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I made today’s Boston Globe.

Check out the article here. They screwed up the link back here to Skepchick, but hopefully people will be able to figure it out. Clea, the reporter, got CPB on record as saying the process would take a few months, which is nice to hear. Before, the only hint I had was that the decision would be made some time in “the new year.”

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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19 Comments

  1. It was interesting to hear that it would cost $20,000 an episode. That seems to really illustrate either the inefficiencies of or the bloating of costs involved with traditional radio. Sure, the pilot was pretty high quality, but there are podcasts out there that are just as good that are done with a much lower budget.

  2. Hmm, well, the biggest cost in producing radio shows, regardless of the station, is the cost of the host, who usually makes their living off the show. If Rebecca were to get offered the chance to do this full time, the cost would skyrocket because it would become her primary source of income. If you listen to a show like Radio Lab, they also hire some freelance producers for pieces (a big time saver) and travel across the country for interviews. The cost seems appropriate to me.

  3. Paul, she says, advised her she would need "a ballpark $20,000 a show," which could come from another source, including sponsorship by an individual station. Even if the money is not forthcoming, says Watson, "I'd like to keep going, turn it into a podcast."

    Why do I think it wouldn't cost $20,000 an episode to produce a podcast?

    Oh, you've already been discussing this….

  4. Well, I'm glad the popular vote is what got our Rebecca in the running. Stupid judges probably would have snapped up a John Edwards or a Sylvia Browne in a trice.

    It just makes me a bit more hopeful that there are still a significant number of sane and rational people left in America.

    (But I'm a bit annoyed that WGBH won't air the show at a decent time. Midnight? Pur-leeze!

  5. Same comment as a few people above – $20K per ep? Staggering. Either I have little understanding of the cost involved, or it's an efficient use of money. Did the first episode cost the full $10K (with or without alcoholic costs)? How much does a Skeptics Guide episode cost…?

    Either way, whoo-hoo that this is gaining steam. We're all really hoping this will get picked up regularly.

  6. If it's really for host salary, I am going to switch my job! I actually couldn't because I don't think I have a good radio voice, and I still have remnants of my NY accent. Rebecca on the other hand, sounds fantastic and totally professional. I was definitely impressed when I listened to the pilot.

  7. Since that $20,000 figure came from me, I feel like I should explain what I was talking about. As aston14 suggested, the primary cost is the salaries of the people involved — in the case of "Curiosity Aroused," the host, the producer and the person who mixed the show. It's true that if everyone did this as a hobby, it wouldn't cost anywhere near $20,000. It would cost more like $500. In fact for the pilot, Rebecca got a number of people to volunteer and work for nothing. But if the show was done on a regular basis, I don't think she would want to infringe on their friendship by asking them to keep working for free over and over again. So yes, if everyone worked for nothing, the show would cost much less than $20,000.

    The other cost involved is paying for studios where guests are interviewed. Now I know a lot of people will say, "Well why don't you just use Skype?" In fact, this is a conversation that Rebecca and I had the very first time we talked about the show. If you'd like to hear the difference between an interview done over Skype and an interview done in a studio; when you listen to the "Curiosity Aroused" pilot, listened to the two clips of Perry in the segment about the psychic fair. Then compare those with the sound of everyone who was interviewed during the program. You will hear that Perry sounds too loud, over modulated, compressed and overall not up to the standards that people expect to hear on public radio.

    I hope that explains it.

    Richard Paul

  8. Thanks Richard. I think this is why ultimately radio will die and the internet will completely take over. I know quality is important, but only to a certain level. I haven't turned on a radio in a decade. But I listen to podcasts all the time. I watch video casts, too, and obviously read blogs. I read very few magazines. I am probably not typical for my age (45), but I bet that this is typical behavior for people younger than me. I predict a lot of traditional media to die out with the boomers (I don't like to think of myself as a boomer, but according to some definitions I am on the edge).

    For traditional production quality, I still love books and movies.

    Well, I am tempted to write a long post about this, but you probably get the point and I have a to do list for the day that doesn't include writing long blog comments. :-)

    Donna

  9. Donna, as I said the primary cost issue is salaries, not audio quality. If everyone worked on "Curiosity Aroused" for free, the show would cost between $200-$500 per episode. The money would go to pay for the increased audio quality. When you say "I think this is why ultimately radio will die and the internet will completely take over," do you mean it will die because the people who work in it need to be paid? If that's what you mean, I think you're right. All media that operate on the basis of the "Gift Economy" will cost less to operate than media that need to pay people in order to continue.

    Richard

  10. Well, I'm all for salaries! :-) I guess I read your previous post too quickly and got fixated on your comment about Skype. As a writer, I certainly think people should be paid for their work. (Even though I write here for free.)

    What I meant was, people can and do produce some very high quality material for very low cost and put it online. As a listener, I don't make my choices of what to listen to based on production cost. But rather the convenience of access, my cost, and content. So if more people do this for a hobby or side project, not for a job, then I'll probably end up listening to more content that is produced by unpaid talent.

    I can't really say that's a good thing. But I do think that's what will happen. Frankly I think it's sad that we don't value those who do creative work. In fact, I end up doing a lot more unpaid work than I should because I find that I want to reach specific audiences.

    I also am averse to watching or listening to ads, but have no better idea of how to pay for these things because I don't want to pay to get on a website or to subscribe to radio either. I can easily ignore print or website ads, but it's not so easy to ignore adio ads. (I know no one in the business wants to hear that listeners skip over the ads.)

    So that's my next set of "off the top of my head" comments….

  11. I wasn't much of a radio person, but now that I don't have cable and am driving longer distances I've been listening to Public Radio more often (the rest of the stations are awful.) I don't listen to podcasts much unless it's a blogger I'm familiar with (such as Phil Plait).

    "She was a popular pick. She wasn't one of the judges' picks. What I think is part of [Watson's] success is that she earned the judges' respect."

    As a voter who listened to all the final entries, I thought she offered something different than the usual NPR fare and she has much potential to run a good show. Some of the other entrants sounded so much like what is already on NPR, despite being quite good. Rebecca's pilot convinced me that with more time to devote to her show it would get even better. She certainly doesn't lack motivation.

    *Disclosure: I do not personally know Rebecca.

  12. Rebecca, it's great to hear that you have the soapbox, even if you only get to mount the thing for a brief time.

    While you're there, please take the opportunity to convince the hosts of some of the big shows that they ought to check facts carefully. On a couple of occasions, I have sent messages urging folks at NPR to correct mis-information that they have (I hope) inadvertently passed along to millions of listeners. (See, e.g., this entry about promoting the falsity that individuals with dyslexia see things backwards.

    Mayhaps you could just be hired on as resident Doubtful Inquirer™ (DI).

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