When social media ads started popping up several months ago for a new daily journalism podcast called City Cast, I wondered whether it was just a national outlet parachuting into Pittsburgh.
After all, the network has shows in Chicago, Denver, Houston and Salt Lake, and an eye on starting them in five other cities. Started by David Plotz, City Cast is owned by Virginia-based Graham Holdings, along with companies that sell treated wood, run car dealerships and publish Slate magazine.
The show turns out to be something else entirely: People with local roots in Pittsburgh using a template developed in other cities to create something for us here.
Lead producer Matt Stroud has been a local investigative reporter for decades, senior producer Megan Harris worked at 90.5 WESA, newsletter writer Francesca Dabecco came over from The Incline, and host Morgan Moody grew up locally, left for a job at ESPN and returned back home.
The podcasts often sound more like a conversation among friends. Recent episodes have covered serious topics such as bridge safety as well as lighter ones such as dating apps and a local company that apparently sends poop-like substances through the mail.
After a lifetime of listening to broadcast radio, it can feel jarring to hear the hosts occasionally swearing but that’s part of the point, says Harris, who previously produced WESA’s “The Confluence.”
“I think there’s also a place for having open, honest and messier conversations with people in your community,” she says. “Maybe that means less produced today, and maybe it means bubbling with profanity the next because that’s just how some people talk and that’s OK.”
Because City Cast’s owners have deep pockets, the network does not feel immediate pressure to make money, Stroud says. Shows, for now, run commercial-free but the network could eventually experiment with revenue from advertising and memberships.
Comings & Goings
- Post-Gazette labor and technology reporter Lauren Rosenblatt has relocated to The Seattle Times where she recently posted her first byline on, what else but, Starbucks and its plans to expand its supplier chain.
- WTAE-TV welcomes reporter Tori Yorgey, who made brief internet fame after getting hit by a car during a standup report – and continuing to deliver the news. Yorgey grew up in Philadelphia and was working for a station in Huntingdon, West Virginia. WTAE also recently changed up its broadcast lineup.
- WPXI-TV brought home Penn Hills native Talia Kirkland to work as a general assignment reporter. The PG ran a fun story about her starting a school newspaper at Penn Hills High School in the ninth grade.
- Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corp., which runs 90.5 WESA and 91.3 WYEP, hired Michele Klingensmith as director of marketing for both stations and online. She comes to the company from GlaxoSmithKline where, among other roles, she once worked as a brand manager for Tums and Aquafresh.
Andrew Conte, founding director of the Center for Media Innovation at Point Park University, writes the On Media column at NEXTpittsburgh with support from The Heinz Endowments. You can find all of his columns here, and you may email him.