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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...


Sarah Alvarez on how to serve low-income people

Surely one of the most effective arguments against the continued taxpayer support of public media is that public media serves a socioeconomically elite audience. What’s the point of subsidizing media for rich people who should be able to pay for what they want themselves? There are any number of initiatives in the public media system to reach low-income people who currently aren’t listening, watching or reading, but former Michigan Radio reporter Sarah Alvarez is skeptical about them. “I...


What the #$%^ does 'narrative' even mean?

Public media has an obsession lately with a certain word. As Only A Game senior producer Karen Given observes in this week’s episode of The Pub, “Just say the word ‘narrative’ and program directors and editors suddenly start paying attention. Everyone wants narrative. But what the f*** is it? I mean, we all use the word, but what does it even mean?” Raise your hand if you’ve ever had the same question. All of the hottest shows — in particular those like This American Life and Snap...


Where will all the spectrum auction money go?

The $1.9 billion that noncommercial stations won in the auction isn’t enough to transform the entire public media system, but it will absolutely transform the handful of stations lucky enough to have held valuable spectrum in crowded markets. On this episode, we’ll talk about where the money is going and where it should be going with a station CEO who won big, Current’s Dru Sefton and Oregon Public Broadcasting CEO Steve Bass, who has a strong message for stations that, unlike his, have...


Jacqui Helbert and the ethical hazards of university stations

You could not make up a better cautionary tale about the hazards of universities controlling public broadcasters than the story of Jacqui Helbert’s firing. The head PR flack for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fired Helbert last month from her reporting job at WUTC, the university’s NPR station. That a flack had the power to fire a journalist is ethically troubling all by itself. Add to that the element of state legislators who control the university’s purse strings complaining...


What would actually happen if they defunded CPB

So what would actually happen if Republicans in Washington defunded the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? On this week’s show, we try to get the most detailed picture possible of what would actually happen if the Trump administration’s stated goal of totally defunding CPB becomes a reality this year. We also consider one argument as to why the CPB should be defunded that has been articulated in recent days by an unlikely source: sitting CPB board member Howard Husock. He comes back to...


The ThinkProgress writer who said NPR is ‘favoring anti-LGBT perspectives’

Four times during the last week of February, ThinkProgress LGBT editor Zack Ford wrote, NPR “reported on LGBT issues in ways that elevate anti-LGBT positions and normalize discrimination against LGBT people.” I know some serious anti-LGBT people who would have a real belly laugh at the idea that “Nitwit Progressive Radio” is anti-queer. Nonetheless, Ford’s article struck a nerve with many public media people who read and debated it in a couple secret Facebook groups. One piece Ford...


Former NPR tech reporter Steve Henn on his new app, 60 dB

When normal people quit their jobs in dramatic fashion, they flip tables, spit in the soup and storm out the door. Public radio people write earnest Medium posts. That’s what Steve Henn did a year ago when he quit his job covering Silicon Valley for NPR; he wrote about his concern that public radio “may not get its act together to make the jump into the digital age,” adding, “I want to help.” If Henn is right, help has arrived in the form of 60 dB, the app he’s created with his partners...


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