Two exits from PRX. John Barth, Chief Content Officer at PRX, is retiring at the end of this year, and Kerry Donahue, formerly director of training, has already left the organisation. Barth is a long time staffer — he joined in 2005 and helped to develop The Moth Radio Hour and Reveal among other shows — while Donahue was a more recent hire, having joined in 2018.
No word yet on a replacement in either role; indeed PRX may not have a Chief Content Officer again. “We’re going to take the next few months to explore how this role may evolve and then decide if we’re hiring a new chief content officer, or it may be that we evolve the role into something else,” a spokesperson has said.
It’s inevitable that the news of these departures will be read in the context of the problems at PRX over systemic racism, which came to public attention in August after a departing employee, Palace Shaw, wrote a letter laying out how the workplace had been hostile to her as a Black woman. (Refresh yourself on this full story with Nick’s report here, which includes a statement from Shaw and her permission to share the letter.) After that, PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman published this response in which she took responsibility, apologised and pledged to lead the organisation to be better.
The PRX Board of Directors also published a message to BIPOC Staff at PRX expressing similar intentions. As an aside, it’s worth noting, I think, that these missives prioritise learning from past mistakes and making public the results of an investigation into that situation led to Shaw’s departure, saying that this was expected around 18 September, although nothing has been published yet.
I should stress that there has been no public suggestion that the departures of Barth or Donahue are connected to the PRX’s ongoing efforts to improve or make amends for its treatment of BIPOC employees. However, when an organisation is trying to rebuild after a reckoning like this, it’s inevitable that all changes of management will inform the wider perception of its future leadership. The choice of replacement and the potential reconfigurations of these roles will matter a good deal in what PRX decides to become next.New host for Reply All. In its latest episode, the Gimlet show has announced that it is adding a third co-host. Producer Emmanuel Dzotsi has been promoted to on mic duties alongside PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman. Born in England and raised in Ohio — one of the popular search results alongside his name, I note, is “Why does Emmanuel have British accent?” and now you know — Dzotsi has previously worked on This American Life and co-hosted the third season of Serial. You can read an interview that Nick did for Vulture with him back in 2018 about that latter role.
While Dzotsi has been popping up as a producer on Reply All for a long time, listeners to that show might be most familiar with his reporting and hosting work from the three part story “The Real Enemy” about internal divisions in Alabama’s Democratic Party, which dropped in December 2019.iHeartMedia gets into kids’ programming. The corporation is following the trend of the last few years and delving into audio aimed at younger listeners (which, let us not forget, was doing pretty well earlier this year as an overall genre). The first show to be launched from them is The Ten News, a twice weekly current affairs podcast aimed at those aged 8-12.
It’s hosted by comedian and Moth contributor Bethany Van Delft, produced by Small But Mighty Media and Next Chapter Podcasts and distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. As well as providing news updates, the aim of the show is to “highlight stories from kids who are driving positive change around the world,” the announcement says.Can NPR learn from the BBC and RTÉ? That’s the suggestion in this extract from a new book about “radio’s second century”, which despite the fact that it includes a couple of inaccuracies about the precise nature of the BBC license fee, I found to be an interesting read. This section is focused partly on what NPR could learn from BBC Radio 2’s The Jeremy Vine Show, a week day lunchtime news, phone in and music show, in terms of offering something mainstream with an “affable, unassuming tone and broad subject matter”. I recommend reading the article in full.Employees at MPR and APM call for change. Workers at Minnesota Public Radio and American Public Media Group have put together this website documenting their efforts to transform the organisation’s record on gender equity and anti racism. A reminder: Jon McTaggart, CEO of Minnesota Public Radio’s parent organisation, said last week that he has “set in motion plans to step down”.
Related: staffers at two of Minnesota Public Radio’s Twin Cities music stations, The Current and Classical MPR, are seeking to unionise.Google Podcasts creator program participants announced. The 20 teams taking part in this year’s Google Podcasts creator programme (run in partnership with PRX, see above) have been announced. They come from 11 different countries including Brazil, Canada and Turkey, and make audio in six different languages. One point that stood out to me: 8 of the 20 had apparently applied unsuccessfully to previous rounds of the program.Design Matters joins TED. TED has announced details of its fall podcast slate, and there’s a couple of notable nuggets in there.
Firstly, the extremely longrunning show Design Matters, hosted by Debbie Millman, is joining the TED line up. It began life as an “internet talk radio show” in 2005, and claims to be “the first and longest running podcast about design”.
Secondly, TED’s Sincerely, X becomes the latest show to come out from behind the Luminary paywall. The ten episodes of its second season will be available on all podcast platforms and it begins release on 22 October.Three more things to note:
(1) Spotify has announced nine exclusives in the Philippines, including one that is an ASMR show designed to help listeners sleep.
(2) By Stephanie Foo: “Guess I Gotta Write This Goddamn Diversity Article Again”.
(3) Where are all the podcast critics? Already here, Galen Beebe argues.