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How Podcasts Are Creating The "Second Golden Age of Audio"


The popularity of podcasts is surging, as millions of listeners turn to their smartphones each day for audio content ranging from quick news to immersive storytelling. So what makes a great podcast, and how are podcasts changing traditional media and journalism? To answer those questions, we sat down with two of the most popular podcast hosts and producers, Alex Blumberg of Gimlet Media and Jacob Weisberg of Slate.

This podcast was recorded on January 31, 2018.

This podcast should not be copied, distributed, published or reproduced, in whole or in part. The information contained in this podcast is not financial research nor a product of Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research. Neither Goldman Sachs nor any of its affiliates makes any representation or warranty, as to the accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in this podcast and any liability therefore (including in respect of direct, indirect or consequential loss or damage) is expressly disclaimed. The views expressed in this podcast are not necessarily those of Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting or tax advice or recommendations in this podcast. In addition, the receipt of this podcast by any listener is not to be taken as constituting the giving of investment advice by Goldman Sachs to that listener, nor to constitute such person a client of any Goldman Sachs entity.

Copyright 2018 Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC. All rights reserved.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is excellent. just Goldman Sachs, where we discuss developments currently shaping markets, industries and the global economy, algae seaward global head of corporate communications here at the firm on today's podcast episode, we're talking about well podcast, the popularity of pod. doing as millions of listeners tuned to their smartphones every day for audio content, ranging from quick news to immersive storytelling during a recent session organised by toxic. She s a programme were leading figures come to Goldman, to share insights and ideas in a variety of topics. I sat down with two of the most popular podcast hosts and producers Alex Blumberg, gimlet media and Jacob Weisberg of slate. We talked about what makes for a great product
and how progress or changing media in journalism here is part of our conversation. Alex is the founder and Yo Gimlet media, which runs a bunch of pod. Cast him sure lot of you, ve, listen to them and take up is the host of Trump cast an arm and also overseas businesses, slate which, as in all my presence, but also oversees the habitual pod gas panoply under the panoply brand? Is it a brand it's up. It's a compact form and take you you're, the first person pronounce it correctly. Iran Evans has Panoplie monopoly, as it does in fact panoply our rights, we'll get right to it. You both made the transition from. I guess we call old media to a new, a new format, and so, when you talk a little bit about You made that transition in. Why you why it took the leap I bet I can. I can I felt like
maybe I was pushed out. I was wholly ensconced in old media. and my background as it is in public radio? I worked in this work and life in one smack and I started to show complain of money which is unimpeded, are, and so so in and produce just like sort of like saw. The growth that was happening saw the successive year what kind of money he saw the success that flayed was having with five gas and others of their independence, and I felt like we should do more of this. You know, and and because it was just hard to get any attraction there, and so after trying for many years, basically to try to figure out some way where we can do more of it within and we can create new models and maybe do sort of like me have like the creators have some part of it and
It just never worked, and so that I was like. I guess I just gotta go to my own. There was I very much like it was a very reluctant. I was a reluctant entrepreneur, two bit like the funding of political, where they tried to incubate political. within that was imposed finally gave up and started their Jacob. I guess, if you want more detail, I recommend the first season will start the I originally moved I'm on from printed one thousand, nine hundred and ninety six, my mentor and journalism with summoning Michael Kinsley and we'd work together at the New republic, and we sort of had cooked up this idea of a magazine that would have something to do with this new internet thing and we thought it would solve the problem of lead time. The between, when you finish your article and when subscribers receive the magazine,
male, and it turned out to be a little more than that. But podcasting came about there's some there's some magazines that are still trying to figure that out exactly where we started slated, had page numbers and came out once a week online we saw people would read it beginning to end the same way. They read the economist, but we had a partnership with NPR to produce a show that since gonna Thier called data day, which was meant to be a midday, oh between morning edition and all things considered, and we worked on that quite forcefully for a couple of years. It was done out of our way but to work on the show we heard some someone named Andy Bowers had been a long time and pr reporter and producer, and after a couple years they show. He said the shows getting little frustrating for various reasons, but this is new technology called podcasting and I really think we should try it and I said grade and he started the first part guess we did were just him. Reading slate articles
allowed, but that morphed into our first show, which is still on the air, which is what's now the slate political gab fast, and that was sort of original format of just three regulars talking once a week about a topic so out when you started, you know decide to go. Just all in podcasting alone, that tough decision and Emily happened, Happeneth coincide with the the ascendancy of cereal had out at all, then I'll play out was, so I was. I had a lot to do when they decided to do that. I should have had a cheerful announcement opponent, money that I was gonna go off my own and I like laid the groundwork and accessed, hung round like eight months and finally sort of like and then there's the work is making life, and I was trying sort of like raise capital, and I knew that I was gonna not have any. I had no more platform right, like I'm gonna government, on its millions to nothing and I didn't have a twitter, I didn't say I had a twitter account said open a twitter account. I had no purse.
brand whatsoever, and so the only thing I could do to think together. Attention to myself in this new venture that I want to start was too was recorded, sister, recording all these meetings with investors that I was having, and I put it together into a sort of our first Pike S, which was called start up, and we should like it started as the documentation of this study of the pot of package. Is a pike asked about the starting of a pie casting company and, and then we launched start up in September of twenty four teen and then an tumor of twenty four team. The first season of cereal came out. And so those two things together, cereal by itself sort of created, created this sort of like pod, casting wave echoes that, I think, which really may, I think, made more than anything. A sort of like set set. The bond wishing to making Pakistan Cinema Home a mainstream word had,
sighed the move, a mean, as you did start up about your startup. But how did you decide to move beyond that? And how did you decide what what what Looking for when it comes to something to fit into your family upon us, I think there's three basic idea, this three, any basic motivations for listening to a pike, s there's five more but I'll, ask outside of our three. I think one one and there are an overlapping one- is that you it's there's a real intimacy to listen to somebody in your ear and you feel like they're, your friends and like when you listen it's late political got. This is like all my God, my smart funny, friends or taking my politics. This is exactly the kind of conversation that I want to have. If those were my real friends, so you just that's you that's a big part of the appeal is second bucket is information. Pakistan is one thing that you can do while you're not doing something. Also like you can't what you can be assured under DR and listen to Pakistan. So there's this real urge to sort of multitask, and it feels you feel very productive, because
mom I drive and I'm learning a thing about part and then and then Other thing that is really good at is just pure narrative, like I think, since we acquired language, we ve been telling stories to each other there I do is talk when I talk about like sort of like what the elements have like a very, very pure elements of of narrative, and if I say you know, I walked out of my house this morning and I looked up. The sky. What did you say you re like? Is that symbol, unlike and so so that? That's that's the, I think. That's the third thing and I think, a lot of What we try to do is have at least two of those elements present like we're trying to be like that. You want this engagement host, you wanna, be either delirium story, premise or other information premise. So now they can turn into a sitcom. I understand Alex Ink is the working maybe the final time final title and the guys from Scrubbs are going to take it on. How do you know about that?
now. I feel Zack Brass Yeah I see there's someone I mean. Obviously it's very it's very exciting. Very flattering flattering. I guess it's it's just it's so surreal that it's hard to have a feeling about it. I don't I don't. We can't imagine that it's actually gonna I still don't really fully believe that is going to happen, and I dont know and and- and I dont know if it's gonna like stick around like This tv shows it started and then there's like two episodes of them and in their disappearance it like so I dont know what to prepare for. I feel like I'm preparing for something so, can be started. Trump cast in the election see for, for obvious reasons of sudden is, as they say, elections have consequences in one of the consequences is the Trump cast as lived on
how did your vision in and how did you shift gears after the election to make it a steady thing you have a bit of a joke of the show was that serve we're gonna, be here as long as we need to, and I started the shower around February or March twenty. Sixteen when tromp was briefly sort of surging and republican primaries at that level. get the nomination and then he got the nomination by that moment, gotta be doing until November and suddenly November. Based on the premise of the show, I was doing it indefinitely forever, so obviously, of proliferation in this day and age out of certainly podcasting. This becomes, or you know, that the quick form is it the talk. Radio, the laugh, but with with trumps descendants, has come the attendance of positive America, a lot of other podcast that are looking at the Trump administration a new phenomenon in it. Fox does very well
democratic administrations and this embassy tend to do well in republican ministrations. But how do you think about the landscape? The your operating in some of them are very, very, very much just nonstop trump bashing from start to finish its not what I'm trying to do. It's not with interesting to me, but I do shows like that. Like pod, save America can work well, there is a way in which it is the talk radio of the of the left. This a crucial difference than I don't know if you would agree to this Alex, but there's no hate in the world. The podcast expect it's because it's an opt in medium people, don't hate. Listen, they don't stay involved with that they disagree with in some fundamental way unless they feel like their learning from them, and you know coming from. Of course, and written journalism. When you write something you can a brace yourself further reaction. We have mostly the people you hear from the people who disagree in some way with podcasting You get flooded with love, it's really unbelievable. I mean people just an annual
don't believe in it. First, if you ve come from France, but the truth is people are only list if they really relate to what you're doing and so on Twitter on social media everything. can be nasty, but the response to your show is I love this thing you did when the next show here is an idea for you, The ideas you get are really good by the weather. Listeners are engaged in that way, so this is underlying positivity about the media and the feeling that the listeners or advocates for the medium that I think cuts against that. You know left right tv thing where there's just ass soon ass, you are at the root of a as, I am sure everybody you meeting that was heard you that hasn't even says. Look nothing like. I thought it's because they all created an image of you in their minds. There's a million different Jacob icebergs out there of the listeners who like sort of like have version of you, and so when
This is your words there, creating what you look like in their minds. Your words in some way become a part of them and it- and it has this like sort of like it's a real vehicle for empathy in this way. like it. You can it's a good medium for new ones and it's a good medium for understanding. Like, I think, a lot of other media did they just want conflict tv just once conflict they just its works. Well that that day, I was going to ask you: why is it that podcast are succeeding in an environment? That word seems weak. Everything all seems we go in the other direction. Everything else seems to be heavy heavy conflict. Heavy heavy opinion and short where's podcast tends to be slightly longer format, slightly less heated slightly more thoughtful. Why is it that this medium and of what is a very noisy environment is is growing in doing well,
I think part of it is like because everything else is happening, that you is the annual jogger sort of hungry. For that, I think I did, but I think there's a lot of structural reasons, for I think one has just information density that there's not you dont have a lot of information density in in in listening environment like you can you can pick up, so it has to be longer because it just takes longer to get the same amount of book of equivalent amount of its. The bitch pictures with does work is so so they are by nature, going to be longer, but then so then, what are you up to mining for and pop pike? Us you're not optimizing for, like massive amounts of information. Your optimizing for emotion, like that's what it's good at its good emotional, often city and that's why you like hang out with people who are being true to their feelings, while they're talking about politics are not dry and worrying there actually real life people that you want to hang out with, and so that's why that's why it works. Like that, I think that has a lot to do with it.
that's what the medium is good at MILAN. One way, thank you! Hot gases, public radio with the rules were moved. So you know you take away the sixty minutes, clock and and all this for malady around when the bus station breaks. Are you take away the SSC Sea, which is crucial? I would say that you don't have to swear on your part gas, but the fact that you can swear creates a certain dynamic of freedom and you take away the management you known you so someone can create in the show can be twenty two minutes one week in thirty four minutes and next week, and it can be. You can play with play with structure in this way of this all this creative freedom, and that makes it, I think, more personal, more expressive and also lets you go deep faster. I mean I'm a big fan of the daily in your conscience sure a lot of people. Listen to and part of its great abided is its short. So it's not a big events me enough to set aside an hour to listen to it, but had anything about the universe where everyone is sort of the same
I mean the lease on the surface here I mean, I think I think I feel fine, I mean that's the universe. We will came from this universe, though, where there was like this editorial content and advertise continents very separated, not Brands are going on with one long advertisements if they did out there listen, Starbucks hasn't podcast golden as upon gas in me, I think it's fine too But but how do you is journalism? Think about that land? I think I think the questions like four for us as a company. I think how we deal with it as a company is like very important, but like so so We do that as a company is that when we make progress for brands, we do it under different banners, calling him a creative and there's a different set of rules and different their expectations and, like that's, very clear, their separate teams that work on them and and we and we, and we make every effort to signal to the listener that this is a this is, and this is not an editorial products. This is this is a brand products product and the brand is going
make the final draw decisions so but yeah, but I dont, but they're gonna be out and that's important from the company for spending, because they're gonna be mixing together in the agents during there's, not any distinction their yeah. I mean that not all pod cas that a company like ours makes are journalism and not all the advertising is advertising. So one of the first shows we did a panoply of something called the message which we did with G, which was a science fiction show and it was created by a sponsor through their advertising agency, but the sponsor was never mentioned anywhere in the show. The show was a piece of science fiction storytelling. It was really good and went to number one, but we made we took on the job of making this show as a really entertaining
and we were delighted. The g didn't want to push a heavy handed message through because we thought it would have undermined the the appeal the programme, but there is a lot of them between space here that can be uncomfortable for people who come out of a church and state and vibrant environment. I mean we read. I read sponsor messages on my part cast. I can do that because of the precedent of old time. Radio and red radio is as always done, advertising in that format. It did this. The print equivalent of that is against the rules, but I think you have to go to the principal principles. Are you dont want the advertising to influence the content and you dont want to confuse your listeners. A reader is about what is advertising and what is that? A trial content and, in fact on podcast, no one is being always could you so just just quickly wouldn't leave in the future. The businesses are the future of the the medium ivy. I'd like to say
panels like those that were at the dawn of the second golden age of audio. I think that like where, if you think about the first golden age, it was like twenty started. Radio really was Kay We had a radio and all these big names got stuck Lucille ball and leg. Orson, Welles and CBS got started around then and then tv came along and sort of way. people have radios in their corner and they sat around and looked at them. But of course there are many pictures on the radio, Debbie comes along and I like organs thing that make one on watch it because it's much better watch but now with like on the man now that we have on the men audio available to everyone, its change. The form, the same way that undermine tv change, the form and- and I think we're just gonna- see an explosion of. Seeing, and we are going to continue to see an explosion of new kinds of programming and they are going to continue to penetrate mainstream behaviour, and I think I think, in the future, do you listen to podcast is going to be, as is.
We had a question as watch video. You know they're gonna say what are you? What kind of Pakistan does? Indeed you would you like reality? Podcast you like narrative, I guess you like fiction progress. I think that's that's where we're headed and authority for people knew twenties, that's at work. there, but I think for the older audience for people say over fifty. It's tough really get people to adapt and I don't know that they really are going to necessarily shift overdone demand. I mean as Alex as you know, this is it's really. It's really fun to be involved this right now, because you have the ceiling which I also experience when we were first developing internet journalism, slate that we're invent. this new medium, the bottomless possibility and there's all this and sit, enthusiasm and excitement about it and their things, like I mean around the drama. Storytelling shows that aren't journal Somebody fix it. You know that really went out in America in the nineteen sixties and it's coming back and suddenly you know you have a medium and you have storytellers new cars
story, but you have to retrain the audience, but there's an audience is ready to do this and I have shall so much funding Well, that's right now! So now is an entrepreneur. What advice would you give to someone who's who starting a business, and so I feel somewhat ill equipped to answer that question because I feel like every entrepreneurs journey is is is like. it makes it seem like there's rules, and in my case I didn't feel like there was rules, and I I don't think I'm an entrepreneur by nature like I think I chose I am very much of the school alike. I had this subject area
I knew about, and I saw a business opportunity within the subject here that I knew about and I started a company in that subject area. So, if you are in that scenario, maybe my words make sense, I would just keep focusing on the thing that that you love about that thing. That has made you good at it and use that sort of like you're you're guiding star. So you're teaching young journalists are aspiring to illustrate what advice when you give a journalist aspiring journalists today. One is that you need to understand the business too for self protection reasons, if no other. When I went journalism, you could just be a good journalist and leave the business side tat their people, but now it's evolving so quickly that I think it crucial that you understand what business model supports, what you do, whether its sustainable and what the future a future of it is. I mean, as evidenced by this conversation, neither one of you started out to be a
business person. He started journalists and yet you have to pay off a better from inside I visit by the way I love being business. I love it like. I was not expecting to love it as much as I do, and I just I really really But you wouldn't be doing it if it were not for podcasting, probably wouldn't I run a different kind of, and I feel same way. You know it's late at some point I became be editor at some point. I just became responsible for it all and really like to, and you know I think, the way in which a lot of journalists underestimate businesses. They think they do something creative and it's not true. That could not be more wrong. I mean business is incredibly creative and its incredibly hard. You know, but it's it has more and have this more ups and downs. journalism does ere. I will thank. He has for joining us. A great discovery they get back includes this episode of exchanges at Goldman Sachs,
to listen and watch more toxic gs, conversations with leaders from fields as diverse as business technology and sports people like Oriana Huffington. such an Adela, David Beckham, another's visit, GS, DOT, com and type in toxic Gs. Objects You are, and we hope you join us again next time. This part gassed was recorded on January thirty. First, two thousand eighteen, this podcast should not be copied distributed, published or reproduced in whole or in part. The information contained in this podcast is not financial research, nor a product of Goldman Sachs, global investment research. Neither Goldman Sachs nor any of its affiliates makes any representation or warranty as to the
accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in this podcast, and any liability, therefore, including in respect of direct indirect or consequential loss or damage, is expressly disclaimed. The views expressed in this pot cast are not necessarily those of Goldman Sachs and Goldman Sachs is not providing any financial, economic, legal, accounting or tax advice or recommendations in this pod cast. In addition, the receipt of this part cast by any listener is not to be taken as constituting the giving of investment advice by Goldman Sachs too that listener, nor to constitute such person a client of any Goldman Sachs Entity.
Transcript generated on 2021-10-12.