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SOME CA ALUMNAE/I IN PODCASTING

Above: Matt Belknap ’93; Left: Sean Carr ’93

with Howard Stern who was selling mugs to listeners to support his own podcast. “It was unimaginable to me that a guy with this much stature in the comedy world was going to the post office three times a week to ship $7 mugs to individual listeners,” he says. “In essence, that’s the problem we set out to solve.” The obstacle, as Belknap and Carr explain, was that the existing technology had severe limitations. With episodes essentially static once they were produced and distributed, podcasters could not reliably measure their audiences, regionally target their advertising, or refresh the promotions on old podcasts. Carr, who has a background in computer science, soon realized he could develop technology to fix that problem. A fully integrated platform for targeting ads, inserting them dynamically, and measuring audience engagement made ART19, now located in the San Francisco area, stand out. Once podcasting found its footing as a medium, it was easy to demonstrate to podcasters why it would be useful to have listeners in New York City hear different ads from listeners in Canada, or have listeners who downloaded a comedy podcast from three years ago hear a promotion for a comedy tour happening next month. The two acknowledge that they owe a debt of gratitude to CA alumna Sarah Koenig ’86, host and executive producer of Serial, which almost singlehandedly turned the podcast medium from a niche into a phenomenon, with over 68 million downloads its first season.

“As recently as early 2014, podcasting was still something of a dirty word,” Carr recalls. “People didn’t see its potential and scale. Then in late 2014 came what in the industry is now called ‘the Serial effect’: a podcast that transcended a niche community and became water cooler conversation, part of the zeitgeist.” Suddenly there was an interest in podcasting, from big media companies, strategic investors, and angel investors. “The same people who months before had taken no interest in what we were trying to do were changing their tune,” he says. “Since we rolled out our beta in September 2015, we have been extraordinarily lucky. Recent growth has been off the charts.” Among their investors was CA alumnus John Laurence ’92, who also served on ART19’s board of directors. (Additionally, Jon Lewin ’93 is an advisor, and Ben Upham ’94 worked on ART19’s social media strategy.) Companies currently using their product include The New York Times, Yahoo, Fox Sports, Recode, Time Inc., Mother Jones, Scripps, Midroll, Vox Media, Sports Illustrated, and numerous grassroots podcasters. “Spoken-word audio is massive all over the world,” Carr says. “And podcasting is free of the gatekeepers that control other types of broadcasting. As smartphones and connected cars proliferate, we believe there’s going to be widespread growth in podcasting.” The increase will be reflected not only in quantity but in quality and range, Belknap adds. He predicts that the next big stage in podcasting will be scripted shows, analogous to an HBO or Netflix breakout drama like The Sopranos or House of Cards. And ART19 is one company making that change all the more likely to happen.

Learn more about ART19 at art19.com.

Sarah Green Carmichael ’00 hosts the HBR IdeaCast, the weekly podcast of Harvard Business Review. Each episode features an interview with an expert, with subjects ranging from office politics to strategy to work-life balance. The IdeaCast has been nominated for two National Magazine Awards under her tenure. Julia Hanlon ’10 is the creator and host of Running On Om, a podcast that explores the mind, body, and spirit connection. Running On Om features over 200 interviews with innovative individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, from authors, musicians, athletes, and actors to entrepreneurs, yogis, and chefs. Hanlon believes that everyone has a story worth sharing. Sarah Koenig ’86 is a producer at This American Life and host and executive producer of Serial, which attracted an unprecedented listenership and is widely credited as having revolutionized the podcasting industry. Author Henriette Lazaridis ’78 runs The Drum, an online literary magazine that publishes short fiction, essays, novel excerpts, poems, and interviews exclusively in audio form. The Drum is an executive partner of Boston's Literary Cultural District and “your source for literature out loud.” Annie Robinson ’05 created and curates two oral narratives projects: On the Road to Recovered: Voices from the Eating Disorder Recovery Community and Inside Stories: Medical Student Experience. They provide a platform for individuals to share their stories of navigating challenges, and help cultivate community in oftenisolating circumstances. Listen to sample podcasts and learn more about these alumnae/i at www.concordacademy.org/podcasters.

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Profile for Concord Academy

CA Magazine Fall 2016 Issue  

The fall 2016 issue of Concord Academy magazine features stories about CA Labs and commercial drones, as well as a preview of an innovative...

CA Magazine Fall 2016 Issue  

The fall 2016 issue of Concord Academy magazine features stories about CA Labs and commercial drones, as well as a preview of an innovative...

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