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.


Did racism motivate Trump's voters? (Stephen Dubner, co-author, 'Freakonomics')  

Journalist and "Freakonomics" co-author Stephen Dubner talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how behavioral economics can explain Donald Trump's victory, arguing that racism and xenophobia are symptoms of a deeper-felt economic resentment. He also discusses widespread misunderstandings about probability and offers a partial defense of poll aggregators like FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver. Later in the show, Dubner explains how "Freakonomics" became a mini media empire, why he's now almost all-in on podcasting and how Bruce Springsteen convinced him to quit rock and roll.

Trump-related 'terror and hysteria' isn't justified (Ken Kurson, editor-in-chief, Observer)  

Observer editor-in-chief Ken Kurson talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about running the online newspaper published by Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Kurson says Kushner has no day-to-day influence on the Observer. He argues that reactions to his alleged ethical lapses — such as his sitting with the Trump family at the Republican National Convention — are overblown or misguided, and says Hillary Clinton's supporters are overreacting to their loss. Kurson also says some journalists and pollsters who mis-called the election should resign or be fired, and explains why staying off Twitter has been good for his psyche.

Musicians who fight Spotify are 'so f-cking dumb' (Bob Lefsetz, author, Lefsetz Letter)  

Bob Lefsetz, author of the influential music industry newsletter the Lefsetz Letter, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the winners and losers in the modern music business. Lefsetz says the traditional music label model was one of artificial scarcity, and there's no going back now that streaming services like YouTube and Spotify have arisen. He also argues that Netflix is doomed and VR is being mis-sold to the public. Later in the show, he reflects on the election of Donald Trump and why he's skeptical of the New York Times' ability to challenge the incoming U.S. president.

The 'Star Trek' reboot could have naked aliens (Jim Lanzone, CEO, CBS Interactive)  

Jim Lanzone, the CEO of CBS Interactive and chief digital officer of CBS, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the balance between free broadcast TV and paid online subscriptions. CBS has so far convinced more than a million people to pay $6 a month for its online service, CBS All Access. Lanzone says the company hopes to court even more subscribers with digital-only shows, including a spinoff of "The Good Wife" and a reboot of "Star Trek," which won't have to play by traditional FCC rules around nudity and swearing. He also makes the case for CBS' tech site CNET and discusses how he came to the company, via a digital TV guide site called Clicker.

You've outraged the internet? Here's how to apologize. (Bryan Goldberg, CEO, Bustle)  

Bustle CEO Bryan Goldberg talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about launching a site aimed at millennial women — and why having a man at the top made a lot of people wary. Goldberg bragged a bit too aggressively and had to spend several months explaining his words, but says "apologizing is great." He also talks about how Bustle rose to 40 million monthly pageviews, why it doesn't care as much about Facebook video views and why he'd rather hire young women out of journalism school than media stars who will bring attention to themselves.

How tech PR works (Brooke Hammerling, founder, Brew Media)  

Brew Media founder Brooke Hammerling talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how she created a PR firm for some of the biggest names in tech and why she sold it to Sigmund Freud's great-grandson. Hammerling has no plans to leave Brew, however. She says she prefers to work with clients who don't think of her company as hired help, but rather as part of the team. She recounts her experience being verbally attacked by a prominent male tech blogger, but says sexism today is even worse in Hollywood than it is in Silicon Valley.

Smosh and ScreenJunkies boss Keith Richman: We're looking into TV  

Defy Media President Keith Richman, who oversees popular YouTube channels Smosh, ScreenJunkies, Clevver and others, talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how Janet Jackson's breast-baring "wardrobe malfunction" at the 2004 Super Bowl inspired him to get into web video. Richman says Defy's ability to hop on video platforms early and figure out what makes them tick has helped the company reach 70 million YouTube subscribers who watch 800 million videos per month. But the ad dollars are still better on TV, so Defy is thinking about how its shows might work there, too.

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.

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