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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Radio is seeing crimson – The Verge

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That is Sizzling PodThe Verge’s e-newsletter about podcasting and the audio trade. Enroll here for extra.

Hey! It’s been a bit since we checked in on the information. Right now, I’ve acquired a take a look at the continued monetary troubles at NPR member stations, the shutdown of Rooster Tooth, and the brand new season of Serial.

Woes mounting at NPR member stations: “Sponsorship {dollars} gained’t return to earlier ranges.”

Two extra public radio stations are discussing how they plan to get out of the crimson: Colorado Public Radio, which is adopting the “broadcast-to-podcast” technique, and WBUR in Boston, which is interesting to listeners for donations earlier than taking any subsequent steps.

Colorado Public Radio laid off 15 members of its workers final week and closed its podcast-focused Audio Improvements Studio. Like at WNYC and NPR, CPR is specializing in information content material that may simply adapt to broadcast and digital distribution.

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Citing the identical donor and sponsorship woes confronted by the remainder of the trade, CPR CEO Stewart Vanderwilt mentioned that the cuts had been needed to place the station on higher monetary footing. In one other transfer that appears like WNYC deja vu, he mentioned that what stays of the podcasting operation will deal with native information. Skye Pillsbury additionally reviews that two producers will come on to help the newsroom.

“We’re shifting our focus to news-based podcast merchandise — and I might say on the intersection of stories and long-form storytelling,” he mentioned in an interview with Colorado Issues host Ryan Warner. “There’s a few causes for that. One, it’s the place we’ve got a really particular power. Two, we’ve got a number of the bottom materials in authentic information that we’ve produced, which may then be utilized in a podcast or on-demand kind undertaking.”

WBUR in Boston could also be on an identical path, however not earlier than CEO Margaret Low appealed to listeners to assist the station keep away from cuts. “Within the final 5 years, our annual on-air sponsorship revenue (underwriting) has dropped by greater than 40 p.c,” Low wrote in an open letter. “Sponsorship {dollars} gained’t return to earlier ranges. These should not short-term ups and downs. They’re long-term shifts.” The subsequent step, she mentioned, may very well be pay freezes and layoffs.

It’s a stark message that (hopefully) drums up some {dollars} from devoted listeners. However such contributions gained’t tackle the primary level she makes: the challenges confronted by the audio trade should not all that distinct from what is going on to media on a broader scale. As a substitute of pointing to a skittish advert trade, she sees the issue as extra systemic.

“The {old} economics of our enterprise can not maintain us,” she wrote. “Within the digital age, virtually all that cash now goes to the large platforms — like Fb, Google, Amazon and Spotify. That is dangerous information for the information enterprise and has created large gaps that may’t simply be stuffed.”

For-profit media corporations have struggled to adapt to the brand new panorama, and public shops are much more restricted in how they will make up that income. I don’t have solutions, however in case you have ideas on this, be at liberty to succeed in out. 

And, as ever, help your native public radio station! You can be as cool as me with my Brian Lehrer hat.

Rooster Tooth shuts down, podcast community up on the market

It’s one other digital media shutdown, this time by the hands of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Along with shelving motion pictures to save lots of on advertising and marketing prices, the corporate beneath his management has been promoting off property at a tempo. Rooster Tooth is subsequent on the listing of properties to close down, with the one part left standing (for now) being the podcast community.

Final week, Rooster Tooth basic supervisor Jordan Levin emailed workers notifying them of the closure. “It’s with a heavy coronary heart I announce that Rooster Tooth is shutting down on account of challenges dealing with digital media ensuing from basic shifts in shopper conduct and monetization throughout platforms, promoting, and patronage,” he mentioned, in response to a memo obtained by Variety. “The Roost Podcast Community will proceed working and fulfilling its obligations whereas WBD evaluates exterior curiosity in buying this rising asset.” About 150 workers had been laid off.

Rooster Tooth first made a reputation for itself within the early aughts as a pre-YouTube hub for internet collection like Pink vs. Blue. However its podcasts, together with H3 Podcast and Rooster Tooth Podcast, have confirmed to be a much bigger draw in recent times. There isn’t any information but relating to a doable acquisition of the podcast community.

A brand new season of Serial is coming this month

Some information out of On Air Fest final week: Serial is returning on March twenty eighth. Ten years after the hit podcast debuted, Serial will deal with the historical past of Guantanamo.

Serial host Sarah Koenig mentioned at an OAF panel that she and her fellow producers have been engaged on the way to inform this story for a decade. “Dana [Chivvis] and I attempted for years to determine the way to make a narrative that captures what it’s actually like there for the folks caught inside this huge, flawed experiment — not simply the prisoners, but additionally the workers who constructed it and ran it. For therefore lengthy, all the most effective tales we heard had been off the file. However now individuals are prepared to speak,” she mentioned.

Serial, which was developed as a derivative of This American Life, was bought to The New York Instances in 2020. Since its blockbuster debut, the present has revealed seasons telling the tales of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, a soldier who was held captive by the Taliban after which charged with desertion, and of the peculiar occasions at a courthouse in Cleveland.

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