Things get confusing from those early days of podcasting, that old-school/new-school cross-hit wonder. This is why, writes Slate podcast EP/Panoply co-founder and chief content officer Andy Bowers, “It’s a little tough to host a true celebration without addressing one nagging question: When did the Slate Political Gabfest in its current form actually begin?”
It’s a highly contested question in the Slate universe, but one thing is definite. It was 2005:
The simple and irrefutable answer is, the Gabfest started in 2005. Or maybe the beginning of 2006.
Here, at any rate, is Bowers’ account of the Political Gabfest origin story:
I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and I’d noticed that our weekly editorial conference calls were far more interesting and entertaining than many news shows I heard on radio or TV. So on a trip to the Slate D.C. office, I grabbed one of our newest staff members at the time, the dashing, funny, and brilliant political writer John Dickerson, and asked him to corral fellow staffers Timothy Noah, Jack Shafer, and one David Plotz into a conference room. It happened to be Oct. 28, the day Dick Cheney’s chief of staff Scooter Libby was indicted by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson leak investigation. I pointed them toward a few microphones I’d set up and said, “Discuss.” I still recall my own incredulous glee that I could simply drop a few mics into a room and call it a radio show.
Bowers goes on to detail how the show’s host setup kept rearranging itself until something more permanent stuck, and recounts the show’s milestones along the way.
Bowers/Slate have an interesting vantage point from which to look back at their flagship podcast. Not only has Slate substantially grown its podcast offerings in the past decade, it has, with the establishment of Panoply in February, created an entire podcasting network, one that currently has 23 partners and offers more than 80 shows.