Businessweek.com’s Byrne: ‘I Am a Little Surprised at the Growth of This Medium’

July 19, 2007

Businessweek.com served more than one million podcast downloads in June, suggesting that after two years of podcasting, they have finally figured out how to leverage their 4.7 million weekly offline readers to the online destination. “All you have to do is a long daily commute into a city or a workout in a fitness center to know that there are tens of millions of potential listeners out there for this content,” said John A. Byrne, executive editor of Businessweek.com, in an email. “But I am a little surprised at how the growth of this medium is still very hot.”

The Cover Story podcast, which, as the name suggests, complements the weekly magazine’s cover story bringing staff writers and editors into the mix. “I want a listener to think he’s sitting at the bar hearing a candid and casual conversation that is both interesting and substantive. I try to have some fun with it, to get the reporter to reveal what first turned him on to the tale, what his or her editor took out of the story, what had to be cut from it to fit into assigned space, what most surprised the journalist, how hard it was to get the story. In other words, the story behind the story.”

The Cover story podcast even generates its own fan mail. “People write in as if I’m a long-time friend,” says Byrne. “It’s great … We’re getting more than 400,000 downloads on the cover podcast a month. That’s up over 91% from a year ago.”

The second most popular online feature is The Welch Way. Suzy Welch, who left the Harvard Business Review under a cloud, ultimately marrying former GE CEO Jack Welch, co-hosts Businessweek.com’s podcast with her husband. “Their column in the magazine is one of the best read things we do,” says Byrne. “In that column, Jack and Suzy speak with one voice. But in the podcast, guests can hear a more nuanced discussion. Jack and Suzy don’t always agree, despite how the column reads. So in the podcast, you often get to hear a spirited debate between the two of them. They’re terrific together.”

BusinessWeek’s weekly round-up of news called, not surprisingly, The Business Week, is Executive Editor John A. Byrne’s favorite. “We launched it in early May. It’s hosted by our opinion editor Jim Ellis who does an absolutely brilliant job reviewing the week’s most important business, financial and economic news …More than a single podcast, it’s a celebration of BusinessWeek’s best and brightest.”

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