The Questions: 2017 Work Edition

"Whenever things go wrong, whenever things go left, you can be in charge" - Maxwell, Listen Hear

Will we continue to invest and experiment in bringing our brands to digital spaces (and in new and interesting ways) even though the money might not be there yet?

The vast majority of the budgets in the entertainment industry are focused on declining traditional platforms like linear television and cable. That wealth of creative expression needs to be redeployed to digital networks, where creative people can connect more closely with massive audiences and where it is possible to directly serve more diverse audiences as well as for people to share media with those who matter in their lives. Social platforms are reaching more people and having a bigger impact, but they are still not taken seriously by the biggest media companies with the most resources to invest, and this is limiting our collective creative culture. — Jonah Peretti, Founder and CEO of BuzzFeed

Others are.

Will programmatic ad buyers be shamed into paying for quality?

“Honestly, the long tail is to advertising what subprime was to mortgages. No one knows what’s in it, but it helps people believe that there is a mysterious tonnage of impressions that are really low cost. But low-cost impressions would mean low-cost human attention. How can any publisher of quality content survive on low-cost impressions?” —Joe Marchese, President of advertising products for the Fox Networks Group

Will we embrace the idea that audience whims can change every day, every hour, every moment?

Will we reconsider the role and responsibilities of content recommendations engines on our pages? We trade our most valuable click real estate for dollars and maybe a bit of our souls.

Will we come up with good reasons (and good ideas)  to be on even more platforms?

Will we talk more about voice?

Will we take the time to be more thoughtful in our decision-making? Will we give ourselves the space and time to sit with data, to ask the right questions, to seek the right answers, to be creative, and to do right by those that read and watch what we make?

In 2017, I hope the industry stops chasing it's tail or the holy grail of scale and pursues something more meaningful: earning trust, respect, and an emotional connection with the real people that make up the elusive "audience."

I know it's what I'm going to be advocating for at every opportunity come Tuesday.

To 2017

"Beyond your darkness, I'm your light." - Beyoncé, All Night

I'm still here, motherfucker.

I still love. I still laugh. I will fight.

I'm in the gym getting this body right for the resistance.

I'm giving up beef for environmental reasons. I'm taking my doctor's advice and gonna try to lose these thirty pounds.

I'm in the ear of my representatives. I'm working politically and practically. At home and in states that need it more than my golden one. My money is going to organizations doing the best work for the least protected of us.

What I'm saying, New Year, is you're going to try to test me, test us. Please know that I'm ready.

Tomorrow isn't promised. Progress is precarious. The world is worrisome.

But there is joy, beauty, hope, and possibility around every corner.

And, I'm still here. 

Podcast Episodes I Liked This Week: NPR One Edition

“There’s only so much truth you can keep in your bowl.” - Busdriver, Worlds to Run (feat. Milo and Anderson .Paak)

I consumed almost all my podcasts this week via NPR One (the app rather the website). I’ve been looking for a better podcast listening experience. I’m a relatively long-time user of Pocketcasts, and they do the best job of the different tools I’ve tried, but there were a few things that were frustrating to me, and it feels silly that there isn’t a purely lovely tool for listening considering how long this kind of audio storytelling has been around now.

NPR is heavily pushing the NPR One app, sort of. There’s been a lot of industry discussion about it. Also, in the corner of Twitter I play in:

The thing, though, that got me to download and sample the app was the opportunity to hear Pop Culture Happy Hour a day early if you’re listening via NPR One.

(if you care about the drama, Linda Holmes, host of PCHH, wrote quite a bit about it and her experience using the app for an extended period)

Then a funny thing happened, I enjoyed using the app. There are little things, like hearing radio news pieces mixed in with my podcasts which I don’t get in other experiences. There are big things, like the Explore section which is well curated and has some algorithmic logic that is getting good rather quickly at understanding what I like to listen to and suggesting them. And then astounding things, like suggesting podcasts from my local station that I didn’t even know existed.

So, here we go:

Pope Francis On Love, Marriage and Divorce, and the Art of the Car Chase

I talk about KCRW Press Play a lot. It’s my local news show. Madeleine Brand is my primary sherpa for figuring out what’s going on in Los Angeles and how we fit in the rest of the world. The April 8th, 2016 episode features seven minutes with Zoey Tur, the broadcast journalist that invented the car chase to talk about the particularly epic one we had this week.

Episode 63: Radio Free

There are sixty-three episodes of The Organist—a collaboration between KCRW and The Believer—and I had never heard of it before. How is this possible?! This episode is written by Buzzfeed Emerging Writers Fellow Niela Orr talking about LA Art-Rapper Busdriver’s new podcast and putting it in the context of the tradition of black activist radio. One of the best produced and best sounding podcasts I’ve heard in a long while.

The Years That Changed The Internet: 2010, 2005, 1999

I’m not sure I’m all in on Buzzfeed’s Internet Explorer.  It spends an awful lot of time in areas of the web I actively try to avoid and it’s hosts are engaging but not necessarily charming and, I like charm. This mini-series, though, does an excellent job of reminiscing about these individual years in surprising ways. They also pushed me to think about what I was doing on the internet (besides working) in those years.

In 2010, I was blogging much more frequently than I do now and IMing with my long-distance fiancé, Tiffany.

In 2005, I was a B or C grade blog star, editing LAist, and talking about identity blogging at SXSW.

In 1999, I ran an electronic pro-wrestling federation (hosted on Tripod) in which I would book and write shows and generate results using a text-based wrestling simulator that somebody far nerdier than I had created and shared for free online. As Katie Notopolous notes in the episode, wrestling was enormously popular at this time.

Race, class and why we don't always believe each other

We Live Here is a podcast from St. Louis Public Radio. NPR One threw this in the mix while I was listening this morning cleaning the kitchen. The question: why don’t we (the collective, societal, we) believe poor people and black people when they highlight systemic issues? The answer is well told, leads to more questions, and has me clamoring to hear everything else in this series. Also, there’s a good dig at Vox thrown in there off-handedly.

Solidarity And Revolt Aboard The Slave Ship Creole

I talked about Tripod last week. I’ll probably talk about them every week. This episode, though? I want it to be made into a movie. Also, if you ever want to understand how deep into slavery America was, consider that illegal/pirate slave traders from other countries would raise the US Flag in the 1800s to protect themselves from the British Navy who were aggressively seeking to end the trade after it was abolished in the early part of the 19th Century. It’s so deep. Plus, there's an Aaliyah song clip from her best album which is impossible to find on your favorite streaming services.

Jimmy Fallon Will Never Make Fun of You

I doubt I could listen to every episode of Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing but Jimmy Fallon is such a good guest in this one—also an NPR One suggestion—that I will probably stick around for other episodes that the app recommends.

If you decide to try NPR One, let me know what you think. Also, how are you consuming podcasts beyond NPR One?

Podcast Episodes I Liked This Week: Racist Food Edition

The one thing I find I have trouble sharing to my circle these days are podcast episodes. Episodes are hard to share from within most apps. The context in which I am usually listening isn't conducive to sharing.

Hey! I have a woefully underutilized blog.

Here are some podcast episodes I rather enjoyed this week:

Is This Food Racist?

I haven't been listening to Dan Pashman's podcast as religiously as I had been. One of the last episodes I listened to sparked the current series that's being discussed on this episode of On The Media. It's a great convo but what I most like is that it validates my suspiciousness of Rick Bayless. It also got me to revisit The Sporkful.


I love bourbon. I love true crime. I love Phoebe Judge's voice. This episode of Criminal so relevant to my interests.

Crimble Bramble

Sampler Show is such a great concept: a podcast about podcasts. This edition examines a space of the podcast world I'm never in, comedy. More than that, I always enjoy hearing Reply All's Alex and PJ banter as friends and colleagues. I don't think I'll be trying any of the shows mentioned but I was entertained.

Small Batch: The Real Housewives of the Potomac

This is the one series of The Real Housewives Tiffany isn't watching (I don't think) but this brief Pop Culture Happy Hour conversation kinda makes me wanna binge watch some weekend soon. It also features Sampler Show's host Brittany Luse so, you know, synergy.

Sighting The Sites Of The New Orleans Slave Trade

I'm obsessed with Tripod. It is fascinating and infuriating and is the kind of history storytelling I wish we got in our education system. The reminder that one million people were bought and sold all over New Orleans—my second favorite city in the country—and that we rarely reckon or remind ourselves of this fact is the core of this episode. I will not forget the next time I walk by or into the Omni Hotel. And I just might sneak into the hotel pool. For the ancestors.

Your turn. What podcast episodes did you love this week?

Thank You

 "There's no righteousness in your darkest moment." — Sleater-Kinney, Sympathy

Thank you, 2015, for pushing me to go beyond what's comfortable. For giving Tiffany great work opportunities and a shake up to her routine (and mine). For London. For meaningful conversations with loved ones. For Dominique Toney on my tv. For Omaha. For 80 years of Pauline. For successful knee surgeries. For xoxo. For the creative work I was able to do around the GRAMMYs and elsewhere. For getting to highlight my mom in some of those ventures. For DC. For reconnections with old friends and acquaintances. For new friends. For Kendrick, Kamasi, and Kaiyote.  For the Force and Furiosa. And Creed. For Coates and Woodson and James and G. Willow. For being able to see myself and people who look like my friends in the pop culture narrative. For Hamilton. For biscuits. For basketball. For acknowledging the passage of time and being okay with who I am and who I'm not in this moment.

For friends. For family.

For Suzie.

For tomorrow and whatever may come.