FEEDBACK: Great work, Meril! I like your…

FEEDBACK: Great work, Meril! I like your pitch’s emphasis on simplification and understanding NPR as an ecosystem. My main sense is that commentators and strategists have often misunderstood what radio listeners want in 2015. As your pitch notes, “In 2013, NPR launched Generation Listen, a poorly-conceived, half-hearted, and ineffective effort to recruit younger listeners, involving twitter hashtag memes, cross-country roadtrip tours, listening parties, and preaching-to-the-choir online testimonials.” However, “NPR needs to be saved from its aging self, but this young group of insiders are not quite pulling it off.” I think you’re on to something here. I’d argue that successful radio isn’t going to depend on the success of its hashtags. Consider a podcast like Serial—it was so successful because it fulfilled people’s basic desire to hear a fascinating story, told orally, unadorned by social media, apps, and auxiliary elements. Many of Serial’s listeners are young social media users, but they’re not listening to the podcast as a function of social media. After Serial came out, a gushing tech-enthusiast commentator on the local CBC station tried to explain how podcasts in the future would use interactivity, VR, and other tech elements, to make their podcasts as engaging as Serial was. I remember think how deeply the commentator seemed to have misunderstood what made Serial so successful. What made it so successful other than the story? A great website, linked to the podcast in design and theme, that provided auxiliary items like documents on the case, blog posts analyzing the case, profiles of the creators, and an email list notifying readers of updates. And later on, an active third-party community on Reddit that dwarfed its Facebook & Twitter discussions many, many times over. Maybe most importantly, the social media engagement emerged independently from the podcast itself; the creators never set out to create a social-media-engaged podcast.

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