this american life

Is fandom the future? Orlando Jones and Veronica Mars think so

Accurately predicting where entertainment’s heading might be impossible, but trends and patterns are definitely emerging. The biggest one to arise: The power of fandom in driving the popularity of content.

Next on ‘This American Life’: The End of a 17-Year Distribution Deal



This American Life won’t be on Public Radio International anymore, but Ira Glass’ popular anthology program will be … somewhere. Eventually.

After a 17-year-run that redefined Saturday afternoon for millions of listeners, the distribution agreement will terminate this summer, PRI announced Thursday.

“During our most recent negotiation, it became clear that our organizations’ expectations regarding our futures were different,” PRI executive Julia Yager said in a statement to Variety.

SEE ALSO: Will Public Radio Survive Music Streaming Apps?

PRI didn’t say where This American Life — still one of the most downloaded podcasts in the U.S. — would be going. Nor did the show, which made very clear on Twitter that it would stay on the air Read more…

More about This American Life, Entertainment, Public Radio, and Ira Glass

Podcasts I Listen To

What’s on my podcast playlist? Here are my favorites. (Got your own questions for the show? Ask ‘em here!)   Hey again, Michelle MacPhearson here! It’s another episode of the Michelle MacPhearson show. And in today’s episode, I’m going to talk to you about podcasts. You probably, since you’re watching this, know that I do a podcast. There’s this one, and I also do another one with Justine Brooke called Marketing Con Queso where it’s  he and I going back and forth about marketing topics and giving our opinions – which do not always line up. Podcasts are a great vehicle to get your message out to an audience. There’s something very different about people reading a blog post versus people hearing your tone and inflection, and knowing you at a much more intimate level when they can hear your voice. Podcasts are an important tool in your marketing kit. I wanted to share with you some of my favorite podcasts that I actually listen to. I’ve been asked before what I think the best ones are. I don’t know about the best but I’ll give you the ones that hold my attention. So on the non-business side of things; I’ll get those out of the way first. I have Welcome to Night Vale which I enjoy listening to with my 7-year-old because it’s kind of creepy and spooky and weird, and he likes that. I also listen to Roderick on the Line which is hysterical because John Roderick  is a male Alaskan-born counterpart of me. So there’s that. I listen to This American Life for it’s good story telling. I listen to The Moth, which has the same thing, good story telling. Those are the ones that are purely for enjoyment. On the business side of things, I listen to The Dave Ramsey Show. I consider that to be something that I listen to more on the business side because I really love his model of a call-in Q&A show. That’s one of the things that we do here too with the Michelle MacPhearson show, is actually take your calls via the plugin at You can call in, you can ask a question and then I can respond to that. So I really love how he does that and that is where I would like to get eventually is to where we can do something live like that from time to time. And I think his way of giving advice but being able to put it into actionable nuggets, is a really great skill for anybody in information marketing or advice-giving or blog post writing business like we’re in to make the content that we create actionable and simple. So that it’s easy for people to grasp on to. So I admire what he does in that area. That’s a business podcast that I listen to. I also listen to the School of Greatness. That is Lewis Howes, formerly of “how to use LinkedIn” fame, he has now branched out into an overall “business success” kind of brand. I was kind of like, “Eh,”, when I heard he was coming out with the podcast, but when I started listening to it, I actually think that it’s one of the best business, inspiring, motivational, Q&A type of interview shows out there because he asked a lot of questions that other folks are afraid to ask, and because he brings in a different kind of guest. So it isn’t the normal circle jerk of internet marketing folks, all being on each other shows, that is a self-perpetuating machine. He doesn’t always pull guests from that crowd. And I really appreciate that and enjoy his show because of that. I also listen to the Bulletproof Executive Radio. I listen to about half of their shows. I think that the show is good. It’s a good example of having a few things that are your principles – like his Bulletproof coffee, and like you don’t eat this, and you do, do this. And reminding your audience of those principles, time and time and time and time again, every single week. I think that show comes out twice a week. Even when you disagree with your guests, as he does from time to time about certain topics, he doesn’t play nice with it. Like, “well, I mean, you know, okay we can both agree to disagree.” He’s not mean about it by any means. But he sticks to his principles. He has again, kind of like Dave Ramsey with those nuggets of things that say, “this is how we do things.” Building a brand, building an audience, building a community around those kinds of tribal messages is super powerful. So I enjoy listening to his show because of that. And then also, health and wellness is a topic that personally interests me. So we got both sides on that. Let’s see what else I’ve got. Back to Work, classic Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin, talking about productivity, communication, organization, fear, anxiety, depression. They actually range topics from very practical kinds of stuff, how to organize your iTunes to those deeper things that I mentioned. Merlin Mann can get a little bit self-indulgent from time to time. But gosh! I just love Dan Benjamin. I stopped listening to the show for a while because I was like, “Merlin, I’ve had enough of you.” But I came back because I wanted to listen to Dan. So it’s a good show, in the end, to remind you to focus on the things that are important to you, to stop wasting time with the noise, and get down to what actually produces results in your business. So I do enjoy it for that but I also enjoy the camaraderie between the two hosts. I listen to James Schramko, SuperFast Business podcast. I became a member of James’ Mastermind, the Silver Circle, once I decided to take my business from being sort of a one-man band plus an [...]

The post Podcasts I Listen To appeared first on Michelle MacPhearson.

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #186

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, Solve For Interesting, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth: Deploying QOS in Enterprise Networks and Lean Analytics), Hugh McGuire (PressBooks, LibriVox, iambik and co-author of Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto) and I decided that every week the three of us are going to share one link for one another (for a total of six links) that each individual feels the other person “must see”.

Check out these six links that we’re recommending to one another:

  • When tech culture and urbanism collide – Ascent Stage. “This year’s International Startup Festival‘s theme is, The City and the Startup, and we’ve been looking for relevant content. This piece by John Tolva argues that tech companies are bad urbanists, and that the old myth of a company ‘started in a garage’ suggests a suburban bias, even as tech titans live in cities like San Francisco.” (Alistair for Hugh).
  • 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World – A Sheep No More. “I’m a visual thinker, so I love maps. And here’s a great resource: forty maps of the world that help you understand a variety of topics. Knowing where Google street view is available tells you a lot about the world’s economies; seeing the only 22 countries that Britain didn’t invade reminds us of how far the empire once reached; and so on.” (Alistair for Mitch).
  • The Darkest Place on the Internet Isn’t Just for Criminals – Wired. “Now that we know that everything we do on the internet is watched by government spies as well as the all-knowing eyes of Google and Amazon, it might be time to start taking privacy seriously.” (Hugh for Alistair).
  • A Glimpse Into The Future of NPR, From It’s First-Ever Creative Director – Fast Company. “I’m a bit of a ‘radio’ junkie, or anyway, an ‘audio’ junkie, since I do almost all my listening to podcasts these days (using the Stitcher app, mostly). It turns out that most of the ‘podcasts’ I love are public radio shows from around the world: BBC, Australia Radio National, and NPR. And most of the best stuff these days is coming from National Public Radio, NPR. In the early days of podcasting, NPR really jumped in with two feet. They have continued to build not just an impressive network of ‘radio’ shows, but a lot of stuff tailored to modern, web-connected podcasty listeners: shows like This American Life, RadioLab, On The Media, Bullseye, and 99% Invisible. What’s in store for NPR in the next few years? Read about its new Creative Director, Liz Danzico, and what she’s got in mind for our ears. (As a sad sidenote, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, once a source of much tasty audio, has declined to the point that it is hardly recognizable).” (Hugh for Mitch).
  • How to Build a Productive Tech Economy – The Atlantic. The Atlantic has an amazing online property called, The Atlantic Cities, that focuses on urban centers and the evolving world and the cities that we live in. This article by Richard Florida (who is the author of The Rise Of The Creative Class, along with many others) looks at cities and their real abilities to turn themselves into a technology hub. We often head mayors and other leaders talk about the need for their cities ad states to become ‘the next Silicon Valley.’ Well, Florida has some data and thoughts on what is (and what is not) possible…” (Mitch for Alistair).
  • TED isn’t a recipe for ‘civilisational disaster’ – The Guardian. “There is a very persuasive TEDx talk that is making the rounds titled, New perspectives – what’s wrong with TED talks?, that is also an article in The Guardian titled, We Need To Talk About TED, by Benjamin Bratton. I can understand Bratton (and others) perspective, but I just don’t agree with it. The fact is that I have been going to TED for many years and believe (without sounding all snooty about it), that it’s hard to understand what the event is like until you attend it. I often tell people that the TED Talks (which is what everyone talks about online and watches) account for, probably, five percent of the whole TED experience. It’s easy to sit back, watch an 18-minute talk and wonder what that is going to do to truly change the world or solve some of our very real problems, but I thought that TED’s curator, Chris Anderson, did a great job of trying to explain to the masses what the conference is really about. For my dollar, no other event has inspired me more. From business success to community involvement and more, I learn so much at each event that I can’t imagine having a successful year with TED not being a part of it.” (Mitch for Hugh).

Now it’s your turn: in the comment section below pick one thing that you saw this week that inspired you and share it.


Great Storytelling – Lessons From Ira Glass

Great storytelling is a lot of very hard work.

It’s sad that so many individuals (and this includes marketing professionals) feel that there is either a story to tell or that there isn’t. This isn’t always true. A germ of an idea does not a story make, and turning on a microphone and hoping that someone with a story to tell will now know how to tell it in a compelling way is also false. Great storytelling is a ton of heavy lifting. Brands claim that they need to get better at storytelling, and yet so few of them put in the time, allocate the resources, or even understand the intricacies and sweating over details that is required to get to a place where something becomes a great story.

There are people who are master storytellers. 

Ira Glass  is one of those masters. He is the award-winning host and executive producer of the documentary radio program, This American Life (produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International). The program began in 1995 and is now heard on over 500 public radio stations each week, by more than three million people, and is downloaded as a podcast more than close to one million times weekly. The show is all about storytelling… and it is a sight to behold (and to be listened to). Glass recently sat down with Googler, Logan Ury, to discuss his favorite episodes, his thoughts on technology, and how hard it is to create an amazing story. This Talks At Google is brand new (it was published two days ago) and it’s very worthy of the hour that you will spend with it.

Spend an hour with one of the world’s best storytellers…


Discovery Problem: Why It’s So Hard to Find New Podcasts



Podcasts have a serious discovery problem.

As a medium, it’s hot right now. It’s building loyal and potentially lucrative communities around niche topics. Independent producers are finding success, fame and even a little money. But as a technology and an industry, podcasting has failed at connecting people with content in a dynamic and efficient way. There’s no Spotify for podcasting.

When it comes to podcasts, people are just lost. They don’t know where to start

Late this summer, a party-crashing podcast appeared. After about a year of modest growth, Welcome to Night Vale suddenly unseated This American Life from the No. 1 spot in iTunes’ Top 10 List. For a virtual unknown like Night Vale, this is a huge accomplishment Read more…

More about Podcast, Podcasting, Itunes, Podcasting Failure, and This American Life

Pandora for podcasts app Swell raises $5.4 million Series A round

Swell, the app that lets you discover and listen to new podcasts, is announcing on Thursday that it’s raised a Series A funding round.

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #141

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring, Managing Bandwidth:…

Why Mike Daisey isn’t done apologizing for his lies

Nine days after monologist Mike Daisey was exposed as a fabulist, a man who manufactured personal stories about Apple’s supply chain in China in hopes of selling a message and theater tickets, he finally apologized for his actions. He once again left out a key detail.

“This American Life” says report on Apple labor “partially fabricated”

The radio program This American Life on Friday said that it is retracting a previous episode of the show, in which monologist Mike Daisey described the working conditions in factories in China that produce Apple devices, saying it “was partially fabricated.”

Six Links Worthy Of Your Attention #89

Is there one link, story, picture or thought that you saw online this week that you think somebody you know must see?

My friends: Alistair Croll (BitCurrent, Year One Labs, GigaOM, Human 2.0, the author of Complete Web Monitoring and Managing Bandwid…