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Political Podcasts Aren’t Just EntertainingNow They’re Indispensable

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On November 9, millions of Americans went up, came to work, and talked to their colleagues about president-elect Donald Trump. Jacob Weisberg was one of them, but his communications were overheard wellbeyond his office’swater cooler: As multitude of Slate ‘ s Trumpcast , Weisberg broadcast his workplace surmises to thousands of listeners. The upshots caught me flat-footed, remarks Weisberg, who did not foresee continuing the podcast past referendum epoch. Doing the podcast is therapeutic for me–its a channel to talk to people who I think are smart, and start to move forward again.

Throughout this grueling year, political podcasts have also offered therapy to listeners, proving that young people have an desire for spoken news and political note when delivered by a casual, trusted expression. Over the next four years, as all ears remain on Washington, podcasts have a unique opportunity tohelp bring together abifurcated America–as long as they take measures not toreinforce the echo chambers.

Keeping Younger Ears Engaged

For many media fellowships, the past time of political podcasts has provided a answer for how to get a younger audience to consume information. Because of the low-toned overhead, a squad can cause an escapade a few hours after a debate or scandal, with flexible durations and clients announcing in from a cell-phone. Thats the beauty of the podcast space–were there when listeners need us to be, does Beth Donovan, who oversaw NPRs election coverage as NPR News’senior Washington editor. If theres a legend we need to talk about, well be there–thats a very different pattern for news.

At NPR, which have all along tried too combat its radio content’sever-aging gatheringby developing a younger audience through expeditions like Generation Listen and the NPR One app, the successful experiment of the NPR Politics podcast adds a framework across the company. Downloaded over a million times a week since October, the podcast skew outstandingly young: 70 percent of listeners are 18 -3 4, and 22 percent are under 25. Much of that young listenership comes from a personal relationship with the emcees. On Morning Edition , listeners hear Sam Sanders extradite a tightly packaged, pre-produced story; on NPR Politics , he and his co-hosts laugh and ask questions. There are things I would never add on a radio storey that I can say on the podcast: what type of music I like, what robes I wear, when I get sick, reads Sanders. Its a format that the project works. The politics podcast have been shown to NPR that young person like the looseness of the format, they like that were just talking, he replies. I wouldnt be surprised if you start to see this conversational example seep into NPRs newsroom.

That casual, trustworthy delivery will be particularly important in the uncertainty of a Trump administration. If Hillary Clinton( or, truly, any legislator with judicial event) had acquired, the policy framework would have likely get undisturbed; with Donald Trump already upending Beltway protocol, listeners will need knowledgeable translators to explain the purpose of a White House press reserve or how presidential appointments work.

As such, the reporters and emcees who might otherwise be enjoying a vacation this week are obtaining themselves clambering to changes. Generally, publications would move sources away from politics, but I dont think well have the usual downturn, enunciates Weisberg, who, beyond hosting Trumpcast , is also the editor-in-chief of Slate Group. And throughout the next four years of ongoing political coverage, podcasts will continue to provide a course for publications — Slate, NPR, The New York Times, The Ringer, Vox — to be more off-the-cuff and opinionated. Its not just a new medium, tells Weisberg. Its that news organizations can do something in podcasts that they havent figure out how to do before.

Puncturing the Echo Chamber

Of course, the same conversational mode that describes in listeners also risks marking listeners according to their political panoramas, especially for shows closer to punditry than reporting. Our exchange was like Jon[ Favreau] and I talking on the phone or in a forbid somewhere, reads Dan Pfeiffer, co-host of Keepin It 1600 . But while the two friends and former Obama aides might try to buckeach other up at a rail, their self-confident predictions carry a different weight when billions of listeners turn to them as a factual political report sourcea quandary they explored in their first post-election occurrence. Left-leaningpodcasts have the same perils as conservative talk radio: isolating their gathering inside a illusion of reassurance( or even fear ).

But the inherent intimacyof a podcast also offers something that partitioned America requires today more than ever: A target to have thoughtful exchanges, even across huge differences in notion. In such elections, the two sides caused a parody of the other in their minds–there wasnt the necessary a better understanding and cross-pollination, responds David Axelrod, former manager strategist for Obamas presidential campaigns. On his own podcast, The Axe Files , he has had the talks with beings across the political spectrum, from Karl Rove to DeRay Mckesson, and be available to do so more throughout a Trump administration. In a republic, we have to be able to hear one another, even if we contend, Axelrod answers. We have to hear a multiplicity of voices.

During the election, podcasts provisioned a flexible format for beings with same faiths to have casual, unscripted dialogues about politics. Radicals did so on a slew of podcasts: Political Gabfest, Keepin It 1600, Trumpcast, The Weeds, The Run-Up . Conservative did it, extremely, like on The Ricochet Podcast , hosted by two National Review contributors and one former Reagan speechwriter. Every week was a dispute about Trump, from parties on the right who are pro and anti, responds Ricochet CEO Scott Immergut. But not anti-Trump people on the left. We dont need to do that. The Ricochet podcast system offered a different stray of political viewpoints–but not a wider one.

Post election, the Ricochet team is considering introducing radicals onto their podcasts. If such elections substantiates nothing else, it testifies that we are a bifurcated country, speaks Immergut. Beings tend to listen to stuffs that support their point of view, but thats how we end up with ballots like this. Podcasts give a direction send, a way to understand our country through frankfurter, difficult communications. Two weeks ago, Rob Long, a Ricochet host and never-Trumper, talked to Ira Glass about reconciling Reagan Republicanism with Trump on This American Life ; now, parties on the left and beings in Trumps right need to talk, too.

Podcasts volunteer a flexible, intimate format for Americans to have respectful, strange conversations with each other–unless we only use them to talk to ourselves. Over the next four years, both republicans and radicals will be talking about politics, and has progressed, they need to find cavities to talk to each other. We have to get beyond training exercises in sloganeering, to continue longform and search something in-depth, Axelrod says. Podcasts can fulfill that role. Or at the least, they can provide a template. To actually move forward as a society, were going to have to take out the earbuds and have those gossips ourselves.

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