York Journalism Professor Host Panel on the Future of Podcasting

By Graciano Clause

Professor Thomas Moore hosted a panel discussion on March 29 that featured radio and podcast representatives from journalism organizations.

The discussion went  in depth on journalism’s form of storytelling in longform reporting and podcasting. Oral storytelling has served as an important factor as the sole means of gathering experiences and emotions in a narrative form. Fast forward many centuries with newspapers being the primary medium of journalists since the 1700s, it is a natural to question if the podcasting will be sustained or a collection of fluke events.

Sean Carson, from WNYC New York public radio opened up the discussion explaining how far journalism has come.

“When the printing press first came out and Gutenberg made the Gutenberg bible there were people who were like, ‘this is heresy and the bible is not meant for everybody,’ or whatever and look how stupid they look now, “ said Carson. “Being resistant to change is what newspapers were for a long time that screwed them royally.”

With numerous subject areas in journalism, Carson also mentioned that it’s important to keep your mind open with the opportunities out in this field because you never know where you are going to end up in your career.

Chester Soria, who is also a representative from WNYC, said that being the jack of all trades is beneficial and specializing in one area would be a detriment to yourself.

“There’s plenty of opportunity to experiment with the medium because I’m not reporting news, but I’m able to tell certain stories that I wasn’t able to tell in a news format,” said Soria.

He mentioned that the podcasting trend is one that is on the uprise.

“The podcasting movement has sort of been around for awhile, great shows have been around for years but it really kicked off with Serial, but that really struck lighting within the community,” he said.

For example, with shows like Serial and This American Life, podasting could become the next big thing at the forefront of this trend. Serial’s first season saw 100 million downloads. This American Life is a popular public radio program aired on nearly 600 stations and one of iTunes’ most downloaded podcasts every week. WNYC currently airs six of iTunes’s 100 most popular podcasts.

“There is content on any number of podcasts that touches you, reaches you, teaches you in ways that other mediums can’t really reach these days because we’re all used to tweets, Facebook statuses,” he said. “With podcasts you have an audience that are willing to listen to your stories as long as you commit.”

John Wordock, who is the Executive Producer of Podcasts at The Wall Street Journal, sees the potential in where podcasting will be shifting to years from now.

“The connected car is one of my pet hobbies, a few years ago I spoke to Troy about the future of radio and I told the audience watch out for Apple and Google because they’re coming to eat your lunch,” said Wordock. “If you seen the new ad for the new Audi A4, you see the podcast button right on there. The podcast button is a permanent fixture, so in some ways the podcast button I predict is going to become the new AM/FM button for people who can afford to have an Android auto or Apple car play in their vehicles.”

There is a lot of momentum with General Motors trying to bring Apple carplay to the masses. You don’t have to buy a Ferrari or an Audi. You can get another brand  and still get Apple carplay. General Motors is going to pay for the wifi for the first year so you won’t have to pay for the data, Wardock mentioned.

Not only is podcasting growing in terms of content, but it is open to looking at issues in concerns to people of color and women especially in an industry dominated by Caucasian males.

“You still have the financial industry dominated by successful white males and one thing I often ask the PR folks of representing firms is I’m looking for a variety of voices and diversity,” he said.

“Can you put me in touch with women, can you put me in touch with non-anglos. I’ve been working on that because it brings diversity, because it potentially brings in more listeners,” said Kerry Donahue, executive producer of special projects at New York Public Radio WNYC.

“It feels like so many TV channels have excellent content that they’re pushing out and that’s such a revolution, and I feel like we’re having a similar one in radio where there is just so many great podcasts with good news in them and content organizations trying this,” said Donahue.

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