You can think of the New Republic’s newest podcast, Primary Concerns with Brian Beutler, as an experiment. For host Brian Beutler, it’s a chance to explore and work within a new medium. For the New Republic’s nascent podcasting endeavors, it’s an opportunity to play with and shape the idea of what a TNR politics podcast feels like.
The focus of the weekly podcast for the near future is the primary season. “We figured a good way to get the notion of New Republic politics podcasts launched was to center it around the primaries themselves–the debates, the outcomes, what the political news around the primaries means for the parties, the candidates, the country’s future and try to build from there,” Beutler tells FishbowlDC.
There is no set plan for what comes after the primaries, but Beutler hopes the podcast will continue beyond, expanding into general election and politics coverage.
The timing, with the debut podcast arriving after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary, is owed to, as Beutler puts it, “the vicissitudes of getting a new product launched.” But Beutler sees an advantage in having had two contests transpire before Primary Concern’s launch: the outcome confirmed that there would be material for the podcast for weeks to come.
“There was some possibility before Iowa that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were going to have very clear paths to their party’s nominations, and that’s not nearly as clear anymore and so there’s some logic to starting it now…because we know there’s going to be a lot of news there and the race won’t be decided for weeks and months,” he says.
The tone Beutler is setting with the podcast has developed out of two experiences, one professional, one personal. He’s looking to what he has learned in doing media spots, as well the sense and scope of language he uses when talking politics with family and friends. “I think that there’s a tendency in a lot of media to over-stylize the way that we communicate about politics,” he says. “I think that what I found is that I’m able to produce a better product, and also enjoy myself more and also hopefully make the podcasts themselves more listenable by just being very casual.”
Today’s inaugural episode, out now, features Washington Post national political correspondent Dave Weigel, a friend of Beutler’s, as a guest.
Primary Concerns is the third podcast for The New Republic, joining Intersection–Jamil Smith‘s look at race, gender and identity–and Grierson & Leitch, a podcast about movies from Tim Grierson and Will Leitch.
And if you’re going to check out Primary Concerns, one thing you should note is that Beutler really wants to know what you think. It’s something he mentions in the introduction and reiterates during our conversation, hoping that listeners “send me constructive feedback so we can make the podcast something that’s useful for people.”