Ailsa Chang clerked for a federal judge and practiced law long before becoming an award-winning investigative journalist and spending a decade as a broadcast reporter. Noel King filed radio reports for six years from places such as Cairo, Khartoum, Darfur and Kigali before becoming a senior editor on Marketplace’s Wealth and Poverty Desk and fill-in host of the Marketplace Morning Report.
Yet it was podcasting — primarily their deep legal and economic reporting on the popular NPR podcast (and now radio show) Planet Money — that has been cited in their promotions, announced Thursday, to be co-hosts for All Things Considered and Morning Edition. The two shows are NPR’s most established broadcasts, and with 14.6 million weekly listeners each, NPR’s most popular.
Chang and King’s strong news chops will definitely be a plus. They also will bring a quality that has led to the development of 42 NPR podcasts. Some of those podcasts, like Shankar Vedantam’s Hidden Brain, began as popular segments of the daily news magazine shows.
“When I imagine turning on the radio in five years,” King says, “I like to think it will be full of radio shows that incubated as podcasts at NPR and elsewhere."
King will join Steve Inskeep, Rachel Martin and David Greene as co-hosts of Morning Edition and the Up First podcast. Chang will replace the recently retired Robert Siegel on All Things Considered, co-hosting with Audie Cornish, Mary Louise Kelly and Ari Shapiro.
Both King and Chang will still contribute occasional enterprise stories to Planet Money as well.
Here’s the transcript of a brief email interview with King and Chang, just hours after the NPR announcement:
Congratulations, both of you. Podcasting gave you a platform and invaluable exposure. How would you gauge its role in getting you to this new job? And how do you think that you can take the best of that experience to distinguish established programs?
Ailsa: I spent about a decade on the broadcast side of public radio before joining the podcast Planet Money. And throughout the broadcast-to-podcast journey, it has felt like I am still very much committed to the same goal — telling great audio stories.
That’s the thing. The worlds are a lot more alike than different. A lot has been made about how the broadcast and podcast sides are two fiefdoms. I disagree. The mission is fundamentally the same in each: it’s about excellent journalism and compelling audio storytelling. And the people who populate both spaces float back and forth.
That said, I’m excited that NPR wants to further bridge the broadcast side and the podcast side. And the addition of Noel and me to the broadcast host team is a wonderful testament to that.
Noel: First, thanks David! I've been doing longform reporting at Planet Money for two years, and I've been fill-in hosting on news programs for seven years. I've learned there's really a lot of overlap. The goal is the same: do excellent work, pull people in, keep them listening.
Working in podcasting has taught me an enormous amount about storytelling and crafting a narrative. That's hard to pull off in a short interview, or when news is breaking. But there are lessons I've learned in longform, that are just as applicable in hosting.
I think that by putting Ailsa and me into host roles, NPR is telegraphing something that many of us believe: broadcast and podcasting each have a lot to learn from the other.
On a week when Michael Barbaro's The Daily announced plans to go broadcast, how wide do you think the podcast-to-broadcast pipeline will be for future jobs? And who did you see as models along this route?
Ailsa: Actually, NPR has long been bringing its podcast content to broadcast. For example, shows like Ask me Another, TED Radio Hour, Invisibilia, and It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders were designed to become content for both podcast and broadcast.
Now Planet Money, How I Built This, Hidden Brain and It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders can be heard as radio shows, too.
Noel: Like most other people in our field, I was riveted when I saw the news about The Daily coming to public radio stations. That said: NPR's done much the same.
This summer, Planet Money and How I Built This combined forces, and the two podcasts now air as a weekly show on the radio. Sam Sanders and his team took It's Been a Minute from a podcast to a radio show. Same goes for Hidden Brain.
“When I imagine turning on the radio in five years, I like to think it will be full of radio shows that incubated as podcasts at NPR and elsewhere."