Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Podcasts? How Do They Work?

When I saw this headline in The Week, I was confused --
How a new generation of left-wing podcasters are dethroning Rush Limbaugh and right-wing talk radio
-- because I don't remember anyone from The Week dropping by our hobbit hole to interview the cast and crew of The Professional Left Podcast.  Or even calling us on the "telephone" machine now that we have regular, party-line service here in the middle of Middle America,

At any rate, at first I was excited, because apparently "we" are 'sploding!  And who doesn't like to be 'sploding!
...Starting with Rush Limbaugh in the late 1980s, influential personalities have projected their grievances and biases onto millions of listeners, who have rewarded these hosts with wealth and incredible influence in Republican politics. Efforts to deliberately build an alternative network of left-wing radio shows have all ended in the same way: with failure, none more spectacular than the 2010 implosion of Air America.

Suddenly, though, Limbaugh has company.

Since the election, subscribership to a series of left-leaning podcasts has exploded...
Then I read a little further and became a little less excited:
The most prominent is Pod Save America, the brainchild of former Obama administration speechwriters Jon Favreau and Jon Lovett, as well as former Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor. Episodes draw anywhere from 800,000 to 1.4 million listeners. Those numbers rival major cable programs, and in some cases eclipse household name shows like Morning Joe and Anderson Cooper 360.

The Pod Save empire also includes programs like Pod Save the World and Pod Save the People, all of which have strong numbers. Vox's podcasts, including The Weeds and The Ezra Klein Show, are also extremely popular...
The left's new stars are actual experts in public policy — people like former Obama strategist David Axelrod (of The Axe Files) — more than people who are famous for being famous.
It appears that as long as you're a former Obama speechwriter ... or you can get Jeff Bezos to finance your new media platform ... or you're a former Obama speechwriter ... or you're a former Obama spokesperson ... or a former Obama political chieftain ... or a former Obama speechwriter ... this new "podcast" thingie may open a door into a whole new future.

Because it is indeed undeniably true that the Left needs a reliable way to reach a broad and diverse audience as inexpensively and effectively as the Right used talk radio:
Conservative dominance of the airwaves allowed the right to do one of the most important things in public life: "agenda-setting." By communicating to conservative listeners what is important and what they should care about, Limbaugh and his fellow movement conservatives were able to direct which issues their listeners would feel most passionately about. Not only that, but they also engaged in "framing," which means they were not just setting the agenda but also offering a set of preferred options about how to achieve it.

In a 2000 study, David Barker and Kathleen Knight found that Limbaugh was able to move the needle on the issues he was most hopping mad about at any given time, and that his listeners showed "hostility toward those items beyond what can be accounted for by ideology, party identification, exposure to other conservative messages, affect for Limbaugh, or a host of other factors." Limbaugh's withering attacks on "the beautiful people," as well as "feminazis" (a disgusting term he helped popularize on the right), for example, were so effective that this year the scholar Robert Brown deemed him the "president of talk radio."

That is incredible influence for someone who possesses no meaningful advanced background in politics or policy....
And with the ubiquity of smartphones, this new "podcast" doohicky may  finally begin to do for the Left what talk radio did for the Right: defeat the limits of geography and allow us to reach people wherever they are, from wherever we are.
Right-wing radio's success was partly geographic. Republicans, who, very broadly speaking, tend to live outside of major cities and prefer the car-centric lifestyle of ranch houses, strip malls, and sprawl, spend more time driving to work than the average Democrat, making them available in huge numbers for over-the-air or satellite radio programs piped directly into their cars. By contrast, many urban-dwelling liberals walk, bike, or take public transit to work, and in many major cities, radio signals as well as the internet are unavailable on trains. Podcasts resolve this issue by downloading automatically onto smartphones for all subscribers, who can listen to the show even when they are being shunted to work 50 feet underground.
Provided "wherever we are" is Los Angeles.
Or New York.
Or Washington D.C. :-)

Behold, a Tip Jar!


Potomacker said...

"...you're a former Obama /DNC [fill in the blank]..."
It's so much more important that the "agenda-setting" and "framing" be done by the right people or the friends of the right people.

Copyright "scary quotes" used without permission

Anonymous said...

I'm still on a land-line. Smartphones scare me- the expense and the complications.

Peter Janovsky said...

Next thing you know they'll be saying "the left was right about the right all along."


dinthebeast said...

That's if you 1) are employed, and 2) have a smartphone. As I fail at both of these requirements, I guess I'm doomed to be left behind by yet another trend...

-Doug in Oakland

Robt said...

Above all, I applaud the effort of this endeavor.

If the brain children are Obama Adm. related, fine. It will be the content, the entertainment, the communicative skills of dialogue to the listeners. Getting the facts to them like getting a shipment of ammo to the front lines.

With success, the expansion of variety of hosts (and guests) has much potential.
I cannot accept surrendering Marconi's radio wave invention to conservatives that would never want to invent such a thing because they would prefer to stay traditionally with print.
There are many talented and knowledgeable speakers on the Left that could compete with Raunchbo. I listen to some that could take on Rush and Beck by scheduling that opposing view show smack in-between.

Even Breeitbart in it's intertubes medium has the right winger billionaire who wants to divide America for himself and uses his wealth to insulate the republican web site from capitalism.

There is something that is going to be required in any endeavor as this.

The right uses every right wing media outlet it has and all their subsidiaries to promote newsy bites and promote controversy as the have always done with El Rushbo. Even non right winger media picks up a prommo from Rush like when he called Sandra Fluke a whore. It is shock Jock of yore...!
I do not see converting of the right wing farmer who gets on his tractor and heads for the corn fields. Who can only muster time and thought to turn the radio knob to its "ON" position. Where the station has been left stationary for the last 30 plus years.
I appreciate the acknowledgement and effort to get water out to those thirsty in the desert.
The potential for this platform to bring more listeners to sites and podcasts as the Professional Left and others , we shall see.

As mentioned of the failure of Air America. Which was plentiful and mostly management. The talent that rose from that failure. Rachel Maddow is most prominent on the TV. Hartmann enhanced his radio presence, Steph Miller on XM, much of the talent received well needed exposure.

What Air America did not have was the corporate right's partisan ad backing and the far right crazy billionaires donating to keep them afloat equivalence.Dog eat dog capitalism for the left and billionaire socialism on the right.

From Blue coal to clean coal. Conservatism marches on..........

trgahan said...

Can't tell if Mr. Faris either knowingly or unknowingly wrote a Both Sides! hit piece of Crooked Media.

He seems to be trying to make three ex-Obama staffers (and their hires) who for 9 months (just counting as Crooked Media) interview ACTUAL Liberals/Democrats (you know, the people not allowed on TV/NPR unless a Heritage Foundation hack gets an uninterrupted rebuttal) and talk about policy, politics, and what liberals can do about both

are the same as

20+ years of a bloated, sexist, drug addicted, third world sex tourist, and racist paid to monologue for hours each day think tank developed taking points meant to control the voting behavior of audience that wants their voting behavior controlled. They fucking calls themselves Dittoheads for Christ sake! Yeah, some great analysis on how Rush "frames" issues for Republican voters.

Never mind, his underwriters pay to make sure Rush is in EVERY radio market and network TV twice tried to mainstream this guy. Somehow I don't expect, for all their connections (yes, as a liberal podcast listener well before November 2017 it is unfair), any of the Crooked Media guys to get a MNF analyst gig anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Such excellent points, trgahan, on Rush. Sonofabitch.

rodandchance said...

For what it is worth, I have listened to the PSA on occasion since day one of their airing and find them to be informative and I do like their insider knowledge of the Obama-Lama-Ding-Dong administration, however, I do not wait with bated breath for their next podcast and only rarely listen (maybe every two or three weeks) but I always, always look forward to the next edition of The Professional Left from behind the lines in Springfield, Il.
Count me in as another person that repeats, along with Blue Gal . . . "It's not safe for work."
I do encourage you all to do a Science Fiction podcast, I got a better understanding of the novels and short stories that I have been reading since the early 1960's.
Also Driftglass, have you ever read 'The Star Rover' by Jack London? If not, I think you will find it worth your time.

Dennis said...

Please do not let this discourage the ProLeftPodcast. I started listening years ago, I think in 2010. I may be wrong on the year but it was before you two were married and I look forward to and have heard every podcast. I also remember ads from Rush Limbaugh on the weekends where he would tell people to enjoy the weekend, that he would tell them the news on Monday and as an added bonus he would tell them what to think about it as well.