MPR’s “In the Loop” goes digital only

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by Erica Mauter • So, uh, what does that mean?

fresh.mn is a cityblog for and about life in the Twin Cities, published by Erica Mauter. Contact erica@fresh.mn

Oops, okay, let me back up. In the Loop is a weekly show by Jeff Horwich (intheloop) and Sanden Totten (sandentotten). It airs Friday evenings. It’s generally about the news of the week. It’s quirky. It’s musical. They’ve hosted a series of story slams as well.

So they just got the word that In the Loop has lost it’s on-air slot and is now “digital only.” My assumption was that they do their same show, only it’s not actually on the radio. They already podcast it, so it’s still radio, right?

Jeff posted a note on In the Loop’s facebook page which explains it a little better.

On Friday’s show, on relatively short notice (less than a day) I needed to announce that we’d be leaving our Friday evening air slot to become a fully digital enterprise.

Exactly what this means, or why it happened, I do not know — it was not my decision. It has upsides and downsides, for the show as well as for me personally. And there are some aspects of it I cannot discuss. But here are some things I can share:

* Sanden and I are still employed by MPR.

* “In The Loop,” as an entity, has a lot of value and loyalty, and still exists until someone says otherwise.

* Right now our podcast (http://is.gd/47N7) and blog (http://is.gd/3kSC) — both of which feed the Facebook page — will be the primary venues for what we produce from week to week.

* We’ll have new freedom from inflexible deadlines (which previously was about 4 pm every Friday) and length (23 minutes and 30 seconds).

* We’ll have new freedom from the worry that we might turn off A) your typical core 55-year-old public radio listener who can’t compute anything other than Robert Seigel and gasps at even mild off-color references; or B) the traditionalists in our own company who might wonder why we these damn kids are being allowed to deviate from the standard, stodgy public radio formula.

* We’ll be working harder than ever to increase ways our own listeners contribute to our content.

* Am I sad to be off the radio? You bet. But hasn’t this whole thing become primarily about online anyway? Yes. It’s bittersweet; the radio angle both helped us and held us back at the same time. But this change doesn’t blow us completely off-course.

* Does any of this mean our bosses won’t make additional decisions a month from now that change things yet again? Ha!

Since this is a discussion post, I guess I can add on additional thoughts later…but that’s all I got for now. Thanks for the supportive notes some of you have left as we enter into our latest evolution.

– Jeff

The first thing that comes to my mind is the NYC-based show Bryant Park Project. It had a similar sensibility in the sense that it catered to a generally younger, less stodgy audience (I think, correct me if I’m wrong on that). It relied heavily on interaction with web users. It had a cult-ish following which was not quite broad enough for NPR’s liking.

MPR seems to be totally schizophrenic between what goes on the air and what they do with their website. They seem to be ahead of the curve as far as website features go (for a mainstream media outlet). It’s really different from their more staid on-air presence (In the Loop perhaps being an exception).

So where would you like to see In the Loop go?

Are you a podcaster? What do you do that you think is super cool that engages your audience that you only wish you could get in front of an MPR-sized audience?

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