LAist Studios relaunches Imperfect Paradise as weekly podcast and radio program

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I’m writing to you today from Podcast Movement in Colorado — where I hope to meet many of you over the next few days. 

This morning kicked off with a discussion on the state of the podcasting industry hosted by Amplifi Media’s Steven Goldstein. Panelists included industry veterans such as Magnificent Noise’s Eric Nuzum, Lemonada Media’s Jessica Cordova Kramer, Workhouse Media CEO Paul Anderson, and Barometer CEO Tamara Zubatiy.

Some interesting insights from the panel:

  • Brand safety is a huge factor right now in the marketplace. “There’s never been more sensitivity than there is right now,” noted Anderson. It’s easier for advertisers to stick with a show with a proven track record of not offending advertisers. This is in clear conflict with how many creators view podcasts — as one of the last remaining mediums where they can speak freely. Not for long, I suppose.
  • Identifying your audience is crucial. Promoting your show on social media or signing on famous talent is useless if your show doesn’t identify an audience. “It’s not just about promotion,” said Nuzum. “If you’re spending all of your time identifying the talent — why don’t you spend time identifying your audience?”
  • Listeners have a more active relationship with podcasts than they do with TV. Take this with a grain of salt since it’s coming from someone in the podcast industry. But Workhouse Media’s Paul Anderson noted that podcast audiences are more dedicated and more likely to buy products recommended by hosts than their counterparts on TV.
  • AI will not replace you… unless you’re boring. Nuzum noted that while AI likely won’t be a threat to quality human audio programming — it’ll likely take out some low-quality efforts. Tamara Zubatiy urged creators to think of AI as a way to amplify their efforts in audio and augment their research — rather than as an attempt to replace themselves. For now, AI and podcasting are still in their very early days. She noted that her team had ChatGPT look up RSS links, only for the OpenAI to return a number of fake links.

I’ll be attending more events throughout the week, as well as hosting a panel on the power of a “multiplatform pipeline” in podcast production on Wednesday morning at 10:30AM MT. Panelists will include Paramount’s executive vice president of podcasts, Steve Raizes, LAist Studio’s Shana Krochmal, iHeartPodcasts Network president Will Pearson, as well as Netflix’s global podcast content lead, Rae Votta (who I know from a million years ago while we were both covering crazy internet stories as reporters at The Daily Dot). Should be a fun group!

Also, in case you missed it: Apple Podcasts rolled out a big subscription analytics update for creators, as well as a new partnership with Linkfire and an expansion of its Designated Delivery program. As I wrote for The Verge, more creators are relying on subscriptions as an alternative to ad revenue. Giving those creators any insights into their paid content beyond the customary download figure will be invaluable. In addition, Apple announced it will integrate its podcast analytics with Linkfire. This gives podcasters access to smart links to share episodes and other content — which in turn will let them measure engagement through number of anonymized visits, click-throughs, and click-through rates.

LAist relaunches Imperfect Paradise as weekly series to capture a bigger audience

Longform narrative audio journalism gets to live another day. Southern California Public Radio’s podcast group LAist Studios is reviving the investigative journalism limited series Imperfect Paradise as a weekly podcast and radio program, Hot Pod has learned. The show will be hosted by former LAist Studios executive producer Antonia Cereijido and focus on a new local story cycle every month. Topics will include a recent scandal involving the leaked racist audio of LA City Council members, a local strip club’s push to unionize, the problematic history of the members-only Hollywood magic club The Magic Castle, and others. 

The show’s distribution strategy is a good example of how much public radio — in an effort to reach today’s attention-deficit audience — has come around to embracing other platforms over the past decade. The show will publish as a podcast on Wednesdays and air on the LAist 89.3 radio station on Sundays. Select episodes of Imperfect Paradise, along with some other LAist Studios podcasts, will be distributed nationwide by American Public Media in the fall. Imperfect Paradise’s journalism will also appear in longform written stories on and across social media platforms.

“We have the flexibility where it makes sense to add or subtract from there.”

“The Studios team has been working closely with the LAist newsroom from the beginning of Imperfect Paradise, and a weekly format allows us to make that work more a regular part of our newsgathering work. The plan is to have four-episode story cycles — three narrative episodes, followed by one more conversational — although we have the flexibility where it makes sense to add or subtract from there,” Shana Naomi Krochmal, vice president of podcasts for LAist Studios, wrote in a statement to Hot Pod

The news of Imperfect Paradise’s relaunch arrives on the heels of a pretty grim summer for Southern California Public Radio. Roughly 10 percent of SCPR staff were laid off in June, which CEO Herb Scannell ascribed to a loss of advertising revenue. As a consequence, a number of short-run LAist Studio podcasts were canceled. How to LA and LA Report continue to launch new episodes. The revival of Imperfect Paradise as a weekly podcast and radio program may result in the show tapping into more consistent advertising revenue — as well as eliminating some of the coverage gaps due to its canceled short-run podcasts. 

The first episode of Imperfect Paradise launches on September 27th and will be available on all podcast players — and also air the following Sunday on LAist 89.3. You can listen to a trailer on either Apple or Spotify

Elsa is getting a podcast

The hit Disney franchise Frozen is being adapted for the audio space. ABC Audio and Walt Disney Animation Studios are teaming up to launch Frozen: Forces of Nature, a fiction podcast that will serve as an extension to the animated films. The 12-episode series is intended for children aged six through 12 years old and will be narrated by ABC News chief meteorologist Ginger Zee. 

“ABC Audio is thrilled to introduce the power of audio storytelling to a new generation through the Disney Frozen Podcast,” said Liz Alesse, vice president of ABC Audio, in a statement. “This immersive series created in partnership with Disney Publishing Worldwide and Walt Disney Animation Studios taps into listeners’ imagination and offers parents an engaging, screen-free experience to share with their children.”

Less screen time for kids certainly isn’t a bad thing — and seems to be a major reason why kids podcasts are growing in popularity. Here’s a description of the show from ABC Audio and Walt Disney Animation Studios:

Queen Anna has a lot on her plate — there are visitors in her Kingdom, a friend in need, and even the Duke of Weselton’s nephew skulking around — so when the Spirits of Nature start acting up, she knows she has to solve the problem — and fast — before things get more out of control. But when Anna and Elsa travel to the Enchanted Forest, they find mysterious copper machines that are disrupting the natural order of things. Who made these machines and what are they doing in the forest? And more importantly, how do Anna and Elsa stop them?

The first episode will launch sometime in October, but a specific date has not been announced yet.

Triton is integrating with YouTube

YouTube podcasts will now be integrated into Triton’s Podcast Metrics, meaning that publishers can now view metrics on their YouTube videos along with audio podcast episodes. The move is yet another sign that the mainstream podcast industry sees video podcasts as a serious part of their future — although audiences on the platform still gravitate toward YouTube-native podcasters.  

“YouTube’s influence on video podcasting is undeniably transformative and this integration marks a significant step forward for Triton Digital,” said Sharon Taylor, SVP Podcast Strategy & Product Operations, Triton Digital, in a statement. “We’re confident that this will revolutionize the way podcasters engage with their audience, opening up a world of possibilities for content monetization and audience growth. 

Publishers who use Podcast Metrics can compare downloads of their audio podcast to views of their video podcast on YouTube — all on the same interface. 

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