Listen to the future of media, today. Re/code’s senior editor Peter Kafka talks to the most interesting people in media and technology, to find out what happens when those two things collide. Tune in for smart, thoughtful, BS-free interviews.
Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the future of TV advertising, which has historically been "not so broken that it’s had to be fixed." However, Morgan's company is betting that big advertisers will want their TV ads to start working more like digital ads, personalized to each viewer and able to be connected with buying behavior. He also talks about how his first company, Real Media, weathered the dot-com crash, why the advertising world hasn't changed as quickly as he once predicted and why TV is a much bigger deal than most people in the tech bubble would assume. Plus: A bonus chat with the New York Times' Jim Rutenberg about how Russia used social media to meddle in the U.S. election and what that means for Silicon Valley companies.
Documentarian Ken Burns talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his new 18-hour documentary, "The Vietnam War." Burns says he sought to upend conventional wisdom about the war by rewinding the iconic images, stories and music of the time and telling history through the lens of all the countries involved in the fighting. He believes we are in a "golden age" of documentaries, but Burns says he has no desire to leave his career-long home, PBS, for a more digital-focused platform like HBO, Netflix or Amazon. He also talks about how war documentaries will change now that no one writes letters anymore, why critics have stopped fretting about the length of his films and why it's okay to watch that cute cat video online — so long as you come back to something more substantial later on.
Mother Jones Editor in Chief Clara Jeffery talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how the progressive magazine made its business model work on the web, with more than $15 million in revenue per year. Jeffery says the media put itself in an economic crisis by ignoring the business side of its work and argues that the best way to fund "stuff that's not just cat videos" is to ask readers and viewers for donations. She also reflects on how journalism has changed since Donald Trump won the presidency, why she still blames Facebook and Twitter for helping him win and why she's skeptical of media companies "pivoting to video."
Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Verizon's media properties Yahoo and AOL, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how those sites — collectively known as Oath — will survive and evolve. Armstrong, previously an early sales exec at Google, says competing directly against Google and Facebook for advertising dollars would be "the worst thing we could do" and instead, Oath plans to find other ways to win a piece of the pie. He also explains why it makes sense for Verizon to own Yahoo and AOL in the first place, what he learned from the struggles of local news site Patch and whether he would run for political office (no).
CNN's Oliver Darcy and BuzzFeed's Charlie Warzel talk with Recode's Peter Kafka about how they report on the many facets of the far-right media, which has exploded in prominence thanks to President Trump. They talk about how ideas, memes and conspiracy theories originated on websites like Breitbart or message boards like Reddit's /r/The_Donald can bubble up to more traditional conservative outlets — or even the White House. Darcy argues that Drudge Report founder Matt Drudge is the center of this digitally savvy lineup, acting along with Twitter as the most important gateway to the mainstream. Warzel explains why he's careful not to label everyone a "Nazi," instead offering the alt-right and others in the new landscape of pro-Trump media a "tough but fair shake."
Writer Chuck Klosterman talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his new book, "Chuck Klosterman X," a collection of essays and profiles he wrote for such outlets as Esquire, Grantland and the New York Times Magazine. Klosterman says he wants people to talk about what he writes, not how he writes it, and considers how politics, social media and the rise of media analytics have reshaped the work of journalism. He says he intentionally tries to avoid the tropes that his peers in the magazine world fall back on: Pretending that his interviews are casual, friendly conversations; taking subjects to weird places simply for the sake of a stylish opening; and, when the subject is a woman like Taylor Swift, talking about what she is wearing or what she looks like.
Patreon CEO Jack Conte talks with Recode’s Peter Kafka about why the current version of the web, where content is mostly free and supported by ads, is not necessarily the “best version.” Conte’s site makes it possible for subscribers — or "patrons" — to pay creators for what they make and get bonus content or other perks in return, and it's on track to process $150 million in 2017. He predicts that Patreon will one day go public, and explains why he really, really hates it when people call Patreon a “tip jar” or a “fan club.”
Univision's new Chief Revenue Officer Tonia O'Connor talks with Recode's Edmund Lee about how the company has grown from a handful of Spanish-language TV channels to 17 TV and digital channels. O'Connor says TV is still the hot ticket for everyone, even once-digital-only players like the former Gawker sites, which Univision acquired last year for $135 million. She also talks about how the company serves as an intermediary for reaching Hispanic consumers; why it changed course on Fusion TV and is putting less news on the air; and why she sees it as her "life's mission" to help other women succeed in business.
Tastemade CEO Larry Fitzgibbon talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about building a digital media company around food-as-lifestyle that reaches more than 200 million people per month. Fitzgibbon, who was previously an executive at Demand Media, says quality is the new key to succeeding in online video across all platforms — social, mobile and possibly TV. Later in the show, Eater Editor at Large Helen Rosner joins Peter in the studio to discuss why there are no new celebrity chefs on TV and how food culture became cool.
Writer, marketer and self-proclaimed media manipulator Ryan Holiday talks with Recode’s Peter Kafka about his new book, “Perennial Seller,” which explores “the art of making and marketing work that lasts.” He argues that creators over-value how their work launches, and don’t pay enough attention to how their decisions — from start to finish — affect its staying power. Holiday also talks about how his 2012 book, “Trust Me, I’m Lying,” predicted the alt-right’s approach to media manipulation, and explains why the ancient Roman philosophy of stoicism is still resonating today with everyone from the Secretary of Defense to startup founders in Silicon Valley.
Viacom and CBS Vice Chair Shari Redstone talks with Recode's Peter Kafka at the 2017 Code Conference about the venture firm she co-founded in 2011, Advancit Capital, and why it operates outside of her other companies. She says her biggest mistake there was not investing in Twitch in 2011 because she thought the video game-streaming company was already too highly valued. Redstone also discusses how content companies like Viacom are facing the challenges of the digital age and why they don't necessarily need to sell themselves off, as Time Warner is trying to do. She says she's not too worried about tech companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook making bids for the rights to NFL games, which CBS has locked up for several years.
Nick Quah, the founder and writer of the podcasting industry newsletter Hot Pod, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about where podcasts are headed next. Quah says two events in 2014 — Apple's decision to make the Podcasts app a default one on iOS and the success of the true crime show "Serial" — are responsible for the explosion of interest in podcasts over the past few years. His newsletter, which currently reaches about 11,000 inboxes, is aimed at people who work in the growing industry and has become his full-time job, along with several side hustles. Quah also discusses how Apple's plans to share more data about podcasts' audiences with their creators will be good in the long term for most shows, but could spell bad news for some of them.
New York Magazine's Rebecca Traister talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about covering the intersection of gender and politics and her recent profile of Hillary Clinton's post-election life. Traister explains how she gradually convinced Clinton's campaign to give her access to its candidate, and how everything changed after Nov. 8. She also analyzes Clinton's appearance at the 2017 Code Conference, where the former Secretary of State was reluctant to admit any missteps that she would do over if given the chance.
Director Brian Knappenberger talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his new documentary "Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press," which premieres on Netflix on June 23. In it, Knappenberger connects venture capitalist Peter Thiel's successful lawsuit against Gawker Media, by way of pro wrestler Hulk Hogan; the rise of Donald Trump to the presidency amid increasing distrust of the media; and the secretive sale of the Las Vegas Journal-Review to billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. Knappenberger says these incidents are all intertwined, giving his new film an added level of urgency. He also talks about why the work of the Washington Post and the New York Times is a "ray of hope" for newsrooms everywhere.
In this special bonus episode from the 2017 Code Conference, New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how the newspaper's journalists are covering President Donald Trump and why there are so many leaks coming out of Washington at the moment. Baquet acknowledges that many journalists, including him, misunderstood the "anger and anti-elitism" that elevated Trump, and defends the hiring of climate skeptic Bret Stephens as an opinion columnist, saying people on the left should be willing to hear him out. He also warns that local news is "verging on a crisis" and smaller outlets around the country may have to be rescued by technologists and philanthropists. Baquet says one of his other goals is figuring out how to update the "voice" of the Times to match the way people talk online.
BTIG's Rich Greenfield talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about being an outspoken media and technology analyst who has made enemies throughout Hollywood and much of the big-media landscape. Greenfield has advised clients to bet on Netflix and against Disney as the traditional paid content model breaks down, but also readily cops to the times in the past when he has been wrong. He also talks about why investors have to keep an eye on the startup ecosystem, the importance of data for anyone in media who wants to go direct-to-consumer, and why Google should buy Spotify.
In this special bonus episode from Code Conference 2017, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the video-streaming platform's continuing push into making original TV and movies. He says current windowing practices, in which movies are exclusively in theaters for a time before they're available in the home, will inevitably go away. Hastings also explains why Netflix has backed off of working in China, why it has no plans to carry sports or ad-supported content and why Netflix is in favor of net neutrality even though the company is so big that it doesn't need it anymore.
Media mogul Ken Lerer — the chairman of BuzzFeed, a board member at Viacom and a venture capitalist — talks with Recode’s Peter Kafka about the media landscape in 2017. Lerer, who previously helped start MTV and co-founded HuffPost with Arianna Huffington, discusses why BuzzFeed did the right thing with its explosive Trump dossier, what he looks for in companies he invests in, and why he’s more optimistic about AT&T’s pending acquisition of Time Warner than he is about Verizon’s deal to buy Yahoo and AOL. He also makes the case for a Breitbart-style online news outlet for liberals.
Michael McKean, who plays Chuck McGill on AMC's "Better Call Saul" and has previously appeared in films such as "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Clue," talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the process of acting and comedy. McKean is currently appearing in a dramatic play on Broadway (a new production of Lillian Hellman’s "The Little Foxes") and he says he’s glad the audience usually leaves their phones off. He also chats about improvising with Christopher Guest, his brief stint on "Saturday Night Live" and why he doesn't think much about how people are watching his work.
Amir Bar-Lev, the director of the new documentary "Long Strange Trip," talks with Recode's Peter Kafka. The four-hour film, which traces the history and cultural impact of the Grateful Dead and its fans, will be released in theaters and will stream via Amazon Prime Video. Bar-Lev says it's accessible to both Deadheads and non-fans alike and that he made it in part as a reaction to how Instagram culture has made people believe they are "mini celebrities." He also argues that mainstream observers have neutered the Dead's legacy by trying to cast them as tech or business geniuses, when in fact they always put art ahead of commerce.