Guesting on episode 72 of The Wolf Den podcast, Time columnist and writer Joel Stein joked that he was working on a “podcast about podcasts about podcasts.” But host Adam Sachs pressed him on if he’ll have his own podcast.
Joel said it’s not inevitable, though, he quipped, “it’s probable that everyone in America will soon have a podcast.”
More seriously, he observed that, “there’s a lot of room for newsier podcasts,” such as Planet Money, This American Life, and Serial. Moreover, Joel also thinks there is an opportunity for news-based shows that tend towards the ephemeral, “that maybe don’t last the whole week.” They could include discussion “that gets at the news of the week,” but in a more humorous or irreverent way than a Meet The Press or NPR news program.
Adam asked what he would do if he were in charge of a podcasting initiative at, say, a publication like the New York Times.
“I would tap their expertise,” Joel said. Many of their writers are both knowledgable and have access of the sort that he experienced working at Time.
“When I first got there… every Thanksgiving for three or four years I would call powerful senators, cabinet members, actors and athletes and ask them to trace their hand like a turkey and draw a turkey on it,” he explained.
“What I loved was, we have the access to make powerful people do stupid things. And that’s what these places have, they can amass people (and) connect people in these incredible ways. And I think that I would be very into exploiting that for a podcast.”
One idea Joel proposes is to follow in the model of The Dick Cavett Show, “to get people who shouldn’t be in a room together to talk to each other.”
Listen to the whole interview to find out what the next five years hold for podcasting, and learn why he resisted listening to Serial for a long time.