Staff mug portrait of Elliot Njus LC- The Oregonian

or insight into newspaper podcasts, News & Tech turned to a source who’s very in the know: Elliot Njus, podcasts editor for The Oregonian/OregonLive.

For over 10 years at The Oregonian/OregonLive, Njus covered community news, business, housing and transportation as a reporter. Now he manages podcasts and edits weekend breaking news. 

Njus took the time to provide us with the useful info below. Also, scroll down to catch our podcast roundup. It's got recent headlines and trends concerning podcasts.

News & Tech: What podcasts is The Oregonian doing now and how often?

Njus: We've launched seven podcasts, some of them intended for a limited run. 

Right now, we're in regular production on "Beat Check with The Oregonian," a news program featuring interviews with reporters; "Peak Northwest," a travel and outdoors show that highlights the best our region has to offer; "Blazer Focused," which covers the Portland Trail Blazers; "Ducks Confidential," which covers University of Oregon athletics; and "The Recruiting Trail," which covers the ins and outs of college sports recruiting. All of those shows are produced at least weekly, or more frequently if news demands.
We also produce a daily audio news briefing that's delivered via smart speaker and podcast feed.

All our podcasts can be found at oregonlive.com/podcasts.

News & Tech: What's been the most popular?

Njus: Our news and travel shows have a significant head start, but our newer sports shows have been quicker to find their audience and should catch up soon.

News & Tech: How are ads going? What advice do you have on ad selling?

Njus: This is not really my department — I'm strictly on the content side. But our parent company has partnered with Acast, a hosting platform that sells direct and programmatic ads that are inserted dynamically. That's taken some pressure off of our local sales team, at least initially while we build audience. 

News & Tech: How much time does it take to put the podcasts together?

Njus: We started podcasting seriously last October, and then we had to reinvent our entire process for remote working in March. But most require up to an hour of prep time, an hour to record, and then a couple of hours to edit. Some are more streamlined than others. For example, our storytelling podcast Oregon Lives incorporates field-recorded audio and takes longer to put together in post-production. 

News & Tech: What programs and tech are you using?

Njus: We started out with a studio in our newsroom, but of course that's no longer an option, so most of our hosts have been outfitted with microphone setups they can use in their homes. We record using a technique known in radio as a double-ender or a phone sync, where each person records their own side of the conversation and it's merged in editing. We've also experimented with online services that record high-quality audio and upload them in the background. We edit in Adobe Audition.

News & Tech: What's the best way to promote the podcasts? Besides the paper's website, where are they found?

Njus: We've had pretty good response from posting previews on social media, but our website and email newsletters have been a major driver of listenership as well. There are already podcast listeners in our audience, and we need to get our shows in front of them. Many of our fans still aren't aware we produce podcasts. 

We've also built in interactivity where we can by giving listeners a way to send us voicemails or recordings that we can play on the show. We planned to do live-recorded shows before the pandemic hit, but now we plan to do them virtually. That's another way to interact with fans and, hopefully, grow our audience at the same time. 

Our podcasts are listed on all the major distribution platforms, including but not limited to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify. 

News & Tech: What advice can you offer for papers considering doing podcasts?

Njus: Be methodical in your approach. Consider what your audience wants and how you can deliver it in a way that's not already being done. Build some structure around your show — but don't be afraid to break format and experiment, then build on your successes. 

Make sure you have a strong promotional strategy in place early. The major podcast directories don't make it easy to find local-interest podcasts, so you'll need to reach your audience on your own.