For Esquire magazine’s first foray into podcasting, the Hearst Corp.-owned publication partnered with one of the rising format’s public media heavyweights. This week, Esquire and PRX announced the launch of “Esquire Classic,” a biweekly podcast that will mine Esquire’s archive of stories, which date back to 1933, for source material.
“We live in a time when everything from the Beatles to the new Dr. Dre album, James Joyce’s 'Ulysses' to the new Jonathan Franzen novel, is available now, instantly, on your phone or tablet,” Tyler Cabot, the director of Esquire Labs, wrote in an email to International Business Times. “Old is new and new is old. Our Esquire Classic podcast is another extension of this concept.”
The debut episode of “Esquire Classic,” “The Falling Man,” focuses on a 2003 Tom Junod feature of the same name about a 9/11 photograph. Editors chose it because it was the most-read story from Esquire’s archive, though Cabot said Esquire’s team will make an effort to produce shows that align with current events and news. Shows will be released every two weeks.
The show, on some level, is designed to entice listeners to subscribe to Esquire's archive for $4.99 per month. "At the same time," Cabot wrote, "we’re hoping to drive people the other way: Here’s the text version of 'The Falling Man' on the Classic site, now go listen to Tom Junod and David Brancaccio go deep into why that story still elicits such passionate reactions from anyone who reads it."
The podcast is a new look for PRX. Esquire is the first major private publisher that PRX, which stands for Public Radio Exchange, has worked with. Asked whether the move to work with the Hearst-owned brand hinted at a change in PRX’s mission to work with public radio, the company’s chief content officer, John Barth, wrote: “PRX works with storytellers of all types. We have an alignment of values, public media values, around great storytelling that changes culture for the better.”
PRX has been at the forefront of audio storytelling since its founding in 2003. And since PRX waded into podcasting last year with the launch of its podcasting network, Radiotopia, it looks poised to continue to gain recognition: Three of the nine pieces that will be honored at the annual Third Coast International Audio Festival later this month were produced by Radiotopia.
That long run of success appealed to Esquire. “We couldn’t have found a better partner,” Cabot wrote. “They innately understood that simply reading classic Esquire stories wouldn’t make for great programming. Instead, we had to take creative chances and do something completely new.”
The first episode of “Esquire Classic” is available on podcast apps everywhere, as well as on SoundCloud.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed a number of Third Coast International Audio Festival Awards to PRX.