A recent entry to the morning news niche of daily podcasting, START HERE from ABC Radio launched on March 28. The 20-minute daily news feature is a highly produced, crisply hosted competitor to Up First (NPR), The Daily (New York Times) and others.
We engaged show anchor Brad Mielke in a Q&A over email.
START HERE is highly produced and crisply edited. Can you run down the process of assembling the show?
We really want to give the audience the experience of going along with our reporters on the most important stories of the day. We start each morning by sitting in on ABC’s big editorial meeting. Editors and reporters from our bureaus around the world explain what they’re working on, what they’re chasing and why it’s important. Then, our team starts a conversation about what we really want to dig into. We have a pitch session, and then we start setting up our interviews. Some of that is touching base with ABC journalists , some of it is reaching out to newsmakers and experts. But as that’s all happening, our producer David Rind is gathering sound that will help us tell the story – the latest clips, as well as archival footage from ABC broadcasts. And then the really tough part begins, which is squeezing it all into 20 minutes!
How does START HERE differentiate in the category of daily news podcasts? In other words, how would you describe your niche?
Our first goal is clarity. Every day, the average person hears dozens of headlines, all of them presented as equally important. It’s dizzying. Our goal has been to cut through the noise – to take that raw information and crystallize it with insight. Context helps, so does engaging sound, so does a natural tone. The way I talk on the show is pretty close to my real life conversations. But we also want to prepare you to start your day – breaking down stories you need to know, along with the ones you haven’t heard of yet. We like to surprise you with those. Our niche lies in getting you that information, quickly, clearly, accurately and concisely, as we dig in past the headline.
Please outline the production staff — how many and what roles?
We’ve got an amazing team of producers: David Rind, Josh Cohan, Tara Gimbel, Suzie Liu, and Kelly Terez. But the group of people working on the show’s day-to-day operations, promotion and distribution is even wider: Abe Velez, Jason Potts, Maria Kim and Jeff Fitzgerald, among others. Steve Jones and Andrew Kalb manage the show, and are very involved with each episode.
You were a full-time broadcaster before the podcast. Most of your START HERE episodes are at least 20 minutes of tightly edited production. How do you fit this in?
ABC really went all in on this project. I’m now working full-time on “Start Here,” which is a dream come true. It also means my colleagues are liable to see me approaching at any time with a microphone, so they’ve learned to keep an eye out for me!
Is START HERE an outlet for a different type of journalistic content? Or is the difference really about production style and distribution platform?
We decided early on that we wanted to give listeners a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the ABC newsroom. We’ve got such a deep bench of journalists, each of whom has incredible expertise, including Martha Raddatz, Jonathan Karl, Cecilia Vega, Tom Llamas, Juju Chang, Dan Harris and many more that are so good at giving perspective amid the flow of daily news. But we’ve also got journalists that are not on TV every day, who follow stories for days, even years at a time. We wanted that expertise to be part of the podcast, and everyone’s been incredibly generous with their time. So yeah, the platform is new and exciting, but I think you’ll hear a very distinct brand of journalism, as well.