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As we sign off, lessons from someone who's been there

What do you do when the show you are hosting comes to an end? To find out, I talked this week with Lauren Ober, the former host of WAMU’s The Big Listen. The Washington, D.C., station announced in March that it would end “the broadcast about podcasts” after two years because it wasn’t picked up by enough stations. Ober just wrapped up the show in May. We talked about what she gained from the experience, how she’s using her newfound free time and what she’s planning next. I wanted to talk...


How states are doling out dollars for public media

Ever wonder how much your state spends on public media? Do you know how much it spends per resident? And where does that money go? Current has got you covered with a new, comprehensive guide to state funding. It tracks and explains state funding in the 36 states where broadcasters receive direct funding from the state — that means a line item on the state budget. On this episode of The Pub, I talk with Current Digital Editor Mike Janssen about some of the major trends and...


New WFAE podcast focuses on survivor of sexual assault

When Sarah Delia at WFAE in Charlotte, N.C., got the idea for what would become the new investigative podcast "She Says," she wasn’t sure what form the project would take, or even whether the person at the center of the story would be willing to participate. But as Delia followed the story of a woman she calls Linda, her reporting sent her on a deep dive to find out more about how the criminal justice systems handles sexual assault cases. Listeners will hear about Linda’s case, still...


Balancing daily news demands with the pursuit of in-depth storytelling

Podcasts are a nearly perfect vehicle for narrative storytelling. The episodic nature, the way each chapter is delivered to the listener’s personal device, the inherent intimacy of audio, advertisers’ interests in reaching a connected audience over several episodes, and the human nature for hearing and sharing stories all make the platform ideal for delivering narratives. But narratives are hard to find in news. We may call everything we file a “story,” but it’s rare that a school board...


Stations show off humor, baking skills in Public Radio Cake Week

If you work in public radio, you might just be on a sugar detox right now. And no, that’s not a comment on the stereotypically healthy diets of public media staffers. Public radio folks across the country recently took part in the 6th annual Public Radio Cake Week. The tradition started at Vermont Public Radio when several staffers’ birthdays fell around the same time in April. Rather than have one cake to celebrate, the station leaned into the sugar consumption and celebrated with a week...


How pubcasters are teaming up to address Pennsylvania's opioid crisis

If a major issue is affecting your community, chances are its impact reaches beyond your town line. That’s especially true of the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, where the drug overdose rate is more than twice the national average. Earlier this year, Gov. Tom Wolf even issued a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania’s “heroin and opioid epidemic.” Public television stations there are responding by collaborating on focused coverage of the crisis. The stations are working together to...


Classical station KMFA's musical 50th-birthday gift to itself

What are public media’s classical stations doing to innovate? For one station, the answer involves a throwback to an earlier broadcasting era. Back in the day, radio and TV stations all had jingles. But thet tradition has fallen out of fashion — few stations have their own dedicated theme. Up until last year, KMFA in Austin, Texas, didn’t either. On The Pub, KMFA Director of Broadcasting and Content Anthony McSpadden shares the story of how the station commissioned local composer Dan...


What's next for WNYC?

It was only a matter of time before public media had its own #MeToo moment. And it’s had more than one over the past six months, with hosts and senior leaders changing roles or no longer in their jobs following a range of accusations about harassment, bullying and inappropriate workplace behavior. Such allegations have a particular sting for public media’s listeners and employees. Newsrooms that hold public officials and other organizations to account for such behavior seem to be unable...


Accuracy matters more than ever — so check your facts

You’ve done your interviews, written your script and filed your story. But did you do one last fact-check? No longer just for magazines or long-form projects, some public media newsrooms have begun to apply more robust fact-checking to their daily and feature work. Our audiences expect our stories to be accurate, and on top of that, they expect our journalists to hold newsmakers to account for falsehoods that come out in interviews. But how do we balance the need for rigorous...


How new hosts hold onto audiences while being themselves

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...


Why pubmedia should double down on content for kids

Whether they’re talking to your kids or to Congress, the hosts and characters of public media children's programming are powerful. They promote understanding, inclusion and education. Plus, they’re really entertaining. But is children’s programming the future of public media? Mel Kramer and Betsy O’Donovan say it is. In a white paper for the Knight Foundation, they argue that all of public media’s public funding should be spent on content for kids. And not just shows. O’Donovan and...


Terry Gross turns the tables

Terry Gross listens to tons of podcasts — including The Pub — and her own NPR show, Fresh Air, is also one of the most popular podcasts around. And yet, she remains committed to radio, both as a host and as a listener. “I don’t want a world of just podcasts. I don’t want a world where everything is boutique-y and fragmented,” Gross told me on The Pub. “I want a world where there’s an All Things Considered and a Morning Edition — the kind of things you can only do with the kind of model...


Getting personal at Third Coast

Should a journalist take to the mic to share a personal story? The short answer: Maybe. Whether you’re a news host who wonders how much to reveal about yourself in your interview questions or an independent podcast producer hoping to mine your family history for material, you’ll want to tell your own story in a way that also serves your audience. We talk about what happens when a journalist tells a personal story with Sally Herships, the producer behind “As Many Leaves.” Produced for BBC...


Why WHYY retired its NewsWorks site

What is a public media station online? In many cases, its identity is its call letters followed by dot-org. But why? On-air, most stations are a mix of national, international and local programming. So why make the only digital home for those stories share a brand with something that many people in the market think of only as a source for NPR, BBC or PBS programming? "There's no website in the world that will solve every problem for every person," says WHYY digital product manager...


How to be the boss

You got promoted! Great. Now what? Years of journalism training haven’t necessarily prepared you for the art of managing people. You might even find yourself supervising your peers. Before you know it, you stop getting those invitations to happy hour. You are the boss. Judith Smelser and Michael Marcotte have seen this scenario and many, many others. Both are consultants and former news directors who train public media managers around the country. On this episode of The Pub, we talk about...


Why stations should help employees relocate

A radio reporter who recently accepted a new job paid for the move by launching a GoFundMe campaign — and not for the first time. Should public media be offering more help to its greener employees to avoid creating a class barrier? On this episode of The Pub, we talk to the people most affected by these decisions: the employees. Also, how you can donate to help get Puerto Rico's public media stations back on the air.


What is a talk show supposed to be online?

Digital producers on public radio talk shows have found many ways to reconcile the difference between a show that's supposed to be appointment listening and a platform that's always available. In this episode of The Pub, we look at a few of those techniques with guest host Gabe Bullard, senior digital producer for the show "1A." Some producers use digital tools — social networks (of course), Hearken, text messages — to bring listeners into the planning process and shape their shows....


Interviewing Jesse Thorn about interviewing interviewers about interviewing

Jesse Thorn is an accomplished guy — he’s the host of NPR’s Bullseye and proprietor of the Maximum Fun podcast network. And yet, he feels a little insecure about having never attended journalism school. So this summer, Thorn organized his own journalism academy of sorts and let everyone else listen in. He’s just completed the 15-episode run of his podcast miniseries The Turnaround, a show co-presented with Columbia Journalism Review in which Thorn interviews various legendary interviewers...


Lauren Ober, host of The Big Listen, a radio show about podcasts

A radio show/podcast about what’s going on in podcasting? The Big Listen from WAMU and NPR is one part “best of podcasting” compilation show, one part industry-insider talk show, and a thousand parts Lauren Ober, its charismatic and affable host. This week, on my show about other people’s shows, Ober talks about everything she’s learned from making her show about other people’s shows. (Everybody got that?) Also this week, three simple words that will help you answer most questions...


How to make kids’ podcasts and why you should

Half a century after public television made children’s programming one of its core missions, public radio is finally getting into the game with kids’ podcasts like NPR’s "Wow in the World," MPR/KPCC’s "Brains On!" and VPR’s "But Why." Lindsay Patterson, a host and advocate of kids'podcasts, says there remains an enormous amount of room in the market for new children’s shows, and she has practical tips for producers. Also on this week’s show, the inescapable reason why all opinion...