The Frequency is a daily news podcast Vermont Public Radio launched on April 1st, 2020, two weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic changed how we all work and live. Listeners were looking to trusted news sources for more updates, and listening habits were shifting. VPR decided to create a new show with personality -- while working in completely remote settings.
The podcast both maintains a professionalism necessary to convey serious information and a levity allowed by the podcast format. Each episode runs roughly 15 minutes long and includes a section with headlines, then a feature story and/or a two-way that was filed for broadcast. It repurposes broadcast material for a streaming audience, both in how people can get it and what it sounds like -- scripts are rewritten with a more conversational tone, often with room for back-and-forth between the co-hosts. This recrafting is focused towards listeners, making the delivery of news personable and relatable in a manner we hope builds trust in VPR as a news organization.
This has proved successful, with the podcast regularly surpassing 100,000 downloads a month in a state with just over 600,000 residents. One listener wrote to say that the show is “important, interesting, brief and true,” which is exactly what it aims to be. It’s one of a few daily news shows that exist at public radio stations around the country; another station hoping to start something similar reached out to hear how VPR had done it. On the other hand, it’s unlike any other public radio daily news show out there. With no reservations about experimentation, the show has adopted some recurring segments, accumulated some running gags, and continues to look for new things to try. It has evolved over the past ten months, and will continue to do so as the needs of our audience change.