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BBC appoints first ever podcasts commissioning editor with aim of engaging younger listeners

The BBC has appointed its first commissioning editor for podcasts to lead the “podcasting revolution” as the corporation begins to target younger listeners who are less likely to listen to live broadcasts.

Jason Phipps will leave his role as head of audio at The Guardian, which he has held since 2014, to begin leading the BBC’s podcast strategy in May.

Phipps, a former BBC producer, said: “It’s an incredible time to re-join the BBC and be part of a podcasting revolution well underway.

“For podcasters and everyone in the audio community there is a sense that we are at the foothills of an incredible period of innovation and re-invigoration of radio.

“My role will, I hope, be an opportunity for a new generation of native podcasters to deliver great content to hungry ears across the UK.”

At the time of writing, the BBC had four entries in the iTunes podcast chart’s top ten: Friday Night Comedy’s The Now Show, Desert Island Discs, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review, and The Archers.

Phipps will build upon these established titles while simultaneously leading the creation of new series designed purely as podcasts and not for radio broadcast.

The BBC has already begun creating podcasts which are “different in tone and form” to on-air radio and existing titles.

These include series which exist solely as podcasts such as Political Thinking With Nick Robinson and Radio 4’s GrownUpLand.

Shows which can be heard as podcasts first, like Radio 4 conspiracy thriller Tracks, and those which exist completely outside the BBC’s radio network, such as The Boring Talks and Unpopped.

Ben Chapman, head of digital for radio, said: “I’m delighted Jason will be joining us in this important new role as his expertise in the podcast sector is unquestionable.

“Across BBC Radio we’re investing and experimenting in what we’re doing digitally to reinvent our brilliant audio for those less likely to listen on air and making sure younger listeners can enjoy quality, distinctive BBC content when and how they want to.”

The BBC was the first British broadcaster to release podcasts when it made Radio 4’s In Our Time available to download in 2004.

It is now one of the largest podcast producers in the world, with around 240m downloads of BBC podcasts last year.

Phipps is returning to the corporation after working in podcast production and commissioning for a decade, including as a BBC producer for eight years before he joined The Guardian as an executive producer in 2007.

As head of audio at The Guardian, he held overall responsibility for the title’s podcasts produced in London, the US and Australia, and commissions from across its roster of podcasts.

Picture: BBC

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