The Art of Audio Storytelling with Jacob Weisberg

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“If you make a podcast that succeeds, you’ve helped to define what podcasting is. And in ten years, I don’t think that’s going to be true in the same way.” — Jacob Weisberg

Jacob Weisberg, co-founder and CEO of Pushkin Industries, makes podcasts for a living alongside his co-founder, Malcolm Gladwell. Jacob and Malcolm have been friends for over 30 years, first meeting in college while Jacob was working at Panoply, a podcast network produced by Slate. Soon after, Jacob and Malcolm launched Revisionist History, a podcast that takes another look at a past historical event, person, or idea.

Jacob was one of the first employees at Slate where he was as a writer focused on U.S. politics. He worked his way through the ranks, becoming an editor, then a manager, and eventually sold the company to the Washington Post.

Today, Jacob predicts that the media of the future will continue to become a more audio-focused experience and he sees podcasting playing a vital role in that future. But, that vision won’t happen on its own; it takes growing and experimenting with the current market to find what works. He understands that – as is true with any business – podcasting as a business will require multiple revenue streams and cannot just rely on advertising revenue.

“If your listeners are paying for content, you have a much greater ability to say no to an advertiser that you’re not comfortable with or just an advertiser that wants you to do something or say something that you’d rather not.”

In this episode, Stephanie and Jacob discuss the origin of podcasting as a business, the importance of being creative every day, and what’s in store for the future of the podcast industry.

Quotes from Jacob:

“With the beginning of Slate, it was really doing journalism but figuring out how we could use new technology to do what we did in different ways and try different kinds of storytelling and relate to readers in a different way.”

“I have very much the same feeling now about podcasting that I did around the early days of the Internet. Which is that there are probably not that many times in anyone’s career when they are going to get to be a part of inventing something new.”

“Businesses that are totally dependent on advertising aren’t secure and aren’t healthy in a way that healthy media businesses are with multiple revenue streams.”

“Writing is like learning a language or playing a musical instrument. You’ve got to put in the time. You’ve got to do it every day. No one ever got to be a great writer without spending some hours a day just writing.”


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In Defense of Government

Politics and the English Language


Episode 309