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But perhaps no company has staked more on video than Buzz Feed, which just accepted million in VC investment, largely to expand its Buzz Feed Motion Pictures division, which racked up a stunning 4.5 billion views in 2014.While Slate certainly hasn’t ignored video (it produces some of its own original programming and regularly aggregates viral videos from around the web), its podcast offerings are much more substantial, having developed fervent, almost fanatical followings from listeners, many of whom are willing to line up around the block just to attend a live recording.

“A ton of people who were Serial fans started listening to it and so it brought a whole new set of listeners into the Slate podcasting orbit, which was terrific,” said Julia Turner, Slate’s editor-in-chief.

That orbit of which she speaks has grown substantially in recent years.

“He said, ‘Political Gabfest is sponsored by…well, you know who it’s sponsored by,’ and the whole audience yelled ‘!

’ When that happened I was like, OK, that’s pretty effective advertising.” Because Slate doesn’t have to deal with the constraints of traditional radio broadcasting, it’s been able to experiment with the form over the past decade.

But Slate made a very early bet, long before the mainstream adoption of podcasting was a forgone conclusion, by investing heavily in the audio format, positioning itself to ride the wave as millions of new consumers purchased smartphones and eventually realized that they could download audio files for on-demand listening.

It made that bet while many of its news media competitors shifted much of their focus to online video.

After spending a decade in radio, he had assumed that it was the most intimate medium, but he found podcasting to be one step deeper, in that listeners actively subscribe to a show and in doing so feel like they’re joining a club.

At no point was this more evident than at the first recording of Political Gabfest that Slate opened up to a live audience.

So why did Slate see so much success while other news outlets, like The New York Times and Boston Globe, scaled back their audio offerings in favor of video?

To hear about Slate’s entry into podcasts is to learn about the genesis of the medium itself, because it was a participant almost from the very beginning, entering the scene not long after Dannie Gregoire first coined the word “podcasting.” Bowers had been working for nearly a decade as a correspondent for NPR, on beats ranging from the London bureau to the White House, when, in 2003, he was brought on to work on a collaboration between Slate and NPR — a news magazine show called Day to Day.

The Serial Spoiler Special — the Slate podcast that, each week, analyzed the most recent Serial episode — was Slate’s quickest podcast launch if you measure the time between its ideation and debut.

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