I love a good story and believe everyone has one to tell.

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Getting ready to record a podcast episode in the studio in the Before Times.

I’ve resisted writing about myself for as long as I can remember. As a journalist and now as a podcaster, I’m much more comfortable on the other side of the interview, so to speak. But, thanks to the invitation from Quy Ma, here goes:

Some of my earliest memories as a child are of my dad reading to me at night. The love of reading grew quickly from there and, by the time I got to school, it didn’t take long for me to read every book in my kindergarten classroom. …

Advice from a full-time podcast booker

Mariah Dwyer, a full-time podcast booker.
Mariah Dwyer, a full-time podcast booker.
Mariah Dwyer is a full-time podcast booker at Fortier Public Relations. Photo by Mark Fortier

Podcasts provide a great opportunity for hosts and guests to work together toward a shared promotional goal. If done correctly, it’s a win-win for everyone — a guest promotes an episode to hopefully bring new listeners to the podcast in exchange for free publicity for their book, course, product, or whatever it is they’re trying to promote.

When you hear a great podcast/guest combination, it might sound like it’s kismet or happenstance, but chances are, there’s someone like Mariah Dwyer behind the scenes making those magic connections happen.

I worked with Dwyer, a podcast booker at Fortier Public Relations, on securing a guest for my show and, when I saw that she was a full-time podcast publicist, I knew I had to ask her a little more about what podcasters and guests can learn from one another. …

At what point are we all just shouting into the void?

Graphic of a Venn diagram showing the benefits of podcast cross-promotion for acquiring new listeners.
Graphic of a Venn diagram showing the benefits of podcast cross-promotion for acquiring new listeners.

Cross-promotion is huge in the podcast world. The standard advice goes that the best way to find new listeners is to reach them where they are — in their podcast apps.

With more than one million podcasts in the world, the market for cross-promotion has never been bigger. However, there are a few bigger questions to consider as more and more podcasters adopt it as part of their marketing strategies:

1. How can you find the right cross-promotional partner?

2. At what point are we all shouting into the void, and how can you avoid it?

I don’t have complete answers to either of these questions, but I think it’s imperative that podcasters work together to find them. I’ll share what I’ve learned from my own experience and conversations I’ve had with others in the industry. …

From Hawaii to North Carolina, local news organizations are finding that podcasts may help build new connections with their communities.

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Santa Cruz, California faced a big decision earlier this summer: renovate its existing library in the city’s downtown, or build something new, just outside the city. Although it was a decision that would impact many of the city’s residents, with so many other competing headlines, it was challenging for the story to break through, so Santa Cruz Local, a nonprofit news organization in the city, used a podcast episode to deliver the news.

The State of Local News

If you’ve been following any coverage of the local media landscape for the past ten years, you’ll know that it’s bleak. More than a quarter of the country’s local news outlets closed in the last two decades, with at least 30 more joining those ranks as a result of the coronavirus. These closures leave behind “news deserts,” or communities without a local reporting. And while national outlets like The New York Times are adding more rural reporters to their teams, it’s not the same as having someone who lives in a community cover what’s happening there, full-time. …

A case study from Yale’s admissions office

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Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

I worked in college admissions for seven years before starting my current role as a podcaster. During that time, I frequently fielded questions from parents at parties and family events about how to complete their son or daughter’s application, apply for financial aid, or prepare for the SAT or ACT.

Mark Dunn of Yale’s admissions office received similar questions and how he has a solution — he can send them a link to his podcast.

A look behind the scenes.

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Singer-songwriter Mark Erelli performs during the Signature Sounds Parlor Room Home Sessions

Let’s face it — a livestream will never replace the feeling of seeing your favorite band in a bar, theater, or even a stadium.

While big-name artists can afford to wait out COVID-19 before getting back on the road, indie bands and their record labels are adapting quickly to the new reality. And they’re figuring out how to make it a sustainable part of an artist’s operation for the months ahead.

Along the way, they’re learning more about their fans and themselves when the energy of a live show is stripped away. How long will it last?

No one knows for sure, but artists are making the best of the current moment while putting structures in place to make streaming viable for the long haul. …

When listeners look forward to their Monday commute, it’s a good sign

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Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Note: This article was written with organizations in mind, but much of the information applies to independent podcasters and entrepreneurs.

How often do you check your podcast downloads? Once a week? Once a day? Once an hour? If you’re like me, the frequency is probably more than you care to admit.

It can be frustrating to see a slow uptick or stagnation after you’ve been doing your show for a little while and putting in the time and energy to promote it.

As you may know, the median number of downloads per episode is only around 140 after 30–45 days, according to Libsyn’s The Feed podcast. Given that half of all podcasts never get above this number on average, what’s the point of investing the time, money, and creative capital into producing one? …

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I spend a lot of time thinking about podcasting in higher education. I host and produce a podcast at Penn State and write a newsletter for podcasters and soon-to-be podcasters at colleges and universities.

Last year, I wrote about some of the big trends that higher ed would bring to podcasting in 2019. Some came to fruition, but there’s still an untapped market when it comes to reaching alumni, students, and other audiences who are eager to learn and already listening to podcasts.

Here are a few thoughts on what 2020 might bring. …

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Kyle Hynes, winner of the Draw the Lines PA mapping competition and the Future Leader in Social Studies Award from the Pennsylvania Council for the Social Studies

Amid impeachment and increasingly hostile campaign rhetoric, it’s easy to feel down about the state of American democracy. I’m not here to offer solutions, but I do bring some hope for the future — in the form of a democracy wunderkind I recently had the chance to meet.

Kyle Hynes is a junior at State College Area High School and a true advocate for democracy. …

I originally put this list together for the excellent Hurt Your Brain newsletter by Erik Jones. Subscribe to receive recommendations like these about all kinds of topics in your inbox every other week.

Conspiracy theories are nothing new, but what is starting to change is how many people believe them, and how they are part of a growing rift in how we receive and share information. In academic terms, it’s called epistemic polarization. That sounds like a term that really hurts your brain, but it’s worth exploring.

Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that examines what it means for something to be true or false, accurate or inaccurate. Polarization means that someone’s stance on a given issue — or in this case, where they get their information about it — is closely tied to their political identity. …


Jenna Spinelle

Writer, podcaster, and speaker in higher education. I love a good story and believe that everyone has one to tell.

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