from comScore, while laptops and desktops accounted for 45 percent of usage. The proportion of Americans who read email on their mobile devices has also crossed the halfway point, with a 2013 Pew Research Center survey finding that 52 percent of cellphone owners used their devices to send or receive email. For development professionals planning email appeals for year-end fundraising campaigns, these technology shifts will support or undercut the effectiveness of your efforts. Most donors who open your messages will read them on smartphones and tablets.
• The Public Media Platform is showing more signs of life. A blog post last week on PMP’s site describes how American Public Media has been testing the platform’s features with its regional stations, uploading content into the PMP for stations to pull. But APM’s content partners, including Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida, each use a different content management system, so APM built a centralized data hub called “The Barn” to funnel content through before it reaches the PMP. • Garrison Keillor talked to the New York Times Book Review about his literary adventures, favorite authors and the worst thing about running his own bookstore, Common Good Books. (He doesn’t get a 10 percent discount.)
• The Princeton Review is out with its annual Most Popular College Radio Stations list, notes Radio Survivor.
NPR’s long-awaited mobile app NPR One launched yesterday, allowing iPhone and Android users to tune into a stream of curated and algorithm-powered newscasts, segments, podcasts and local content. After a brief introduction from NPR host Guy Raz, NPR One prompts users to log in using Google, Facebook or NPR accounts. The app allows users to choose a local station, search for stories and programs and donate via voice-activated prompts. NPR is delaying a marketing push for the app until the fall, after station pledge drives, but eager users are already downloading NPR One and giving it a test run. At Nieman Lab, news analyst Ken Doctor discussed NPR’s aim to appeal to younger audiences and the risk NPR One might pose to stations.
New digital offerings from NPR and PBS aim to give public media additional platforms for building online audiences while gaining insights into how listeners and viewers interact with digital content. These digital initiatives — PBS’s Membership Video on Demand service and NPR’s long-awaited NPR One app — were demonstrated and discussed during the Public Media Development & Marketing Conference in Denver July 9-12. The frequent name-changes for NPR’s mobile app during its development — it has been variously referred to as “Project Carbon,” “Infinite Player” and “MPX” — prompted laughter among PMDMC attendees when recounted by Zach Brand, NPR’s v.p. of digital media. But the roulette wheel has stopped, and the name NPR One is now locked in. The app, which will be released in a soft launch later this month, uses an algorithm and user feedback to create an audio stream fusing NPR content with newscasts and segments provided by stations.