What’s in My Buds? With David Brancaccio

On the lastest edition of What’s in My Buds? we chat with David Brancaccio. David Brancaccio is a master of the industry: he is the former host of NOW on PBS, and current host and senior editor of American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report, where he runs two related podcasts per morning.  He also hosts the Esquire Classic podcast from Esquire Magazine and PRX (check it out if you haven’t listened yet!). Find out what David is listening to now:

David Brancaccio in studio
David Brancaccio in studio

What show do you wake up or fall asleep to?
You want to hear my guilty pleasure?  I mean, besides those sleep podcasts that bore you into unconsciousness (not by accident; the ones specifically designed to bore you to sleep). For something energizing, riveting and informative, often charmingly so, I listen to a podcast from the BBC’s domestic service, Radio Four. It is a great podcast that does obituaries, mostly British obituaries. Last Word is a series of profiles of fascinating people whom we lost over the previous week. These are people who had fascinating lives, often previously unknown to me. A punk poet; A Taliban leader; a British physicist who was expert on the electromagnetic properties of nuclear isotopes.  Plus the podcast has a great title: “Last Word“.

What show do you rave to your friends about?
Besides my Esquire Classic podcast—which I ceremoniously stream into a big Bluetooth speaker in the kitchen while we are cooking, so there is no escape—my favorite podcasts are those produced by my buddies. They include Brendan and Rico on Dinner Party DownloadActuality with Marketplace’s Sabri Ben-Achour, and Codebreaker with Marketplace’s Ben Johnson.

David Brancaccio
David Brancaccio

If you were to start your own podcast, what would the subject be?
Last Word inspires a podcast I would like to host someday:  How about an obituary show about people who are just fine and very much alive?  We could could borrow from Monty Python and call my podcast “I’m not Dead!”. Readers of this blog are welcome to suggest a more respectful title.

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape?
I must tell you the word “podcasting” will go away. Subscribing to a series of podcasts, in the way one subscribes to a magazine, will go away. But on-demand audio will not go away. Audio storytelling, both factual and fictional, is woven into our DNA. We’ve been doing it since we lived in caves. The future version of “podcasts” will all be available at the flick of a finger or an iris-scanned flick of the eye. Audio had a great advantage: it can be absorbed as we do something else, cooking dinner, driving our not-quite-autonomous vehicles. For both audio creators and listeners, I believe, it will be a lush future.

 

What’s in My Buds? With Catherine from The Moth

This month, we chatted with Catherine Burns, longtime artistic director of The Moth. As one of the lead directors on the Moth’s MainStage for more than a decade, Catherine has helped hundreds of people craft their stories, including a Nobel Laureate, a retired New York City cop, a jaguar tracker and an exonerated prisoner. Along with Jay Allison she is the producer of The Moth Radio Hour, and the editor of the international best seller The Moth: 50 True Stories. Here’s what she’s listening to now.

CatherineBurns
Catherine

What show do you wake up to?
On my best days, I start with a very early morning workout. My constant companion is the radio show/podcast On Being, which is hosted by the ethereal Krista Tippett. In 2010 I became a parent for the first time. Those first months are a precious time in your life, but also completely exhausting and kind of isolating. But then one morning, Krista’s voice came over my public radio station (WNYC), and I was mesmerized.

The show features interviews with physicists, novelists, musicians, you name it-–all discussing the “Big Questions”. Why are we alive? How do we live into our questions and create a life for ourselves that is in tune with our deepest values? This was just what I needed. On the longest nights when I was up with my beloved infant son, barely staying awake and hanging on, I knew that if I could just make it until Krista’s voice came on the air, everything would be okay. I subscribed to the podcast and haven’t missed an episode since.  

 

What show do you fall asleep to?
I adore The Memory Palace podcast. I tend to listen to it at night when I’m getting ready for bed, trying to wind down from my day, because the host, Nate DiMeo, has a very soothing voice. Each episode takes you into a specific time in the past, as if you are a person living in that time. 
 

I first got hooked on an episode about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge. I grew up in Alabama, but have lived in New York City for nearly two decades, and I’m obsessed with stories about the city’s past. I knew a lot about the building of this iconic bridge, and honestly didn’t think there was much more I could learn. I was wrong. 

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Catherine and her son

Nate pulled me into the perils and challenges of that construction site in a completely fresh way. You feel like you are there, deep under the water, digging through the muck. More recent episodes cover a show lion named Leo, and what it was like to be a homesteader in the late 1800s (me and my now six-year-old son listened to that last one together as we’re currently reading all the Little House on the Prairie books, and are fascinated with that time period.)

What is your favorite listening environment?
I do much of my listening while commuting by foot and train. Like most of our artistic staff, I listen to 2-3 hours of audio a week, screening stories from The Moth’s 500+ annual live storytelling shows to determine what we’re going to put on The Moth Radio Hour and podcast. I have a 15-minute walk to the subway, and then a half hour ride to get to our office. I love listening on the go because I figure most of our fans also listen to The Moth in this way, so if I have trouble following a story while crossing the street or transferring trains, then so will they. We sometimes call this “the laundry test”: Can you fold laundry and follow this story? It’s important because few people listen to a podcast while sitting, staring at a blank wall with fancy headphones.

What’s a podcast that doesn’t currently exist that you think should?
Hands down–one hosted by Sharon Salzberg. She’s one of the greatest meditation teachers alive. She is so wise and funny (I’ve heard people refer to her as a “sit down comic” ). She has this way of humanizing meditation and Buddism, and making it easy to understand and put into practice. She’s one of the greatest storytellers alive (we’re working on getting her on The Moth stage.) She’s also a columnist for On Being’s website. Maybe they’ll do a spin-off with her!
*Editor’s note: it turns out, Sharon does have a podcast! Take a listen here

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape?
What I love about podcasting is that you can create a beautiful piece of audio that appeals to a very specific group of people, and give them access to that audio in an easy way. It’s so different from the 1970’s and 80’s when I grew up, where, if a TV show didn’t have millions of viewers, it was considered a failure. Nowadays, you can create art for a niche audience. You don’t need Games of Thrones or even Serial-level numbers to find an audience and be a success. I hope that we’ll continue to see more podcasts that take on micro-cultures and explore them in an original way.

We’re living in this magical time where many people have unprecedented on-demand access to media. I find a lot of inspiration in the author Seth Godin (another person who should have his own podcast!). He talks about making a product that you love, and going out and finding every single person in the world who would want it, and getting it to them. It’s the opposite of the Mad Men-era thinking, where they would first create a product and then try to convince everyone they had to have it IMMEDIATELY. It’s about finding the people who genuinely want what you are creating.
Moth Radio Podcast Logo

At The Moth, we take our podcast subscribers very seriously. Our broadcast numbers are much higher, but those 650,000+ podcast listeners? They are our core audience. They are the people who have signed up to get every new story we put out, sent directly to them. They are the backbone and the heart of our organization.

 

For more stories, subscribe to The Moth podcast in iTunes here.

What’s in My Buds? With Chris from TuneIn

On this month’s edition of “What’s in My Buds?”, we chat with Chris Peterson, Content Partnership Manager at TuneIn. Chris has a long, successful career in the audio space. He told us:

My love for radio started early, as it did with many in our industry. I was the kid calling into radio stations and annoying the DJs until I got on air, and the kid who argued about which station was the best. I started my career working at Premiere Networks with numerous talk shows and sports programming: Elvis Duran and the Morning Show, The Glenn Beck Program, Bobby Bones and more. I moved to the digital side of content with the launch of TheBlaze Radio Network, which quickly became one of the most-listened-to networks in the country. Later, having worked in multiple formats in terrestrial and digital, live and on-demand, I found myself wanting to combine all of that experience; TuneIn was just about the only place to do that. Now I’m helping content creators, from podcasters to live radio hosts, tell their stories, and maximizing their exposure to our 60 million active monthly users.

Here’s what Chris is listening to now.

What is your go-to podcast and why?
Can I pick more than one? My “must listen on the day they come out” are: WTF CP headshotwith Marc Maron, The Nerdist, and The Bill Simmons Podcast. Bill Burr, 99% InvisibleIAMRAPAPORT and StartUp are also in heavy rotation.

What is your favorite listening environment? 
I get the majority of my podcast listening done while commuting on BART into San Francisco each day, which is about the only thing that helps me cope with the overcrowding and delays. I also enjoy stacking up a playlist of podcasts for long flights, they really help the time fly by much quicker than staring at SkyMall for hours on end.
 
What show do you rave to your friends about? 
Mike Rowe started a new podcast recently called The Way I Heard It with Mike Roweand I’ve been telling everyone about it. It’s a really quick five-minute podcast that tells stories in the style of the legendary Paul Harvey. For high consumption podcast listeners, and newbies alike, I think this is a strong candidate to add into your rotation.
 
If you’re not listening to a podcast, what do you put on to listen to? Everything from Howard Stern to a punk playlist. I’ve also been really getting more into jazz lately… trying to class it up a bit. We just got an Amazon Echo, which makes my eclectic tastes really easy to satisfy by just saying “Alexa, play ____ on TuneIn” while I’m cooking dinner or doing a project around the house. Also, with my wife and I expecting our first baby any day now, I have tried to have some kind of music on in the background during the last nine months, so there is always something on in our house.
 
What do you think makes a great podcast host?
It’s the same as it is with a terrestrial host: be genuine with your audience. Even though I’ve never met Chris Hardwick or Marc Maron (yet), I feel like I know them through the hundreds of interviews I’ve heard them conduct. They aren’t doing anything other than being themselves during their podcasts and doing their best to really get to know their subject in the time they have. Same thing goes for great radio interviewers like Elvis Duran and Howard Stern—they aren’t just trying to force an answer to get a headline like so many people do these days. They take their time with a guest, make them feel comfortable and have an honest conversation.
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Podcasts on TuneIn

What can the podcast medium achieve that other media forms, like broadcast, cannot?
There are no barriers in podcasting, which make it one of the most open and available ways for anyone in the world to create content; which is pretty awesome. Anyone with a smartphone or computer can record their story, opinion, or whatever idea they have, and make it available for the world to hear by distributing it (for free) on platforms like TuneIn. Pretty amazing.

How do you think podcasts will continue emerge and grow?
I see more and more terrestrial radio companies/stations looking at podcasting as a way to build new audience and, possibly more importantly, new talent. Because of that, I believe they’ll start looking at current podcast creators for content as well. If I were programming a terrestrial station, why wouldn’t I consider bringing in content from a team like All Things Comedyor a radio show with the creators of Criminal? It’s great content and I think both sides would greatly benefit from using each other a little more.

For further listening, check out Radiotopia podcasts on TuneIn, the team’s Editors Picks for Radiotopia, or other PRX shows in TuneIn.

What’s in My Buds? With Christina from Spotify

In this month’s edition of “What’s in My Buds?” we chat with Christina Choi from Spotify. Christina is a partnership manager on Spotify’s content team, and focuses on podcasts and videos. (Spotify recently added podcasts to the music mix and made them available to both free and premium mobile users on iOS & Android in the US, UK, Sweden, and Germany).

Christina is a musician at heart and always had her eye on a music-related job before joining Spotify. She’s particularly excited to share podcasts with Spotify users. Read on to learn about the ones that have her hooked.

What is your go-to podcast and why?

This is hard! I have a couple of go-to podcasts that I listen to regularly, but if I had to choose one, it has to be Political Gabfest. I can listen to Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz dissect issues for hours. I’m so glad they’re around IMG_1147during this nutty election cycle.

What show do you wake up to?

I still use an old radio alarm clock and the dial’s always set to WNYC. I love waking up to Soterios Johnson and the NPR Morning Edition crew.

What is your favorite listening environment?

My morning commute on the subway or my bike. I download the latest episodes on my Spotify (shameless plug) and I listen on the go. I have a pretty expressive face, so depending on the podcast, I’m either laughing hysterically or crying. It’s quite a show for my fellow passengers and bike commuters.

What show do you rave to your friends about?

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Using Spotify to listen to podcasts

I’m a huge fan of The Moth and always recommend it to podcast newbies. Dinner Party Download is also fantastic. It’s such an amazing concoction of all aspects of culture. They have great guests and feature awesome music and movies. I also just discovered How Did This Get Made and I’ve been talking about it non-stop. It’s so funny. If you’re a Nicholas Cage fan (who isn’t??), I highly recommend the Face-Off and Con-Air episodes. 

If you were to start your own podcast what would the subject be?

I’d love to host a podcast about K-pop. I’ve been listening to Korean music since I was young, and it’s been amazing to see how it’s evolved into this global phenomenon.

I’d love to give a meaty, in-depth analysis on all things K-pop.

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape?

I think the podcasting industry is at an interesting phase. There are a lot of streaming services like Spotify and Google Play jumping on the podcatching bandwagon, so I’m curious to see how competition changes the landscape. I hope it helps grow the overall podcast listener-base as opposed to cannibalizing from other services.

What’s in My Buds? With Vanessa Ishii from Stitcher

Welcome to the February edition of “What’s in My Buds?”. This month we talked with Vanessa Ishii from Stitcher. Vanessa serves as content editor and partner manager there, where she gets to listen to incredible stories all day long. But the listening doesn’t stop when she leaves the office—she can be found listening to content in the car, in her kitchen, and in public, laughing or tearing up to her favorite podcasts. Her favorite part of her job is working with content creators, learning about their storytelling process, and connecting their work with the right audience.
From Vanessa: “For what it’s worth: I keep catching myself asking new people I meet what podcasts they listen to, assuming everyone listens as much as I do. Not everyone does. But they should, and I tell them that.”

Check out some of her favorite shows below.

What is your go-to podcast and why?vanessa
Initially, I thought my go-to podcast was either The Worst Idea of All Time or Earwolf’s Ronna & Beverly but according to my Stitcher listening stats (screengrabs attached), it looks like I lean most heavily on My Brother, My Brother, and Me from Maximum Fun. This is probably my go-to because their show is a blend of what I expect from a podcast: it’s published on a regular schedule, it makes me laugh, it’s informative at times, and the McElroy brothers do a splendid job of making me feel included, like I’m part of their tribe.

What show do you wake up to?
I wake up to a personalized feed of news updates from sources like the AP, NPR, FOX, APM’s Marketplace, PRI’s The World, CBC and so on.

What show do you fall asleep to?
I enjoy falling asleep to the archives of Nerdist Industries’ Thrilling Adventure Hour or The Dead Authors Podcast. Both of which are sunsetting production of new content, unfortunately.

What is your favorite listening environment? My car. Otherwise I catch myself surfing my phone or computer and have to rewind 30 seconds to hear something I missed.

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Check out your own listens stats Stitcher.com

What show do you rave to your friends about?
Superego; it was my gateway podcast. Once I finished binge-listening to their available episodes, I discovered Ronna & Beverly, which led to Comedy Bang Bang, and now I can’t stop adding to my Favorites playlist. I just saw Superego perform live for the first time at SF Sketchfest this year. Why do I rave about Superego? I listen to a variety of hard news, politics, science, and tech content all day for work. So I look forward to high-quality comic relief when I’m listening purely for pleasure.

Who is your favorite podcast personality?
Paul F. Tompkins, hands down. Best interviewer with the best guests, best interviewee, best improviser, best impersonator, with a breadth of knowledge that never ceases to entertain. Basically, he’s King of Podcasts.

How do you envision the future of the podcasting industry?
I imagine that film studios, TV networks, perhaps even record labels will begin to pump out supplemental podcasts for viewers to consume as an audio equivalent to the “second screen” experience. Right now, there’s a lot of fan recap, fan fiction, even punishment podcasts (Worst Idea of All Time), but not a lot of the original content producers are investing resources into their own “official” podcasts. The argument can be made that their wheelhouse is video not audio, but they all have websites, Twitter accounts, etc. Why not podcasts, too?

What’s in My Buds? Featuring Craig Newmark from craigslist

Craig Newmark is the founder of craigslist. He is a self-described nerd, web pioneer, speaker, philanthropist, and advocate of technology for the public good. Craig has had an illustrious career, but it’s not widely known that he’s also a longtime podcast enthusiast, and a Radiotopia lover. When we dropped him an email, Craig told us, “I love the written word, and hearing it performed across areas that fascinate me. That includes storytelling, history, and comedy. With podcasts, I get to enjoy whenever I like.”

Photo credit: Bleacher+Everard

We talked to Craig about some of his favorites.

What is your go-to podcast and why?
That’d be a combination of WTF with Marc Maron, Judge John Hodgman, and Welcome to Nightvale. That included The Thrilling Adventure Hour [now sunsetted]; I miss it a lot.

All very smart, funny, and articulate.

What show do you fall asleep to?
Most often it’s WTF; it depends on what’s newly available, and my mood.

What show do you wake up to?
I might complete what I had been listening to while sleeping, but then I go to either NPR One, or the local streams from KQED, WNYC, or WAMU, depending on where I am.

What is your favorite listening environment?
In bed, or walking to work.

What show do you rave to your friends about?
WTF, Welcome to Nightvale, The History of English, The History of Rome, The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Those are what come up in conversation.

How would you describe a podcast to a six-year-old?
It’s people talking, like radio, whenever you feel like listening. (Not sure if six-year-olds know what radio is).

Who is your favorite podcast personality?
A combination of Cecil Baldwin, Marc Maron, John Hodgman, Mike Duncan.

Some of Craig’s favorites

If you were to start your own podcast what would the subject be?
Maybe what being a 1950’s, old-school nerd is about, but that subject is limited.

What is a podcast that doesn’t currently exist that you think should?
I need something that I enjoyed as much as The Thrilling Adventure Hour or The Bugle.

If you’re not listening to a podcast, what do you put on to listen to?
Mostly NPR One, or the local streams from KQED, WNYC, or WAMU, depending on where I am.

 

 

 

 

What’s in My Buds? Featuring PRX’s Josh Swartz

We’re kicking off a new blog series this week called What’s in My Buds?  The series will profile different members of the audio community, and allow them to tell, in their own words, what podcasts and shows they love to listen to. Our hope is to help our readers to get to know these people on a more personal level, and, of course, to get new show recommendations. Follow the series on social using the hashtag #PRXInMyBuds.
Our first entry comes from Josh Swartz, the PRX Remix curator right here at PRX.

From Josh:

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I listen to a lot of audio each week. In fact, it’s quite literally my job. So I want to take a moment to invite you into my headphones and share some of what I’ve been hearing. Here’s my day*, wavelength by wavelength:

My alarm goes off at 7:20 a.m. to the sweet, silvery tones of Roman Mars’ voice – thanks, Radiotopia Ringtones! Then I jump on the train at 8:15. I’ve never been a morning person and I’m not a coffee drinker so by this point I need a pick-me-up. Cue Errthang, a variety show helmed by everything-man Al Letson. Poet, playright, comic book writer, former host of State of the Re:Union and current host of Reveal, Letson is an accomplished storyteller with a magnetic personality and Errthang is a perfect vehicle to showcase his talents. The show balances casual, lively conversation with highly-produced stories —a recommended substitute for caffeine.

Once I settle into the office I peruse the new stories posted to the PRX website. Two series have stood out recently: Scene On Radio and Cargoland.

Scene On Radio comes from John Biewen and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. It promises to feature past student work in combination with new stories, with an emphasis on active tape or “capturing the sounds of life happening,” as the description reads, in lieu of studio recording. The first handful of episodes are part of a sub-series called Contested, which aims to look at the world through sports. But these aren’t “sports stories,” per se. Or, at least, that’s not all they are. Biewen takes a wide tack and places the institution of sports as the object of inquiry, exploring the effect sports have on identity, community, and society. My favorite is Episode 2: Friends and Basketball, about the extent to which camaraderie on a girl’s high school basketball team transcends race and class status. Listen through to the end —it’s worth it.

Cargoland is a radio and podcast miniseries from Lu Olkowski and KCRW’s Independent Producer Project about the changes facing the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Olkowski does a masterful job providing a glimpse into the world of the thousands of workers whose lives revolve around cargo shipping containers. Believe me, this is not an area I knew anything about prior to listening; I was not aware that shipyards were used for any purposes other than Hollywood’s favorite backdrop for extravagant dance-offs, nefarious activity, or third-act fight scenes. But Cargoland made me care about this world and these people and I hope you give it a shot. Episode 4: The Pirate instantly became one of my favorite audio stories of all time. I’ll leave it at that.

It’s 3 p.m. and there’s a lull. I’ve listened to a lot of audio so far and my ears and brain are tired. I need a break from the stuff that requires energy to focus and absorb information. Enter The World According to Sound. I think of this show as the weird baby cousin once removed of Everything Sounds. Each episode is a 90-second story about sound like you’ve never heard: a French flatulent artist, a language made entirely of whistles or, my personal favorite, an Italian pop song sung entirely in gibberish English. They’re short, they’re fun, and they’re filled with super bizarre noises. A much appreciated break from the heavy stuff. It’s after 5 p.m. and I head home. I’m walking and in need of something with a beat to propel me forward. But I don’t turn straight to music. Instead I hit play on Out Of The Blocks, a collaboration between electronic musician Wendel Patrick and radio producer Aaron Henkin for WYPR. The idea is to profile one Baltimore city block at a time. Patrick’s original compositions weave together individual stories from each block to produce a rhythmic, surprisingly moving, thoroughly engaging result.

I walk through my front door and settle in for the night. But I don’t ditch my headphones just yet. All the sounds of the day swirl around my head as I flip the mental switch from curator to producer. I get to work on my own podcast, Bandwagon, a show profiling the followers of a different cultural phenomenon each season. I’m currently producing a slew of episodes featuring stories from the Bernie Sanders Campaign. The latest is about an ex-marine leading a contingent of veteran support for the campaign. Also…a kazoo band.

So there you have it – a snippet of what’s playing inside my headphones these days. But there’s lots more! For further recommendations email me at josh.swartz@prx.org or just tune in to PRX Remix, a never-ending storytelling channel featuring all the shows mentioned above and many, many similarly great ones.

*This day is based on true events