“The reach is just skyrocketing”

Just one week after launching a new podcast, and UM J-school assistant professor Jule Banville’s already tackled an eclectic array of subject matter, including a segment about the weird things people touch.
 
“The idea of this is to be a mix,” Banville says.

Last week, Jule Banville unveiled a new podcast called Last best StoriesBanville aims to use her Montana-centric podcast, called Last Best Stories, to offer a venue for the best student work and also, as she says, “independent producers who are slugging it out.”

One Last Best Stories producer, Lacy Roberts, is a Missoula local who’s earning a master’s degree from the University of California Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism and has already accumulated an impressive broadcasting resume. Roberts in her Last Best Stories podcast, “How the West was Won,” delivers a tongue-and-cheek take on the perception easterners have of Montanans. It’s a perspective that looks a lot like a John Wayne movie.  
 
Banville says she hopes Last Best Stories will tap the public’s expanding appetite for podcasts. Even before last year’s rollout of Sarah Koenig’s hit, “Serial,” which averaged 1.5 million downloads per broadcast, podcast listenership was steadily growing. According to a report released last month by Edison Research, 33 percent of Americans have listened to such online radio broadcasts. That’s up from 11 percent in 2006.
 
“The reach is just skyrocketing,” Banville says.
 
Producers like podcasts, too, Banville says. That’s in part because the online platform frees them from the time restrictions inherent to traditional radio programming. “There’s so much more flexibility,” she says.
 
While the Last Best Stories segment titled, “The weirdest place you’ve ever put your hand,” is brief, it stands out for creativity. Segment producer and J-school student Sean Robb garnered colorful answers to the prompt ranging from, “in a box of live hand grenades,” to, “up a little kid’s bloody nose.”
 
Last Best Stories is available online through iTunes, the Public Radio Exchange and at: http://lastbeststories.org
 
Posted July 20, 2015