Re/code Media with Peter Kafka

Re/code Media with Peter Kafka

United States

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.


BuzzFeed's video boss Ze Frank on going viral at scale  

BuzzFeed Entertainment Group president Ze Frank talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how his newly re-organized video team is developing shows for YouTube, Facebook and Snapchat — and also TVs and movie theaters. Frank says online videos are crossing borders and boundaries that text and still images couldn't penetrate, but he acknowledges that some bits of culture may be lost as entertainment goes global. He also shares the behind-the-scenes story of Tasty, BuzzFeed Food's viral video juggernaut, which has attracted more likes on Facebook than Beyoncé.

Ex-Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau: I'm afraid of a 'smarter Trump'  

Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for President Obama and the host of The Ringer's podcast "Keepin' It 1600," talks to Recode's Peter Kafka about how he got to the White House and why he can never totally quit politics. He predicts Hillary Clinton will win the presidency on Nov. 8 but explains why her speaking style is so much less conversational than Obama's. Favreau expects that Donald Trump will launch a new TV venture for his followers after the election, and says he supports the GOP's "never-Trumpers" because he fears that a smarter version of Trump will run in future campaigns.

Donald Trump is still a 'short-fingered vulgarian' (Kurt Andersen, co-founder, Spy)  

Kurt Andersen, co-founder of Spy magazine and host of WNYC and PRI's Studio 360, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about branding Donald Trump a "short-fingered vulgarian in the 1980s and how Trump has changed (or not) since then. Andersen says the real estate mogul flirted with running for president as early as 1987, but that over time, the fantasy became more and more real. He also discusses the organizations Spy influenced — including Gawker and "Last Week Tonight" — and why he now likens podcasting to the rise of public radio 40 years ago.

Behind the scenes of 'Vice News Tonight' (Josh Tyrangiel, executive vice president, Vice)  

Josh Tyrangiel, executive vice president for content and news at Vice, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the company's new weeknightly TV show, "Vice News Tonight" on HBO. To distance itself from traditional newscasts run for decades by the likes of CBS, ABC and NBC, Vice is doing away with a central news desk and news anchor, focusing instead on finding visual ways to tell stories that may get short shrift elsewhere. The big goal: Get millennials watching, which Tyrangiel says can be done so long as "Vice News Tonight" adds value to young people's lives.

Keith Olbermann: Don’t blame Donald Trump on the media  

"The Closer" host and former ESPN and MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the 2016 presidential race and the rise of Donald Trump. Olbermann says Trump is not a totally new phenomenon, noting that political demagogues like Huey Long and Joe McCarthy lived before the era of cable TV. He also discusses his past jobs in cable news, the Netflix-influenced future of media and how he cured his addiction to arguing with Twitter trolls.

"Call Your Girlfriend" co-host Aminatou Sow on how to make a hit podcast  

Aminatou Sow, who co-hosts "Call Your Girlfriend" with Ann Friedman, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about why she started podcasting: A man said that "women don’t make podcasts." Sow explains how she and Friedman leveraged their network of media influencers, including "Girls" star Lena Dunham, to climb the iTunes charts, acknowledging that "we kind of cheated." She also discusses why she's through with San Francisco, the future of "Call Your Girlfriend" beyond podcasting and why she enjoys the fact that Snapchat makes her feel old.

Skip Bayless: Why I left ESPN for Fox Sports 1  

Skip Bayless, the co-host of Fox Sports 1's "Skip and Shannon: Undisputed," talks about his recent decision to leave ESPN after 12 years on the air for its smaller Rupert Murdoch-owned rival in Los Angeles. He tells Recode's Peter Kafka that he needed to get out of his comfort zone — and out of ESPN's hometown of Bristol, Connecticut. Bayless also discusses the ways Fox is different from Disney-owned ESPN, the unlikely way he got into sports journalism and why he doesn't pay attention to the internet, even though he has more than two million Twitter followers.

CNN's Brian Stelter: No, CNN is not biased for Trump  

Brian Stelter, host of "Reliable Sources" on CNN, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about being a cable news host during the historic 2016 presidential election. He argues that the media needs to re-evaluate how it treats politicians' lies, pointing to the differing treatment of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Although CNN gets good ratings from his controversial statements and recently hired Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, Stelter says the network has not given the Republican candidate attention because it's good for business. Instead, he wonders why more presidential candidates couldn't learn from and emulate Trump's media savvy.

Gigaom founder Om Malik on the virtues of a heart attack  

True Ventures partner Om Malik talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his varied career in tech journalism, including the launch and eventual shutdown of his eponymous site Gigaom. Malik describes himself as a workaholic journalist, but a heart attack in 2007 forced him to reconsider his priorities. He also discusses the macro trends of the startup world, his first stint as a venture capitalist in the late 1990s and why Apple should buy Netflix.

The New York Times has to think like a tech startup (Sam Dolnick and Clifford Levy, editors, New York Times)  

New York Times associate editor Sam Dolnick and assistant masthead editor Clifford Levy talk with Recode's Edmund Lee about how the 164-year-old newspaper is modernizing for the web. Levy reflects on the now-defunct NYT Now mobile app, which showed the Times's staff the value of collaboration among departments. The paper must learn to experiment and sometimes fail, the editors say, much like a tech company in Silicon Valley. Dolnick, one of the potential heirs to the paper as a member of the Ochs-Sulzberger family which owns it, shares the behind-the-scenes story of the NYT's first foray into virtual reality last year.

Skift CEO Rafat Ali: Small media companies are beautiful  

Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how media entrepreneurship has evolved since he launched his first company, PaidContent, in 2002. Ali left PaidContent after an acquisition by the Guardian (that went nowhere) and launched Skift to write about the travel business for people who work in the travel business. Today, Skift is a profitable boutique company with 29 employees, and Ali explains why he's happy to keep it small and let it grow slowly.

Gawker wasn't always mean (Elizabeth Spiers, founding editor,  

Elizabeth Spiers, the first person to write and edit, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about launching the site in 2003, and reflects on how it has evolved since then. Now that Gawker Media has been sold to Univision for $135 million, many wonder how it might change, but Spiers says Gawker has already changed plenty over its history. She also discusses her stint working for Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and her new company, The Insurrection, an agency focusing on virtual reality content.

James Andrew Miller examines Hollywood's top agents in 'Powerhouse'  

James Andrew Miller, author of the new book "Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood's Creative Artists Agency," talks with Recode's Peter Kafka. Miller says the Creative Artists Agency, or CAA, transformed the entertainment business forever, led by the "yin and yang" personalities of Michael Ovitz and Ron Meyer. He also talks about one of his previous books, an oral history of ESPN, and what really happened to ousted Grantland founder Bill Simmons.

We're not startup bros anymore (Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman, co-founders, Genius)  

Genius co-founders Ilan Zechory and Tom Lehman talk with Recode's Peter Kafka about how they and their business are maturing. Genius, which started as music-annotating service RapGenius, is now striking deals with major media companies to let users and brands insert factoids into content across the web. Zechory and Lehman discuss how they're trying to make Genius annotations omnipresent, and address allegations that their platform facilitates abuse.

So, you’ve been shamed by Twitter (Virginia Heffernan, author, "Magic and Loss")  

Virginia Heffernan, author of the new book "Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art," talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the physical things we risk losing as we digitize more and more of our lives. She praises Snapchat's "brilliance" for preserving impermanent media and talks about what happened when critics of an article about creationism threw her into the "Twitter coliseum." To cope with the social media onslaught, she came to imagine her Twitter handle, @page88, as a tougher, wittier persona who could take the abuse on her behalf.

Gary Vaynerchuk can't wait for the startup armageddon  

Investor and VaynerMedia co-founder Gary Vaynerchuk talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how he parlayed early success on Google AdWords and YouTube into an agency that helps other brands succeed online. A social media celebrity in his own right, Vaynerchuk calls himself an "entrepreneur through and through" but says tech and media are riddled with phony entrepreneurs who are heading for an "armageddon." He laments today's rising startup valuations as a worrying sequel to the early-2000s dotcom crash.

Donald Trump is bad for democracy (Jacob Weisberg, chairman, Slate Group)  

Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his podcast Trumpcast, which obsesses over presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and his following. Weisberg says Trump will leave a big mark on American politics even if he loses to Hillary Clinton in November. He also discusses how Slate has changed since it launched as a digital magazine in 1996, what social networks it is and isn't using and why media companies should be wary of Facebook's growing power.

Documentarian Alex Gibney says the Stuxnet virus was a "new kind of weapon"  

"Zero Days" director Alex Gibney talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his new film's focus on the Stuxnet virus, which sabotaged the Iranian nuclear program. He compares Stuxnet's attack to the first nuclear bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and calls for countries to open a dialogue about cyberweapons. Gibney also discusses his other documentaries, including "Going Clear," "Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine" and "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room."

Daring Fireball's John Gruber: "I'm a writer first and a businessman second"  

Daring Fireball founder and sole employee John Gruber talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about running a one-man media company. Gruber has been writing about Apple since 2002 but he estimates that his podcast — which started in 2013 — now represents half of Daring Fireball's revenue. He explains how he got into writing in the early days of web blogging and why he has opted to monetize his site by having only one sponsor per week. Gruber also chats about Steve Jobs's legacy, why he doesn't love the Apple Watch and the alleged influence of Apple's corporate team on his writing.

​Steve Jobs "literally caught me with my pants down" (Brian Lam, founder, The Wirecutter)  

The Wirecutter founder Brian Lam talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about creating a modern update to Consumer Reports that makes best-in-class buying recommendations across a range of products. He also discusses his previous life as editor in chief of Gawker's technology blog Gizmodo, which famously obtained and wrote about the iPhone 4 before it was released. That led to a testy phone call from Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who "really didn’t like losing that mini chess game," Lam says.

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