Nov 30, 2021 - Economy

Exclusive: Vox Media poaches top NPR host, lands distribution deal with WNYC

Noel King. Photo: Sandy Honig/NPR

Vox Media has inked a deal with WNYC, a member station of NPR, to distribute its flagship podcast "Today, Explained" to public radio stations across the country beginning next year.

  • It's also poached Noel King, co-host of NPR's flagship show "Morning Edition," as editorial director and co-host of "Today Explained" with the podcast's current host Sean Rameswaram.

Why it matters: The partnership marks the first time Vox Media's content will regularly appear on the radio. Vox says the two companies will identify additional shows in its podcast portfolio to distribute via radio in the future.

  • Vox Media first experimented with radio distribution earlier this year when it distributed an hourlong special edition of its podcast "Unexplainable" across American Public Media.

Details: In her new role, King will help develop special series for the show and will do her own original reporting.

  • She and Rameswaram, who also serves as Vox Audio creative director, will share hosting duties while they both simultaneously pursue other long-term projects, including efforts to expand the show's presence to new platforms.

Between the lines: The deal is part of a larger effort by Vox Media to invest in third-party partnerships to grow the reach of its podcast network.

  • Earlier this month, the company said it acquired podcast studio "Criminal Productions."
  • Vox Media this year inked three deals to distribute podcasts that it doesn't produce including Waveform: The MKBHD Podcast, Longform and Gastropod. Vox manages sales, marketing and distribution for those shows.
  • In April, it acquired Preet Bharara's podcast company Cafe Studios.

The big picture: Podcast distribution deals between traditional publishers and radio companies are becoming more frequent because they're mutually beneficial.

  • Publisher podcasts can benefit from the broad reach of radio networks. And radio networks — particularly in public radio — can benefit from the free programming and younger audience demographics they get from podcasts.
  • The New York Times, for example, distributes its flagship podcast "The Daily" to listeners of American Public Radio. 

Be smart: King's departure marks the second prominent woman of color to leave a major hosting job at NPR's "Morning Edition." The New York Times hired Lourdes "Lulu" Garcia-Navarro in September, the former host of NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday and a former co-host of NPR's morning news podcast Up First.

What's next: King starts at Vox on Jan. 3, 2022.

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