Public Radio’s Talent Drain Isn’t About Money


PodMov Daily: Thursday, January 6

Episode 563: Your Thursday Podthoughts

Public Radio’s Talent Drain Isn’t About Money

“Public radio is bleeding talent,” says Jenna Weiss-Berman, co-founder of Pineapple Street Studios. “Ive talked to a lot of the people leaving (and left myself), and the reason is (almost) never because of the money offered by for-profit companies. It’s because they want creative freedom, respect, and to feel appreciated.”

Veteran podcast creator and strategist Eric Nuzum agrees. His latest newsletter focuses on the departure of acclaimed journalist Audie Cornish, who will be stepping down from All Things Considered and leaving NPR after 17 years. Tomorrow is her last day on the air. Two other high-profile hosts and people of color, Noel King and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, left the network in the last four months.

Public radio is a national treasure with enormous power in the podcasting space, Nuzum says. But the voices that have marked its “generational change” will continue to jump ship without a sea change in creative vision. Commercial audio may offer more cash, but the opportunity it presents is a stronger incentive.

Why People Think Podcasting is Easy Cash

Misleading podcast advice is everywhere, it’s upbeat, it’s sneaky — and sometimes worth a look. In a post called “How Much Money Do Podcasters Make?” a personal finance site implies that 1,000 listens per episode can net a hardworking podcaster $745 per month, with $495 coming from “course sales.”

The source of these claims is a heavily paraphrased Castos article about how much podcasters can make. The model assumes that “0.05% of your audience buys an online course per month for $99.” For 50 listeners a month to sign up based on your podcasting prowess, that course needs to involve literal magic.

More good news from the post: Sponsors “will start to contact you once you’ve gained some notoriety.” Unfortunately, newcomers will find this and other ‘fact checked’ material when they consider podcasting for money. Recognizing ridiculous claims means you’ve reached the other side of an obstacle.

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The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.

Here's what else is going on:

  • Ticket booth: This year’s Hot Docs Podcast Festival is on virtually from January 25-28. The lineup includes Ira Glass, Dan Taberski (9/12), Saidu Tejan-Thomas and Bethel Habte (Resistance), and Back Issue’s first-ever live episode. Use code PODMOVEHD for 20% off early bird and regular passes.
  • Steady hand: Podcasters whose shows pull in at least $50,000 annually are 15.8 times likelier than lower earners to have published over 200 episodes. Improve Podcast reports this and other findings from a survey of 1,076 creators. The results support a familiar recipe of patience and dedication.
  • Sonic youth: Podcast listeners under 13 are an “invisible audience” due to a (justified) lack of data, writes Tumble Media CEO Lindsay Patterson. Also the host of a children’s science podcast and founder of a related nonprofit, Patterson outlines the shift from indie-powered niche to mature ecosystem.
  • Very online: Nearly 40 percent of listeners said they wanted podcasts from YouTubers and influencers when recently surveyed by Acast and Nielsen. An Acast executive tells The Hollywood Reporter that he expects “smart content creators” to “pick up microphones and test the waters” this year.

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