Techmeme Brings Its Aggregation Formula to a Daily Podcast

The show aims to be required listening for the tech world

Host Brian McCullough will summarize the day's top tech news and commentary. Getty Images

Techmeme, the online aggregator of record for technology industry news, is adding some audio in the form of a podcast: the Techmeme Ride Home.

Beginning today, the site’s new podcast will appear at 5 p.m. every weekday. Over 20 minutes, host Brian McCullough (from The Internet History podcast) will summarize the day’s top tech news and commentary from around the web and social media.

Plain-vanilla news aggregation is unusual in podcasts. Even in tech, podcasts tend to be personality-driven, more often involving hosts providing commentary on the big news of the week rather than just the news itself. McCullough thinks Techmeme can offer something different.

“The value proposition of aggregation in podcasting is that it does the heavy lifting for the listener,” said McCullough. “‘Here are the five big stories sorted for you. You don’t have to click around to half a dozen sites to catch up.'”

The podcast will draw on the real-time news aggregation work Techmeme’s editors already do for the site while calling attention to the writers and publications who’ve broken the stories, said Techmeme founder Gabe Rivera.

“When you think about it, most of the universe of online media is built on aggregation,” said McCullough. “I’m in the unique position of being able to skim the crop of headlines off the top without having to do the hard work of tracking down the news myself.”

The target audience is a mix of the Techmeme readership, people who work in and around the industry who visit the site throughout the day to stay updated, and a more general audience who might be looking for a single place to catch up.

As a daily afternoon broadcast, The Ride Home meets a similar need to The New York Times’ The Daily and Vox’s Today, Explained—albeit within a narrower channel. McCullough suggests that podcasts, like television and radio, are increasingly moving to dayparting, marking the time of day when they’ll be the most valuable. Virtual assistants and the new smart speaker form factor also put a premium on simple news updates throughout the day—for example, Alexa’s “flash briefings.”

Along with aggregated news and the typical mix of host-read and dynamically inserted ads, the podcast may also include sponsored segments from technology companies. “We’re open to experimenting with brands to see if we could offer a compelling platform for companies to actually break news on,” says McCullough. “We’ll be very selective and have a bias to true news events, not just marketing pushes.”

In lieu of a blog post or placed exclusive, why not a native story on a podcast? It could be a powerful idea, although it all depends on whether Techmeme’s podcast can assemble a large and influential audience. If it becomes required listening, the site might have something. If not, it could be a baton someone else picks up.