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.


How to make a bestseller that lasts (Ryan Holiday, author, 'Perennial Seller')  

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.

Shari Redstone, Vice Chair, Viacom (Code Conference 2017)  

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.

Podcasting is growing up (Nick Quah, founder, Hot Pod)  

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.

Why Hillary Clinton won't admit that she made mistakes (Rebecca Traister, writer at large, New York Magazine)  

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. 

What Peter Thiel’s war against Gawker can tell us about Trump (Brian Knappenberger, director, "Nobody Speak")  

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.

BONUS: Dean Baquet, Executive Editor, The New York Times (Code Conference 2017)  

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.

Meet the Wall Street analyst the big media companies love to hate (Rich Greenfield, analyst, BTIG)  

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.

BONUS Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix (Code Conference 2017)  

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.

BuzzFeed chairman and HuffPost co-founder Ken Lerer on the future of media  

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.

'Better Call Saul' actor Michael McKean doesn't care how you watch  

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.

Why this four-hour Grateful Dead documentary took 14 years to make (Amir Bar-Lev, director, 'Long Strange Trip')  

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.

Information doesn't have to be free (Jessica Lessin, CEO, The Information)  

The Information CEO Jessica Lessin talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about why her news site, which reports on tech and business, puts its content behind a $400-per-year pay wall. Lessin says the default assumption should be that news is paid for because it provides value to people's lives. She also talks about why she left the Wall Street Journal in 2013, what most people get wrong about Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg and why sexual harassment at companies like Uber is the toughest story in tech to crack.

W. Kamau Bell talks about Trump, racism and podcasting  

Comedian, author and TV host W. Kamau Bell talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about the second season of his podcast, "Politically Re-Active," and his CNN show, "United Shades of America." Bell explains why his podcast persona is seemingly different from the Kamau that people see on TV, and how both of those things compare to being a stand-up comic. He also talks about the misconceptions that follow him as a comedian who is "always talking about racism" and why he doesn't mind too much if he bombs at a big, broad comedy club.

Tracking a drug boss across the web (Nick Bilton, author, 'American Kingpin')  

Journalist Nick Bilton talks with Recode's Jason Del Rey about his new book, "American Kingpin." It tells the story of Ross Ulbricht, the programmer and "criminal mastermind" who founded the Silk Road, a notorious online black market where everything from drugs to guns could be bought and sold anonymously. Bilton, a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, also talks about why he left the New York Times in 2016 after more than a decade there, saying he didn't feel challenged by the newspaper's predictability and rigidity. He also argues that, contrary to what the Facebook CEO claims, Mark Zuckerberg is likely running for president — or perhaps planning some other major change that necessitates a heavily photographed tour of the United States.

The New York 'Startup' scene gets a novel (Doree Shafrir, author)  

Doree Shafrir, a writer at BuzzFeed News and the author of "Startup: A Novel," talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about updating the coming-of-age-in-New-York story for the modern media scene, where working at a print magazine is not the holy grail. "Startup" satirizes what happens when a tech reporter uncovers a scandal involving the 28-year-old CEO of a mindfulness app. Shafrir says one of the weirdest ways she has promoted "Startup" is on "Matt and Doree's Eggcellent Adventure," a podcast about in vitro fertilization she hosts with her husband, Matt Mira. She also talks about working at the New York Observer under Jared Kushner and at Gawker when it was a largely obscure, New York-specific website.

How Neil Gaiman's ‘American Gods’ finally made it to TV  

Author Neil Gaiman talks with Recode’s Peter Kafka about the TV adaptation of his novel ‘American Gods,’ which debuts April 30 on Starz. Gaiman says ‘American Gods’ is a ‘big, sprawling’ story that could have never been made when the book came out, in 2001 — the rise of prestige TV and consumers’ online binging habits made it possible. He also talks about working in comics, what he thinks of President Trump, and why he’s fascinated by — but not making content for — VR.

Inside the Trump White House (Mike Allen, co-founder, Axios)  

Axios co-founder Mike Allen talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about demystifying the chaotic news of the world in his daily newsletter, Axios AM. Allen says the palace intrigue in the White House is more complicated than it may seem at first blush and explains how he has kept his access to the Trump White House even as coverage of the new administration has soured. He also chats about his previous job writing for D.C. insiders at Politico and how Axios is trying to reach the much broader audience of busy people everywhere who want to be smarter.

Why TV is different from YouTube (Reza Izad, CEO, Studio71)  

Studio71 CEO Reza Izad talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about how the business of online video has changed in recent years. Izad came to Studio71 when the German TV station ProSieben bought an earlier company that he co-founded, Collective Digital Studio, and he has worked with YouTube celebrities such as Fred, Lilly Singh and Roman Atwood. He believes "everything that’s successful in entertainment is an outlier" and talks about how digital stars can make the jump to other online platforms and traditional TV. Izad also chats about why Facebook's video ascendancy is a question of when, not if.

Uber investor Jason Calacanis doesn't want to hear your idea  

Angel investor Jason Calacanis talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his media company Inside, and why it plans to launch a new email newsletter every week in 2017, for a total of more than 60 by year's end. He also chats about his past companies, including Mahalo and Weblogs Inc., and how he became one of Uber's first investors. Calacanis explains his angel investing philosophy, which favors founders who have built something over those who just come to meetings with an unrealized idea.

How to be a rock musician in 2017 (Craig Finn, 'We All Want the Same Things')  

Singer, songwriter and The Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn talks with Recode's Peter Kafka about his new solo album, "We All Want the Same Things." Finn still enjoys the life of a touring musician but explains why it's unlikely that The Hold Steady will do another big multi-city tour in the near future. Even though the world is politically divided, he says, music can still play a big role in building communities and friendships among strangers. Finn also discusses working with Bruce Springsteen, opening for The Rolling Stones and adapting lyrics written by George R.R. Martin into a song for the "Game of Thrones" TV show.

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