The Daily isn’t really daily. It only publishes five days a week. In fact most of the news-driven podcasts don't release episodes seven days a week. NPR is now taking a step in that direction, expanding its morning news podcast Up First to Saturdays. The public radio network is leveraging the team it has in place for the “Weekend Edition” broadcast. NPR says the expansion of Up First is the latest part of its commitment to provide short-form audio that listeners can easily fit into their daily routines.
"We're delighted that Up First has become an essential part of the morning for so many people," said Sarah Gilbert, VP for News Programming at NPR. "Those listeners, many of them new to the NPR brand, have been asking us for Up First on the weekend - and we're pleased to start publishing it."
The Saturday edition will run 10 minutes or less and be available by 8am ET beginning Nov. 9. It will be co-hosted by Scott Simon, who hosts “Weekend Edition: Saturday,” and Lulu Garcia-Navarro, the host of “Weekend Edition: Sunday.”
"Lulu and Scott are bringing the same curiosity, empathy, and humor that Weekend Edition listeners love to Up First, and I can't wait until the podcast audience gets to know them better," said Sarah Oliver, executive producer of Weekend Edition. NPR hasn’t said whether it is exploring publishing the podcast on Sundays.
Podtrac says Up First is consistently one of the most listened to podcasts, ranking No. 4 in September. NPR says its internal data shows Up First listeners have a median age of 32. The audience survey also showed 15% of Up First’s audience doesn’t listen to any other NPR programming.
NPR recently expanded the release schedule of another of its shows. The NPR Politics Podcast is now publishing each weekday afternoon through Election Day 2020.The show will run about 15 minutes and include a rundown of the day’s top political stories, interviews, quick analysis and some deep dives. It too has seen its audience build. Podtrac says the NPR Politics Podcast ranked No. 18 in September. NPR also launched a new daily science podcast called Short Wave.
"The range of offerings in different subject areas, across the day – and now our expansion into weekends – firmly establish NPR as the leading producer of daily on-demand audio," said Neal Carruth, NPR's Senior Director for On-Demand News Programming.
Among the handful of other seven day-a-week news podcasts is the Fox News Rundown. With podcast listening growing and more media companies investing resources in the medium, it’s likely to get more company than just the addition of NPR.