If you don’t have a daily news podcast then you are just not in the news game these days. Two significant offerings launched in the UK last week, Today in Focus from The Guardian, and an off shoot from the Radio 4 Today programme called Beyond Today. (You don’t have to have Today in the title). Adam Bowie has written a good piece about both here. Everybody is chasing The Daily from the New York Times, which has become, deservedly, the industry standard. If you have not heard it, a recent programme on the controversial return of Louis CK is a good starting point. The Daily has helped power the newspaper to $24 million dollars of digital profit.
But the one I have been most interested in, is Front Burner, a new daily podcast from CBC Radio in Canada which also launched last week. The dictionary definition of Front Burner is the condition of being in active consideration or development: a position of priority, usually used in the phrase ‘on the front burner’
If you don’t listen to much from CBC, you should know they have quietly become a major player in orginal podcasts, with 16 million downloads a month.
Front Burner is itself fronted by Jayme Poisson in a very casual news presentation style that seems to be employed across all of the daily news pods to good effect. Although it’s interesting that CBC have hired an investigative reporter from the Toronto Star to present this rather than tapping someone in-house. Maybe some of these daily news podcasts end up working so well because the hosts are not radio veterans and bring a different approach.
The content however is a little different from the shows mentioned above. So while there’s has been a programme on the migrant ‘caravan’ which has received much attention, the best shows have been Canadian flavoured. The most recent show on the impact of Chinese money in Vancouver, which has resulted in so many empty homes bought for investment purposes, is a fascinating listen. The Chinese are investing anonymously and avoiding paying tax in either jurisdiction.
In the last week there has been a programme on Calgarys bid for the Winter Olympics which has met with a great deal of opposition as well as an in-depth look at Gab, the social network used by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter.
These new podcasts all seem to be attempting to be an alternative ‘front page’ on the news, tapping more into topics from the social web. Beyond Today provides a different lead story to that on the regular Today show. Front Burner is looking to do something different to the daily CBC news show The Current, also available as a podcast. Whether there is room for all of these shows, and whether or not any of them can get close to The Daily remains to be seen. The challenge for all is to reach that magic audience of under 35s that don’t necessarily listen to linear radio but are consuming podcasts, the BBC estimates there are two million in the UK alone. At just fifteen minutes or so, that’s likely to put Front Burner in a strong position for Canadian ears and also quite a few further afield.