Our Mysterious Obsession with Podcasts

image via Gimlet Media

image via Gimlet Media

My commute recently doubled in length and I’ve found myself dangerously close to banging my head against the steering wheel every umpteenth time I hear T. Swift’s “Bad Blood” on the radio.* To avoid head trauma I’ve traded in my top 40 radio station for a safer option: Podcasts.

By now, even if you don’t listen to them, you have probably heard about the rise in podcast popularity and the endless listening options right at your fingertips. Maybe you’ve even experienced severe FoMO if you are part of the population that has yet to jump on the “podwagon.”

Confession: FoMO was one of the main reasons why I tuned into Serial last year. I needed to know why everyone was talking about it and wanted to add to the ‘guilty or innocent?’ debate (even though I’m still extremely torn). But I digress…

Which brings me to my most recent listening-binge: Mystery Show. If you’ve listened to Starlee Kine’s series, you can answer the following questions.

How tall is Jake Gyllenhaal?

What happened to that NYC video store that was renting out movies one day and disappeared the next?

Why was Britney Spears reading a virtually unknown book in 2008 after her very public breakdown?

Why is someone driving around LA with an “ILUV911” vanity plate?

Who is Hans Jordi and how did his belt buckle (adorned with a tiny golden toaster) end up in a gutter?

Now if you find yourself reading these questions and asking yourself, “who cares?” you’re not alone. I was skeptical at first. I figured the answers to these questions will not get me far in life, much less help me at trivia night. But when faced with two hours in the car I thought I’d give it a shot…

Confession (#2 if we’re keeping track): I listened to all five Mystery episodes in less than a day. Mysteries, by nature, spark your interest but it takes real storytelling technique to keep listeners engaged. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but what I will share is that I flew through the existing episodes so quickly not so I could hear Starlee crack each case, but because I couldn’t get enough of the way she told each story.

The only real criteria she has for taking on a new mystery is that it’s something that can’t be solved online. Why? Well for one, that show would be really boring. But it also forces her to go out, meet new people, have conversations and share those stories from others she meets when she’s trying to get to the bottom of a case.Many of the best parts of the show don’t even relate to the resolution—they’re the digressions. (There was a segment during the Britney episode where Starlee calls someone in customer service at Ticketmaster. I’ve never been so enchanted by a call center conversation. This probably sounds ludicrous, but you’ll know what I mean when you hear it.)

Starlee will be back with more episodes, which I’m hoping happens sooner rather than later because I CAN’T TAKE THE SUSPENSE. Maybe in season 2 she’ll crack the real case behind the Perry/Swift feud so I can sleep much more soundly at night…

Once you’re done with Mystery you can satisfy your podcast craving with other favorites from HBers.

All Songs Considered

“When I was in high school, I was obsessed with discovering new music. When I wasn’t studying, I was going to concerts and downloading albums just to see what was out there. Well today I don’t have the time to do all of that research, but I do have this podcast. The crew behind All Songs Considered is a group of energetic music enthusiasts who expose listeners to a gamut of genres as new tunes and artists emerge throughout the year. The podcast also features artist interviews and short concerts.” – Catherine

The Energy Gang

“The Energy Gang is produced by Greentech Media and offers a deep-dive into current energy and environmental topics including opportunities, challenges, technologies, politics and market forces. If you’re involved in the energy space you should be listening to it and if you’re just interested in learning more this is the place to start.” – Julia

Freakonomics

“While we all have opinions about what works and doesn’t, it’s great to hear economists analyze the data on issues ranging from gun control to health food, the flu vaccine to whether who we elect as president really makes any difference.” – Nicolas

Inside the New York Times Book Review

“Each week, the NYT puts out a podcast on the books it reviews in that week’s Book Review section. However, calling this a podcast about books doesn’t seem to do it justice. It’s actually a series of interviews with authors and reviewers on a handful of different topics. I listen religiously because this podcast is a great way to not only gain in-depth knowledge about a topic in a brief period of time, but also to consider how authors effectively communicate about those topics to make people care/read/listen.” – Catherine

StartUp

“If you’re interested in starting a company, you need to listen to StartUp. In the first season, host Alex Blumberg, former producer for This American Life and co-founder of Planet Money, shares the real, unfiltered, brutally-honest highs and lows of starting a company. Listeners are privy to the behind-the-scenes conversations with family members, investors, potential business partners and more, that provide the most realistic depiction of what startup life is really like.” – Julia

“You should start with the first season, which documents the startup of StartUp. From harsh investor meetings to arguments on how to split equity and brainstorming about how to attract more listeners, both the StartUp seasons are full of great stories for anyone who ever wanted to start or run a business.” – Nicolas

Stuff You Should Know

“Stuff You Should Know is run by Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant, two funny guys who research a topic and banter about it. The subject matter is always interesting and they always find ways to weave jokes into the discussion.” – Katherine

TED Radio Hour

“You like TED talks, who doesn’t? But, who has time to listen to full talks or sort through the myriad of topics. TED Radio hour gives you 4 or 5 talks per week on a given topic with both key bits ‘from the TED stage’ as well as one-on-one interviews with the speakers providing a greater level of depth and insight. I recommend ‘Growing Up’ and ‘Getting Organized’ to start.” – Jonathan

The Week Ahead

“Every Thursday, The Economist comes out with it’s The Week Ahead podcast. I listen to this one because unlike other news-oriented podcasts, it’s not reactionary. Its hosts preempt the major global events that will be occurring in the next week and tell you what you need to know (what to expect, who’s involved, what the consequences might be, etc). This makes me feel better informed about the news as it’s happening. AND, it’s always nice to hear from a news source that’s not based in the US.” – Catherine

*For the record, I have no bad blood with Taylor, but I can only hear “Band-aids don’t fix bullet holes” so many times before 9 AM every day.

 

TechCrunch, Texting While Driving, Are Hatchbacks Back?: Fresh Ground Podcast #23

The Fresh Ground Podcast will return to its regularly scheduled Mondays (hopefully) next week, but in the meantime, please enjoy Todd’s guest appearance on another great podcast that has resumed after an even longer break than our summer one: PRobecast. Launched under Doug Haslam’s watch at Topaz Partners, Tech PR Gems grew to become a well respected podcast before suffering from “I have a day job” syndrome, as many podcasts do.

PRobecast episode #91 featured special guest Todd Van Hoosear along with Topazers Alison Raymond, Joanna DiTrapano, Tony Sapienza and Evan Siff talking about the recent purchase AOL made, content curation, texting while driving, hatchbacks, etc. Here are the issues we covered:

Has Social Network Content Creation Plateaued – Research from Forrester is saying that while social media use is on the rise, social media content creation has shown no measureable growth over the past year. Are you a creator or a curator?

When it’s the Case of TMI, Curation is Key – Paul Gillin recently had an article in B2B Magazine talking about the importance of not just creation, but curation. There is almost too much information out there – and to find the important things, you must find ways to sort through all the information coming in.

AOL’s New Purchase: TechCrunch – AOL bought TechCrunch for around 40 million dollars. What does this mean for the future of TechCrunch. Can they really be unbiased when owned by a public company?

Bye, Bye Texting While Driving – There has been a lot of discussion over the texting ban. 30 states and the District of Columbia have banned it. However, research has been finding that since the ban, crash rates rose as people where trying to go “under the radar” while still texting. Living in a society that is always connected, what do you think of these bans?

Can RIM’s PlayBook Run Up Against the iPad? – RIM recently announced a new tablet called the PlayBook. This seems to be the most similar competitor to the iPad. Do you think the PlayBook has a chance against the giant that is Apple?

Are Hatchbacks Cool? – Ford has reported that 60-percent buyers are opting for the new Ford Fiesta hatchback, stating that just over 8-percent of cars last year were hatchbacks. Is the hatchback a new trend?

Listen Now:

The Promise of Social CRM: Fresh Ground Podcast #22

The Fresh Ground Podcast is back after our extended Summer Break. Here is an excerpt from the first part of Todd’s presentation on the promise of social CRM at PodCamp Boston 5, along with the slides from his session.

Todd spoke on a number of issues facing businesses looking to get a unified view of their customer across email, CRM and social media. It’s a dream that is not too far off according to many analysts and professionals watching the social CRM space.

Listen Now:

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Chuck Hester on LinkedIn for Media Relations: Fresh Ground #19

In this second part of a recording of Chuck Hester’s presentation on LinkedIn success secrets from Newcomm Forum 2010, Chuck shares some great tips on using LinkedIn for media relations, among other great tips. Chuck Hester is a LinkedIn power user with over 10,000 connections on the business networking site and the author of “Linking in to Pay it Forward: Changing the Value Proposition in Social Media.” He serves as director of communications at email marketing firm iContact.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Francesca Karpel on Bridging Employees and Customers: Fresh Ground #17

Francesca Karpel heads up internal communications at NetApp, a company that has twice been named the #1 Great Place to Work. She connected up with Fresh Ground principal Todd Van Hoosear at the 2010 NewComm Forum to talk about social media and corporate culture.

Some highlights of the conversation:

“Our vision for online community was to … flatten the company if you will, so that it didn’t matter where you were in the world, what function you were in, what level of the organization you were in — that you would have equal access to other people in the company to ask or answer questions, to really transcend so many of the barriers that create silos.”

“As I started to look at [flattening the organization], I discovered that there were a number of pilots going on within the company testing social media, community, blogging, [and how we could help partners and customers. I] asked those folks if they would like to be part of my initiative to find a platform that we could use internally, with a common hope that we could find a platform that would work internally and externally, but no promises.”

“We launched both our internal communities and our external communities at the same time as we launched our [new] brand back in March of 2008…. What this allowed us to do is to offer both our customers and our employees a functionality that they didn’t have before of immediately asking and getting questions answered.”

“Most of our communities are actually public communities, so whether or not you’re a part of, say, our services team, if a conversation, if content in that area interests you, you can search for it…. We really only have private communities when there is a business reason for that community to be private — where there’s a need for confidentiality.”

“We’ve created [an] environment which leans to being very open. Actually, the very first employee who commented in our NetApp Live … internal community was someone from Singapore. And what we found with other initiatives is that people who are from outside the U.S. are some of the early commentors.”

“I completely respect the concept and the practicality of a firewall to protect data that needs to be protected. But not all information needs to be protected.”

“We’re using the Jive Software platform, and their most recent upgrade includes a concept of ‘bridging’ [both external and internal communities while respecting confidentiality]. The bridging would allow an employee to see public content … with the same search that they would use … in the internal community.”

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Reagan Gray on the Advertising Shift: Fresh Ground #11

For over 20 years Reagan Gray has worked in the advertising industry, helping businesses of all types find and talk to the right target audiences. Prior to moving to Boston a few years ago, Reagan owned an ad agency in southern California that is still thriving. Now, she’s bringing her creative thinking and integrated viewpoint to the region.

Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz had a chance to speak with Reagan about her current projects and perspective on the shift going on in the advertising industry today.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Clients are seeing … social media as this great way to get into the marketplace, but they’re doing it … haphazardly and we think they’re really missing an opportunity to extend their brand….”

“[Social] media [is] advertising…. You can control [it], to a certain extent, and you can make it work for you … just as hard as your offline or paid media.”

“Your … creative people [need to ensure that your social media] brand matches and complements … the website.”

“The reason why SuperBowl ads are still expensive is because they work.”

“[Broadcast] ads have to work a little harder. Ads don’t just create top-of-mind awareness…. They’re becoming much more interactive….”

“You shouldn’t buy anything unless you’ve got a great creative direction.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Steve Wildstrom on the New Journalism: Fresh Ground #10

Steve Wildstrom wrote BusinessWeek’s “Technology & You” column from its creation in 1994 until BusinessWeek’s acquisition by Bloomberg in December, 2009. Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz caught up with him at DEMO Spring 2010 where they discussed his current projects and thoughts on the future of journalism (not to mention a few business models that might work for newly independent journalists).

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Journalistic freelancing is very very difficult these days because, basically, pricing has gone to hell. You’ve got thousands of people out there willing to do something — I can’t say it’s really the same thing that professional journalists do, but it seems to be good enough for a lot of people — and they’re doing it for nothing.”

“It’s kind of an ethical wasteland… It’s very situational. You have to figure out the rules as you go along. One thing I have been doing is some blogging for [a company] — what amount to feature pieces… I’m not writing specifically about [their] products, but I’m writing about a field that’s of interest to them.”

“I [thought] I’d get a lot of pushback from my journalistic colleagues. I didn’t.”

“I’m also writing product reviews … that would not be published anywhere, so they can anticipate what they can expect to see when they launch.”

“I think it’s becoming important for companies to promote themselves in new ways. [Sam Whitmore] has been promoting this idea for some time: that companies, because of the changes in journalism, can’t really count on journalists to cover their products in the way they used to, and they have to get more sophisticated about basically doing internal journalism to promote their own products.”

“I am not looking to build an empire at this point in my career. I’m not looking to retire either….”

“I think that Om [Malik] has done a fabulous job [with] GigaOm Pro…. Basically he’s providing analyst-type reports really competitive with what Gartner and Forrester [do] at substantially lower prices.”

“The fact is what analysts do and what journalists do is not particularly different, they just do it for different audiences.”

“In my years with BusinessWeek, I don’t think I ever quoted an analyst…. I found quoting an analyst was a lot like quoting another journalist, which … I wouldn’t do.”

“I wish I had a copy editor [as a blogger]. Good copy editors are invaluable [and] hard to find. It drives me crazy every time I get a blog comment pointing out a grammar error, a spelling error…. I’d be a lot happier if that editing got done before it got posted.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Renee Hopkins on Innovation: Fresh Ground #9

Renee Hopkins is the editor of Strategy & Innovation and the lead editor of Innosight’s InnoBlog. She sat down with Todd Van Hoosear to discuss a challenge facing many organizations: how do you create a business culture that both encourages and captures innovation? Creative thinking, which is one of the essential components of innovation, does not like to be constrained by business processes. Renee helps us tackle how you can reconcile these two very different dynamics and build a structure for capitalizing on innovation.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Innovation is something new that’s been created … that is providing some value…. It’s not just a dream, there’s something active about it.”

“I’m probably one of the few people who can say that a blog actually directly brought them to a job…. The blog sealed the deal, otherwise I would’ve been nobody to them.”

“We help companies grow by helping them understand how they can make innovation repeatable.”

“Innovation starts with … solving a job that the customer has to get done.”

“We don’t want to come out of the box. That’s such a nasty cliche, but what you really want to do is clearly define the box, and then ideate your butt off all the way inside that box so that you’re coming up with ideas very deeply in this space….”

“It’s not the technology that disrupts, it’s the business model.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

David Dahl on "Your Town": Fresh Ground #6

In episode 6 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with David Dahl, editor of the zoned editions of the Boston Globe.

Chuck and David discuss the Boston Globe’s “Your Town”, how the editorial process works, how community bloggers can participate, the impact of layoffs, the accelerating speed of change in the industry and who their competition is (and isn’t).

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“[Our] model is to link to [other sites] and in most cases, those bloggers are delighted to get the attention and get the links in Boston.com.”

“[Boston’s] Universal Hub [website] is a really clever, energetic aggregation site and I think Adam [Gaffin] is doing a really good job… but is he a competitor? In this environment, it’s difficult to define somebody as a competitor when, in a lot of these cases, we’re all linking to one another.”

“Boston.com… is one of the most successful websites in the country, one of the top ten regional newspaper websites in the country [with] really quite a loyal following.”

“There are discussion groups. [Readers have the] ability to sign on and become a registered user on Boston.com and create your own blog. There’s a terrific mom site that has created its own community. There’s another terrific site called Raw that has created its own community of amateur photographers.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean  Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

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Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.

Lee Sherman on Distributed Communities: Fresh Ground #5

In episode 5 of the Fresh Ground Podcast, Chuck Tanowitz talks with Lee Sherman, who runs the MintLife Blog. Lee brings over 20 years of editorial experience to Mint, including stints at Quicken.com and Worth magazine.

Chuck and Lee discuss how to create a content-driven marketing strategy, as well as the and differences and similarities between journalism and marketing. Lee shares some key numbers around Mint’s content-driven marketing strategy, and how to avoid thinking in terms of technological silos.

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“I think that having a journalistic mindset has allowed us to create content that is compelling, and that leads to traffic, and traffic leads to conversions…”

“[At] the end of the day, we’re a software company, and we’re trying to get people to sign up and use a personal finance application… [You] always have to [keep] that in mind, but … building an audience through compelling content was key to our strategy….”

“[While] we’re very careful about protecting people’s privacy … we know a lot about how people are spending their money, and we’ve produced a number of infographics which illustrate trends in consumer spending, and those things tend to get picked up by other publications.”

“We would not have a publication called ‘MintLife’ if it didn’t actually bring in users.”

“[We] initially were thinking of building a community into the blog, but one of the learnings that came out of our discovery process … [was the] notion of distributed community…. Because of how people navigate to our content, the truth is that the conversation about our content is really taking place outside of Mint.com. [It’s] really taking place on Digg, on Facebook, on Twitter.”

“[We] embraced the notion of distributed community, and started to look at ways to bring the conversation into the blog. We haven’t fully gone down this road yet, but it’s a direction that we’re going to continue to go to, and there are tools like Backtype [and] Facebook Connect [to make this possible].”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

Listen Now:

icon for podbean Standard Podcasts: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download | Embeddable Player | Hits (0)

Subscribe to our podcast using our
RSS feed at http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreshGroundPodcast.

rss2

Our opening music is “D.I.Y.” by A Band Called Quinn from the album “Sun Moon Stars” and is available from Music Alley, the Podsafe Music Network.