Today at the IAB Podcast Upfront fall conference, WBUR will announce its ambitious plans for podcasts over the next two years. The lineup features returning audience favorites like Endless Thread, Circle Round and Last Seen, as well as new podcasts in development, including a project with former China Bureau Chief Jane Perlez of The New York Times.
“As one of the largest public media organizations, rooted in one of the country’s most cosmopolitan cities, WBUR has established itself as a radio and podcasting powerhouse with millions of listeners and numerous distinct audiences,” said WBUR’s new Executive Producer Ben Brock Johnson. “Our podcast team is focused on bringing bold and innovative storytelling to new generations of public media consumers. For us, that means bringing engaging series and stories to our fan favorites, and launching creative and ambitious programming that inspires listeners who want to understand their world better via content that speaks directly to them.”
WBUR is a public media leader with years of chart-topping and critically-acclaimed contributions to the podcast ecosystem. As an early pioneer with breakthroughs like Modern Love and Dear Sugars, WBUR is poised to meet podcast audiences right now with critical hits, new seasons and several brand new shows. Here are some highlights:
Last Seen, WBUR’s true crime art heist podcast from 2018 gets a new season fans have been clamoring for, along with a new mission: exploring stories of people, places and things that have gone missing. This thoughtful entry to the true crime genre will relaunch as an anthology, featuring diverse voices telling stories about everything from astronomers searching for ghost planets to the disappearance of an unassuming fish, to a surfing jewel thief who predicted the rise of the online influencer. The new season will be curated by award-winning podcast producer Nora Saks.
Endless Thread, the show featuring untold histories and unsolved mysteries from the Internet, is relaunched with a new look and as a stand-alone podcast. The show’s 2021 return kicks off in October with a special series of deep dives on a timely and consequential topic: Memes. The series features conversations about the personal, historical, and cultural impact of memes, a unit of culture that’s changing the way we communicate. Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson will talk NFTs, Scumbag Steve, Disaster Girl, the rickroll, how memes are being used as a form of protest in Kenya, and even being co-opted by the white supremacist movement in the U.S.
Circle Round, WBUR’s popular storytelling podcast for children, jumps into its fifth season. In addition to a new set of folktales from around the world, Circle Round will launch a picture and activity book published by Workman Imprint Storey Publishing in May 2022.
As Boston’s NPR news station, WBUR is home to two daily national news shows: On Point and Here & Now. This fall, On Point leans into its new focus on narrative storytelling in a news format with The Prime Effect, an ambitious series exploring how Amazon has impacted the way we work and live. The eight-part series aims to understand how the shopping and technology giant has redefined expectations and service in the modern age. Here & Now’s new co-host, Scott Tong, will lead a new podcast series with Jane Perlez of The New York Times on the gripping, undertold history of how the United States’ relationship with China began 50 years ago and how it has led to our complicated relations with the country today.
WBUR is also announcing plans to produce two brand-new shows, both tackling huge societal issues. One will address an underreported story about a powerful link between the government and our nation’s addiction to guns that began here in Massachusetts, right after the Revolutionary War. The series will explore how gun manufacturing in the Northeast has had a lasting impact on our technology, our history of manufacturing, our legislation and our politics. WBUR’s second new show will be especially unique: a podcast about climate change that imagines the future and asks listeners to play a role in deciding that future. The show, tentatively titled Great Job Everyone, will combine rigorous climate change journalism with futurism and responsible, speculative reporting, all with a goal of inspiring listeners to face humanity’s existential threat together.
Upcoming premieres from WBUR in 2021 and 2022:
Circle Round (Season 5)
Launch: September 7, 2021 (live now!)
Description: The ultimate “kidcast,” WBUR's Circle Round podcast adapts folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich radio for children. The new season features more beloved voices from the stage, screen and NPR championing themes of kindness and generosity to its young and young-at-heart listeners.
Endless Thread (Series debut)
Launch: October 1, 2021
Description: Hosts Amory Sivertson and Ben Brock Johnson will evaluate the origin of memes, how they are defined and spread, and their impact on communication.
Last Seen (Season 2)
Launch: January 2022
Description: Season 1 zeroed in on the largest unsolved art heist in history. Last Seen returns for Season 2 as a podcast about people, places and things that went missing from Boston and all around the world. The stories — curated by WBUR from journalists all over — investigate everything from a missing planet to a lost film to secret offshore art warehouses and other mysteries.
On Point (Daily News Podcast)
Special Series: The Prime Effect with Meghna Chakrabarti
Launch: Fall 2021
Description: WBUR’s On Point dives deep into the online retailer and web provider Amazon, with a multi-part series on how one company shapes the global economy and the way we live and work today.
Here & Now (Daily News Podcast)
Special Series: 50 Years of China/U.S. Relations with Scott Tong and Jane Perlez
Launch: February 2022
Description: In partnership with The New York Times, WBUR will explore the history of the United States’ relationship with China, beginning with Nixon opening up U.S.-China relations and Henry Kissinger’s goals of a covert alliance at the end of the Cold War. The tumultuous past sheds light on the complexity of our relationship with China today.
To learn more about WBUR’s programs and podcasts, please visit wbur.org/podcasts.