In a Tough Market, Broadcast Veteran Turns to Podcasts

mathisen04162010.jpgConfronted with a grim, unforgiving broadcast-news market, industry veteran Don Mathisen has taken his decades of experiences to a new format — podcasts for The New York Observer.

Mathisen, who has worked in TV and radio for his whole professional career, has worked in markets up and down the East Coast, and spent more than a decade each at WNYC and Bloomberg.

Even with that extensive experience Mathisen has lately had to innovate. “The radio business is in the crapper, frankly,” he says. But as finding steady work on the airwaves got difficult, Mathisen saw an opportunity on the Internet. Especially with the advent of the iPad, print and online media outlets need to focus on multimedia.

“Everybody knows what I’m about to say. Ink on paper is not enough anymore,” says Mathisen. “Just having text stories on a Web site is not enough anymore, either. You have to add video, audio, slideshows, all these other things.”

That’s where he comes in. In addition to doing freelance anchor work at Fox News Radio and a gig with Lou Dobbs, Mathisen has for the past five weeks been interviewing Observer reporters on the paper’s top stories. The resulting audio lives at the top of a given story page. For an example, check out Mathisen’s interview accompanying Alexandria Symonds’ “Lock Your Doors, Patricofs!” The eventual plan, says Mathisen, is to eventually create an Observer radio program that will appear on the paper’s Web site.

Mathisen describes his work with the Observer as a partnership, and says he’s reluctant to discuss the terms of the arrangement.

“Right now, the Observer and I are trying to build something. Who knows what the future holds, but right now I’m focused on making this work for the Observer and for myself,” says Mathisen.