One of the hardest things about running our own publication is we don’t get a lot of critical feedback. We get hate mail or gushing fan mail, but not much in the way of constructive criticism.
We hear from a handful of you who really like listening to our occasional podcasts, but it’s a fair amount of work for a product that we don’t really feel proud of. And we’re at something of a crossroads with it.
So we have a few questions for you, our bosses.
Should we pump more time and energy into creating a better podcast that we actually do like? Or do we kill off our podcast altogether and pump more time into reporting? Do you, as a paid subscriber, think a paid-only benefit like the podcast is crucial to you staying paid?
And if we keep podcasting, we’re thinking about doing more interviews with newsmakers. Who should we invite on?
Wow, we love all this feedback! Thanks so much to everyone who shared their thoughts. Our takeaway is: We'll set aside a podcast for now, since we're seeing that it's not a huge priority for many of you. Though we also will keep in mind the ideas several of you mentioned of how they can be used to expand audience. While a fair number of Substacks have success with paid-only audio in their newsletters, we're not there yet, and our biggest challenge is always finding new readers, not convincing people that we're worth paying for. So, for the foreseeable future, unless we have something audio-centric that needs a lil podcast, we'll table it. But it's still an idea we'll keep around once we find more bandwidth/can afford some help. Thanks again, y'all!
I do not care for podcasts. I can read much faster and like it better. I like your product the way it already is.
I, personally, do not listen to podcasts. Too busy working. I prefer good, sound written articles.
Kill the podcast, pump more time into reporting.
No more podcasts
I don’t listen to podcasts. I would prefer you to focus on reporting in the newsletter.
I like podcasts. I know your time isn't unlimited, but I'd love to see you do more.
I didn't know you had a podcast. While I prefer listening to stories, I think it's important to focus primarily on reporting. I've lived without the podcast so far, so I'm fine.
I like podcasts, when they are well crafted. That means that I listen to very, very few of them because most of them are awful, despite their popularity. Long-form journalism is what I prefer.
If you do a podcast, then do them when you get either extremely important information or with a high value interview subject. So make it a feature, maybe 1x per month, that can stand by itself as relevant content.
Like many of the commenters, I don't listen to podcasts and would prefer you concentrate on the written offerings. Thanks!
No podcasts. Continue excellent insider reporting!
Well, I may be an outlier. I prefer to read shorter items and listen to longer ones. In fact, I often get my 'puter to read the Az Agenda emails to me as I'm making breakfast. I like the podcasts! Perhaps I should slow down and do one thing at a time though.
I prefer reading rather than listening to a podcast. It is too time consuming.
I agree with Lara. I don’t listen to podcasts as I can read much faster.
Written articles or podcasts, for me it is a close call…..but written articles win.
I’m not a fan of podcasts. I did not let stem to them or care to.
I would personally prefer deep investigative journalism to podcasts.
Please “pump more time into reporting”. Play to your strengths.
No on podcast, yes on written reporting!
I love podcasts, but don’t necessarily think they’re worth the effort for the Agenda. I’d be more interested in more time invested in reporting. That’s what keeps me coming back.
I love podcasts as a method of keeping up on current events and interesting reporting. As a paid sub, I would encourage doubling down on podcasting but NOT making it a paid bonus to allow the greatest possible audience and possible monetization. There are very few podcasts about Arizona politics in particular, and even fewer good ones, if you can make yours really good I think it would complement the newsletter nicely. If you want to offer a premium content to subs, I would suggest exploring a periodic audio chat on Twitter Spaces with you guys with only subs notified in advance of the time and day. Just speaking for myself, however, I don't need premium content to support you with a sub; it is enough to support good independent political journalism focused on AZ, which we have precious little of.
There are other decent podcasts looking at local politics including Steve Goldstein KJZZ/the gaggle—
not as in-depth or entertaining as you guys …but probably not worth the effort for your team to continue.
I will subscribe regardless of whether you do a podcast. Full disclosure, I am not a huge fan of the format - I echo others who said they read much faster than they listen. I would much rather see you pump the time into reporting.
Not a podcast fan. I read the Agenda at different times and places.
One note about interviews: don't have interviewees who have a message agenda, especially politicians. Nothing more boring, really. Have people who have a viewpoint that is interesting and experiences that are relevant to politics and policy, but not trying to win votes or donations. Just my two cents.
Hi AZ-A team,
Podcasts are the thing... there's huge upside with a podcast in growing your audience. I'm sure you've seen multiple examples from your Substack partner.
You are likely limiting yourself by offering the podcast only to your paid subscribers. This also limits the ability to grow your audience, though it might make us (paid subscribers) stickier.
I also agree with you (as I have my own podcast - https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/retail-done-right/id1585743725) that podcasts take time, effort and additional cost on top of the reporting and outreach you are doing already. Sound quality and compelling content - along with a very consistent publishing schedule - are critical.
Your content strategy could be a mix of current news topics, deep dive reporting and relevant, compelling local guests. Mix it up...
If time is limited at this stage, focus on the reporting and the newsletter. If additional resources become available (internships?), then launching a podcast makes a lot of sense. I'd just suggest offering the podcast to all as it's a great way to broaden your reach and audience...
More written content and drop the podcasts
I never listen to podcasts. Putting efforts into your great reporting is what I’d vote for
I listen to several podcasts, including The Daily and Fresh Air. But I like listening to them while I’m doing something else. Your newsletter is something I read and think about. I click on the links. A podcast can increase your audience but there are very few money-making podcasts. It will only work if it sends people back to your newsletter and they pay for it, or you run ads.
I read rather than listen. Don't waste your resources for me.
I don't listen to podcasts, but I always look forward to reading your emails.
I listen to very few podcasts. I would much rather see more original reporting. My mantra is “tell me something I don’t know”! You and Hank have the “chops” for additional deeper, broader stories. I would suggest putting your time there. Many thanks for your efforts and Arizona Agenda!
I echo the writer who said podcasts are the current thing, but if resources are limited, concentrate on the reporting. When/if growth allows for additional resources (people) to help manage a high quality, time consuming podcast, THEN you could add that.
Personally, I use podcasts for humor and entertainment and read my news.
Keep up the great work!
I like podcasts, but understand they are a time suck. I also liked it when you did a Twitter space with a guest. That would scratch my itch for a podcast and seems much easier to create!
As an old lady, I don’t enjoy anyone’s podcast. Much prefer reading. I’m a new subscriber, just getting to used to what it is you’re doing. What is happening now in Arizona is alarming. I would like to know what the dastardly rascals are up to. I’ve lived in Tempe since 1974, and I’m seriously considering becoming an expat.
I enjoy listening to podcasts but it’s probably more work that what it’s worth.
Where can we here the podcast(s) that you've done so far? I must have missed them, and when I search on Spotify a show named Arizona Agenda doesnt come up. Generally I'm a big fan of podcasts and the opportunity they offer for audience growth. Based on the comments it seems like you're hitting a good audience that prefers long-form written content, but there may be a lot more who don't but who do listen to podcasts. I enjoy The Gaggle and Valley 101 also, but I'd love to hear from more local journalists that are truly dedicated and embedded in the local happenings politically.
I subscribed to support local journalism. I have never listened to your podcast so if you cut it, it wouldn’t impact me or my subscription status. I am more interested in the written reporting
I don't like podcasts, so I'd rather have you spend more money on the print version.
I never listen to podcasts.
I’m not a podcast fan myself, but some folks love ‘em.
You could do adds on the podcasts though and make more money. So there’s that to consider.
Maybe do interviews on the podcast and use snips in the regular substack? Listen to our podcast for the full interview; something like that.
I've been enjoying the episodes where you two talk about the background and process of your reporting. It would be a shame to lose it.
I am not a fan of podcasts. I prefer to read your news letter each morning while I also read the newspaper
I don't listen to any podcasts on any topics. More reporting is my vote
I personally think you should just focus on the newsletter for now.
I don't listen to podcasts
Do what you need to do to keep going. You’re such a wonderful fresh perspective that you have… Totally oriented… Got a new way to observe. Keep it up
Bad return on time. Break new news or cover new stories, developments. Better value add than simply translating what is already known into audio format.
CapTimes dropped its podcast after not too long.
We'll see if The Gaggle is sustained post-Yvonne.
Keep the podcast.
Drop the podcast. There’s too many of them, and your efforts would be much better served improving the journalism in the stories you provide on sub stack.