Pod Save America[h]

Pod Save America is a political commentary podcast that brands itself as a “no-bullshit conversation about politics.” Developed and produced under Crooked Media, its origins are explained to be a direct result of the general hysteria/confusion in the media following the election of Donald Trump to the American Presidency in 2016. One of its enduring trademarks revolves around the active encouragement of listeners to participate in politics through certain ways or means, be that contacting their respective representatives, attending a certain event etc. While the hosts, Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor have candid reflections with Pod Save America’s audiences, these interactions could potentially be seen as poor journalistic practices if done by other news media. But, their commentary and activism provides fresh analysis that is likely one of the determining factors for their rapid growth as a news aggregator.

Jon Favreau, Jon Lovett, Dan Pfeiffer and Tommy Vietor

While the Pod Save America was originally a lone provider of news content/commentary, there are now 13 other podcasts produced by Crooked Media. Some of these shows like the new ‘What a Day‘ with hosts Akilah Hughes and reporter Gideon Resnick feature only ten episodes so far due to it’s recent creation while the original Pod Save America features 334. The brand of Crooked Media is growing strong and growing fast- it’s likely here to stay.

Crooked Media’s success is also in alignment of the general podcast industry. From a study that was tabulated by Statista Research, study respondents showed that the average amount of American podcast listeners grew from just 11% in 2006, to 40% in 2017. This striking increase could be too a number of factors, but many researches explain that one of the most foundational reasons for industries growth is due to the accessibility of podcasts in general.

For example, Pod Save America is a podcast and is not a radio broadcast, which allows users to ‘tune in’ whenever they want. This affordance is described in Richard Berry’s 2016 paper “Podcasting: considering the evolution of the medium and its association with the word ‘radio’” in which he writes:

“[R]adio is largely an inattentive medium, one that understands that listeners multitask. It could be that a combination of the dominance of speech in podcasting and nature of the medium as self-selected experience based on niche experiences almost demands that podcast listening is both theoretically and actually different from radio listening, especially music radio. Mia Lindgren furthers this and suggests that, as a platform, podcasting is highly advantageous for creative producers as work ‘can be sought out, returned to, listened to more than once’ (2014: 75), which may motivate producers to develop more nuanced and crafted productions. Pg. 13

While there are certainly the differences in medium between radio broadcasts and podcasts, differences in audience expectations/usage as Berry expands upon, perhaps the most defining reasons Pod Save America is a podcast is because of money!

Typically, for a group of individuals like Favreau, Lovett, Pfeiffer and Vietor to start their own radio station, they would be expecting expenses to rack up in the thousands annually just in operation of their radio station. Compared to starting a podcast, there is a much great accessibility for the creator to start their channel with low startup costs– one could achieve a professional sounding episodes well under an upfront cost of $100.00.

While there are likely to be savings/hidden expenses for both individuals starting a radio show or podcast, the manner in which Favreau, Lovett, Pfeiffer and Vietor have created their niche ‘no bs’ conversation regarding American politics is a beacon of light for other creators hoping to crack the code of how to get their voice heard. Regardless of the likely many reasons for the founders of Crooked Media deciding to go along the route of podcasting rather than radio, they have done so in an explosive fashion that should impress anyone regardless of the political background.

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