President Biden’s not-podcast, not-radio weekly address

Following a tradition of weekly radio addresses started by Franklin D. Roosevelt, revivied by Reagan, and carried forward in different forms by other chief executives, President Biden has launched a weekly communication series. It won’t be on the radio, though — a White House spokesperson told Engadget that Biden’s weekly chat with Americans will be “where people are.”

That has to feel insulting to radio, especially considering radio’s 93% reach.

Some outlets are calling Biden’s version of the weekly address a podcast. We suppose that’s true in the strict sense of an uploaded file. If we go with that conceit, the series title seems to be A Weekly Conversation. The first one (see below)  is a YouTube conversation with a woman named Michele who wrote a letter to the president describing her employment struggles during Covid. Biden calls her on the phone for a chat.

All it needs is a staged fireplace to fully embrace FDR’s idea of “fireside chats.” But it is a smoothly produced remote conversation between Michele, President Biden, and Michele’s daughter who makes a cameo toward the end of the two and a half minute video. (No mattress ads. Definitely not a podcast.)

To us, the production seems like a long-form political commercial, more than a short-form podcast. Biden expresses his on-brand warmth and sympathy while itemizing a few program goals of his administration.

We look forward to future, um, episodes of this not-fireside, not-podcast, and definitely not-radio product.

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Brad Hill