Audio Interview: Maria Thomas, VP & GM, NPR Online & Mobile

At the Digital Hollywood earlier this week, I met with Maria Thomas, the soft-spoken VP and GM of NPR‘s new media efforts, which includes online and mobile. I was particularly looking forward to this interview, mainly because of my personal interest in public service broadcasting and our micro-focus on BBC. NPR and PBS, big as they are in U.S., don’t have the same visibility as BBC in UK, but have been taking some important steps in digital media.

My interest in NPR piqued, back in May when I met Ken Stern, the exec VP at NPR, and he had some fascinating figures on how NPR’s audience is increasing by leaps and bounds, contrary to mainstream radio. And online, podcasting has breathed a new life into NPR’s efforts. Its podcast shows are among the top most downloaded on iTunes…it has had 5 among the top 10 podcasts on iTunes podcast lists since iTunes started podcast support in its new version. Of course, the big news events over the last two years have helped general news listener and online audience, and NPR has benefited from that.

The public service remit is paramount, as Thomas explained in the interview, and since NPR’s locus standi is to reach as far as wide as it can, any new advances in digital media are NPR’s remit. Anyway, the interview is very wide ranging and possibly the best I’ve done this year…she talks about the mission of NPR, how online extends it, its podcast strategy, working with local affiliates on online, the move into mobile, the limitations, the future and other topics.

Download it here for your weekend listening pleasure. (7.6 MB, 45 minutes) ()

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