A Peek Inside Brian Boyer's Digital Life

Dec 18, 2014

Credit Brian Boyer #selfie

People involved in public media share how they wade through the digital news deluge. Find past Digital Life features here.

This month we heard from Brian Boyer; he runs the NPR Visuals Team. When he’s not making cool s*!#, you can find him blogging and tweeting about his many experiments and schooling us on what makes great Chicago deep dish pizza. Read on for his advice for stations and why he’s stopped listening to terrestrial radio.

Three daily must-reads:
I get nearly all of my reading from folks I follow on Twitter. And books and magazines. Currently reading the latest issue of Lucky Peach, Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross, and The Mind's Eye by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Just finished Just Enough Research by Erika Hall, and highly recommend it.

Three podcasts you listen to regularly/just discovered:
I’ve only recently started listening to podcasts. I’ve been conducting an experiment for the last month, in which I don’t listen to any terrestrial radio. It’s been enlightening. I’ve been listening to Serial and Startup, and Wiretap, a CBC program I used to listen to on WBEZ before moving to Washington.

Three people you follow (online) regularly:
I don’t know how to answer this question, so I’ll answer a different one: What do you watch online? Star Trek, every day. Already through TNG and DS9 (that’s 354 episodes!), currently finishing season 2 of TOS. Then TAS. Then, I don’t know, Voyager? Ugh. Life is hard.

Three accounts you'd pay to follow on Twitter:
Paul Ford 
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Picard Tips

Three guilty pleasures online:
No such thing. Embrace the things that you love.

First thing you check in the morning:
My calendar. Then Instagram.

Last thing you check at night:
My calendar. Then Instagram.

Favorite news consumption time saver:
I keep my Twitter follow list short. Every few weeks I prune it back to keep things interesting. Listening to NPR in the morning helps, too. :)

Go-to local news source:
WAMU, but since I stopped listening to terrestrial radio, that’s been missing. One big result of my no-radios experiment is that I’m less informed about local news. This is troubling.

Your most used mobile reporting tool or app:

I don’t report. But I strongly encourage folks who do to set up a PANDA for their newsroom. If you’re clever in how you implement it, your PANDA can email you about the news before it’s a thing. Drop me an email if you’d like to talk about how PANDA can make your newsroom smarter. [Ed note: Brian is on the board of the PANDA project]

Words of wisdom for stations as they go forward with their digital efforts:
As a lifelong radio listener it kills me to say this, but terrestrial radio is going away. There’s no way around it. I threw out my clock radio when I got an iPhone. Nobody under 35 keeps radios in their house.

But *audio* is still awesome. It fits into modern living in a way that newspapers and websites don’t. People still cook breakfast and drive to work and clean their houses and want something to listen to. But the user interface is harder now — it’s not as simple as flipping the power switch on your radio (which you only ever tune to one station). Right now, the simplest way to listen is to turn on the TV and look away. So maybe we need to be on TV. I don’t know. We’re experimenting with this.