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Video and podcast: Dispatches From the Golden Age of Audio

Speakers Cynthia Graber and Al Letson

Cynthia Graber and Al Letson on how podcasting struggles to create gold standards for building shows that will be popular and financially sustainable.

Podcasting has given rise to new voices and new, highly personal ways to tell stories. But as the medium expands, it struggles to create gold standards for building shows that will be popular and financially sustainable. Cynthia Graber, co-host and co-creator of Gastropod, about the science and history of food, joins Al Letson, host of the investigative reporting show Reveal and creator of Errthang, his own personal “mixtape of delight,” to dive into the secrets of successful podcasting and what the future might hold for this intimate form of media.


Cynthia Graber is an award-winning radio producer and print reporter who’s covered science, technology, food, agriculture, and any other stories that catch her fancy for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in magazines and radio shows including Fast Company, BBC Future, Slate, the Boston Globe, Studio 360, PRI’s The World, Living on Earth, and many others. She’s a regular contributor to the podcast Scientific American’s 60-Second Science and in 2014, she co-founded the Gastropod food science podcast alongside author Nicola Twilley. Cynthia’s radio and print awards include those from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of Environmental Journalists, and the international Institute of Physics.

Al Letson has received national recognition and built a devoted fan base with soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work. He established himself early in his career as a heavyweight in the Poetry Slam Movement, which garnered artistic credibility and renown. Performing on a number of national, regional and local stages including HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, CBS’s Final Four PreGame Show and commercial projects for Sony, the Florida Times Union, Adobe Software, and the Doorpost Film Project, Al has honed his professional voice and artistic sensibilities into a unique brand that is all his own. After winning the Public Radio Talent Quest, Al received a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to create three episodes of his public radio show concept State of the Re:Union. His company finished their first grant in August of 2009 and has just been awarded one of the largest public radio grants every given to a single project to produce a full season of shows.

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MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing offers an innovative academic program that applies critical analysis, collaborative research, and design across a variety of media arts, forms, and practices.

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