Public radio shows like This American Life and Planet Money have become some of the most listened-to podcasts as on-demand broadcast content has appealed to podcast consumers. But just as podcasts have become proving ground for television show concepts, they are also demonstrating how an idea can move from the drawing board to the radio airwaves.
NPR says two of its breakout podcasts’ success stories this year will become radio shows in 2021. Beginning January 15, the podcast Throughline will be translated into a broadcast show. The podcast, hosted by Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, each week uses history to understand modern day events and help put what is making the news into context. The move means the podcast that has had a variety of lengths will become standardized as NPR creates an hour-long program for broadcast including a billboard, a standard news hole, and two local breaks in the middle. NPR has shared affiliates a radio version of the “How We Vote” episode to give programmers feel for what the show will sound like on air.
The second NPR podcast coming to radio is Code Switch. The focus on racial justice has made the show hosted by Shereen Marisol Meraji and Gene Demby one of the year’s most buzzworthy podcasts. Code Switch features conversations about race, including how it impacts all parts of society – from politics and pop culture to history, sports and everything in between. Because Code Switch episodes are typically less than an hour, NPR says it will pair the podcast with other NPR content to make a complete show for broadcast. The network expects to begin distributing a radio version of Code Switch in the spring.
“These programs have succeeded as podcasts, and we’ve heard from many of you that you’re interested in sharing them with your radio listeners,” wrote Andrew Haden, Senior Manager for Business Partners in the Member Partnership division, in a memo to affiliates. “As NPR continues to prioritize our efforts to reflect and serve all communities, we believe both shows will tell some of our nation’s most important stories and provide programming for your audiences that is relevant and engaging.”