Can public radio powerhouse WNYC navigate a crisis of its own making?

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 150, published February 6, 2018. Good morning, all. So, while not quite breaking news, the late-day publication of a piece on WNYC’s ongoing crisis narrative has led me to rewrite and restructure the newsletter a little bit. As such, this issue is a tad messier than usual. My apologies. “The Troubles.” We’re three months into New York Public Radio’s reckoning with sexual harassment and an organizational culture that allowed for bullying and discriminatory behaviors that have especially hurt women and people of color. (See here, here, and here.) And it’s far from over. Boris Kachka, writing for New York magazine’s The Cut (where the original John Hockenberry piece by journalist Suki Kim dropped on December 1), published a whopper Monday evening that provides one of the most detailed looks at the station’s troubling history with Continue reading "Can public radio powerhouse WNYC navigate a crisis of its own making?"

Turns out people really like podcasts after all (and now we have numbers to prove it)

Welcome to Hot Pod, a newsletter about podcasts. This is issue 149, published January 30, 2018. One month in. When Apple rolled out its long-awaited in-episode podcast analytics last month, part of the anxiety (and excitement, really) was finding out whether, essentially, the world would end. Which is to say, whether this whole podcast thing was a bubble, a house of cards; whether perhaps many of the metrics the industry had been using to articulate, extract, and transact its value was nothing more than inflated abstraction, like the hollow vitality of a viral tweet lifted up by a golemnic army of stolen identities. You can scratch that particular anxiety off the list. Over at Wired, Miranda Katz checked in with a few publishers one month in and wrote:
Though it’s still early days, the numbers podcasters are seeing are highly encouraging. Forget those worries that the podcast bubble Continue reading "Turns out people really like podcasts after all (and now we have numbers to prove it)"

A Reckoning in Our Own House

This weekend, New York Magazine published investigative reporter Suki Kim's personal experiences and reporting on sexual harassment by John Hockenberry, former host of the WNYC program, "The Takeaway." The article alleges that over the past decade, Hockenberry sexually harassed interns, producers, and a guest on "The Takeaway." It also details a culture of bullying; in particular Hockenberry's behavior towards three female co-hosts, none of whom remained on the show.  In August 2017, John Hockenberry retired from WNYC as a highly regarded, award-winning broadcast and radio journalist. Most staff members at WNYC were unaware of his alleged behavior until we read Suki Kim's article.  This podcast is a tick-tock of a station reckoning with its own sexual harassment allegations; the on-air conversations between hosts, reporters, listeners and WNYC management.  

The Takeaway! Public Radio Show Scoops MSM With First Michael Hastings Interview

Everyone has been talking about General Stanley McChrystal after the now-infamous Rolling Stone article was released, now resulting in President Obama’s acceptance of his letter of resignation. Not many, however, have bothered to talk to Michael Hastings, the writer of the controversial story that started this mess – except for John Hockenberry and Celeste Headlee at The Takeaway, who scooped everyone when they interviewed him yesterday morning.

The national morning radio show scored an eleven minute interview with Hastings, who was still in Afghanistan. During the segment he stated that he feels Obama lost control of the situation in Afghanistan almost a year ago, and that the article was a reflection of that. Citing the statement issued by McChrystal, in which he apologized for giving the interview to Hastings but didn’t deny the tension captured in the article, Hastings said the unrest felt by the General and the troops is “undeniable.”

Hastings spent between April 15 and May 15 with McChrystal and his team developing the story, with continued contact for additional reporting from that time until the story broke. When asked about reports that painted McChrystal in a different light, Hastings insisted that it was a case of journalistic spin in previous stories that have made the General seem more on-board with the mission:

“In the past the General has given pretty good access to a number of journalists, and I believe those journalists… were interested in a flattering profile of the General, which assures you more access in the future. I understand that, but it’s not something I’m interested in doing.”

At the end of the interview, Hockenberry asked Hastings what he would ask President Obama if he had the chance:

“Here’s the question to ask: What do you mean when you say we’re withdrawing in July 2011? That’s the question to ask, because that’s very unclear, and the military doesn’t think we’re withdrawing in July 2011 but the White House keeps saying, ‘No, we are.’”

Congrats to The Takeaway for nabbing this interview before anyone else thought to. And needless to say, McChrystal’s replacement, General David Petraeus, probably won’t be sitting down for any heart-to-hearts with Hastings anytime soon.