Wick Communications

Posts Tagged ‘Podcasts’

Alexa, tell me the news

In Innovation on 11 May 2017 at 2:13 pm

I don’t have a voice-activated device like Google Home or Amazon Echo. In fact, I live in Silicon Valley and I’m not sure I know anyone who has one. That said, these things are coming and they may well turn out to be useful home appliances and not simply parlor toys.

That is why some smart organizations — including Gatehouse Media — are experimenting with producing audio news reports that can be read on these things. The idea is that you might tell Amazon Echo to read your local news and it might deliver a news summary from your local newspaper. NPR has secured the default placement with Amazon and now a familiar human voice reads that news rather than the weird robot voice you would expect from these things.

The potential is huge; the known is nil.

Gatehouse Media’s Bill Church told Rick Edmonds at Poynter: “It’s product first, then audience, and monetization later.” Hmmm… where have we heard that before?

I have a bias against audio reports of the news. I find print, video or photo presentations a lot easier to skip through and past. I open a newspaper and I get clues by placement, headline and photos about whether the gatekeeper thinks this is important for me to know or whether it’s something of lesser importance. I listen to NPR for hours on end in the car, but that’s because can’t do much else. When I hear a podcast, it is an immersive experience. Unfortunately, I don’t have time nor inclination for too many immersive experiences. What about you? … Read the rest of this entry »


Year of the Podcast. Again.

In Media on 7 Jan 2016 at 3:43 pm

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 3.24.26 PM

In case you are wondering, 2015 was The Year of the Podcast. And if you missed that wave, despair not. Because 2016 is also The Year of the Podcast.

It’s easy to snark about such broad predictions, but there really is something happening here.

Podcasts have been around for more than a decade. They have long been the unsexy stepchild to video online, but lately they have become more important. This American Life, TED Talks, Radiolab – there are now thousands of streaming radio-like shows that can be played at home, in the car or on your mobile device. According to some estimates, 15 percent of Americans over the age of 12 listened to some form of Podcast each month in 2014. I guarantee that figure has risen significantly since then.


Jonah Willihnganz, director of the Stanford Storytelling Project, says the “aha” moments of journalism are just more palpable when delivered via the spoken word.

“Our brains soak up information and learning in stories much more easily than in analytic essays,” Willihnganz said. “The audio story is particularly appealing to our brains because we get so much powerful information from the sound of someone’s voice and their environment.”

There are so many good reasons to produce podcasts as part of news reports that it’s crazy we didn’t try our hand at this long before anyone proclaimed the Year of the Podcast. Glenn Liebowitz of McKinsey and Co. identified several compelling traits of podcasts in his blog, which is the first link above.

Podcasts are mobile: You take them with you on your walks, while doing the laundry, in your car.

Podcasts are on-demand: Forget appointment radio. You decide when to listen.

Podcasts are free: “Nuff said,” said Liebowitz.

Podcasts allow for multi-tasking: You can listen to this week’s episode of Serial while you go about your life. You don’t need to sit down and read. (If you don’t know about Serial, you really should. Google it. I’m hooked.)

Podcasts are reasonably easy to produce: I say “reasonably” because the hardest part is getting the audio levels right. Well, OK, the hardest part is a good idea and compelling storytelling. But the levels are critical. Really anyone can do that. Read the rest of this entry »

How I write

In Writing techniques on 5 Nov 2015 at 12:33 pm
Quick outline for a longer story.

Quick outline for a longer story.

Occasional Kicker contributor Ed Henninger got on my bad side recently with a column he wrote that was published on his website and in the Local Media Association monthly. Here’s the heresy, which begins with a premise he holds to be false:

“We’re in the business of writing.” No we’re not. We are in the business of bringing meaning to readers’ lives.

See how easy it is to ruin my day?

OK, Ed’s right. Completely. It’s just that I and most of the people I know in newsrooms consider ourselves to be writers. We got into the business – whether in 1975 or 2015 – because we like to write, work hard at writing and believe our writing is an important way we bring meaning to readers lives. Let’s just say effective writing and bringing meaning are not mutually exclusive.

Take that, design boy! … Read the rest of this entry »

What great bosses know

In Management, Uncategorized on 4 Dec 2009 at 8:16 am

I’ve mentioned the Poynter Institute before, and I’m sure many of you are well aware of some of the training and information available through the Florida-based institute. There is something specific that I think is a terrific resource for anyone who manages anyone else, particularly in this business.

It’s a series of podcasts called “What Great Bosses Know…” They are short audio clips of mostly common-sense advice that couldn’t be more welcome. It’s as if you have a management mentor online – one who is always available when you need her.

Topics include new manager mistakes, public speaking, managing introverts and many other common conundrums. This week’s podcast deals with mistakes new managers make, including continuing to do their old job just because it’s comfortable and avoiding veteran employees just because dealing with them is not comfortable. It’s good stuff… Read the rest of this entry »