My Podcast About Magazines

It’s true. I have a podcast. And you’re thinking, just what the world needs, and I wouldn’t disagree, because, yes, there are a lot of podcasts out there, too many, let’s admit it, but who am I too say there’s too much of anything? I’m just a man. With a podcast.

The podcast is called The Full Bleed, a series of “short conversations about the future of magazines and the magazines of the future.” All the conversations are under an hour, mostly because my main complaint about almost all podcasts is not that there are too many (again, I’m not the king and I don’t get to decide what is too many of anything; we live in system that encourages too many of the same thing and then we get into survival-of-the-fittest mode which leads to an inevitable culling, and soon enough we’re complaining there are not enough of that thing that was once so abundant), no, but that almost all podcasts are too long. If I enjoy, say, ten podcasts, and they are all over an hour, I can’t listen to all of them regularly and I have to make choices. Life is about choices, sure, and too much choice is overwhelming, but podcasts should not make one feel existential dread, unless the podcast is about existentialism. And even then. There’s something in the length of podcasts about editing and control, for sure, and also about hearing about time crunches while simultaneously having to listen to too many podcasts (and read too many websites, yes, far too many websites are guilty of this and the lack of controls has led to some websites to employ overwriting as a stylistic thing, and this is also true of podcasts) – there are podcasts dissecting television shows that are far longer than the show they are dissecting, for example, which is a choice but also a kind of “we’re so smart” pissing contest, and they almost always end up sounding smug. Sounding smug about smart things is one thing. Sounding smug about, say, House of the Dragon is something else entirely.

The podcast came about because my friend was producing a podcast about magazines (there’s an entire website now dedicated to magazines) but the hosts were talking to the legends from the heyday of the form, and I asked my friend a simple question: What about the future? And he responded by inviting me to do something about it. So I did. (And, of course, I have a history in magazines, something that is in my past, sure, but I continue to love the form, though I have also become bored and even despondent with many magazines out there and continued to be so…until this show; let’s just say I loved running magazines).

I’ve just completed the first season of The Full Bleed. I spoke to all sorts of people from the EiC of Vanity Fair (Radhika Jones) to upstart indie types and everyone in between.

What they all shared in common was passion (of course) but also an amazing dedication to the form. I also found the following themes kept coming up: 1) the false economy of the ad supported model made readers into data points and so the business types at all media forgot who their customers were; the reaction to this is reader-supported magazines that charge the true cost of a subscription to their readers and don’t bend to the knee of advertisers (Mountain Gazette is a great example of this) 2) Print is far from dead; I spoke to more than one editor who is bringing their print edition back (notably Nylon and Saveur) and another who would love to return to print (Teen Vogue) 3) If you have a strong print brand, you don’t really need a strong digital presence (Mountain Gazette, again, and Delayed Gratification, for example) 4) though building a strong ecosystem is good if you can afford it and 5) the idea of quantity has been eclipsed, once again, by quality; more than once did an editor admit that the chase for clicks is “madness” (must have been a Brit who said that) and that quality ensures a longer shelf life for your brand than the incessant Sisyphean task of visits and clicks and eyeballs.

I’m going to start thinking about Season 2 soon enough. The Full Bleed is available at the embedded link but also on all podcast channels. Or at least the ones that I know about. It’s probably available in more places than that.

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