National Press Club

Update-1 passes 150-episode milestone, promoting Club mission on podcast platform

August 29, 2019 | By Kristina Groennings | ksgroennings@gmail.com

Adam Konowe (l) and Mike Hempen are co-vice chairs of the National Press Club Broadcast/Podcast Team and have been instrumental in leading the Club's podcast, Update-1, to its 150th episode.

Adam Konowe (l) and Mike Hempen are co-vice chairs of the National Press Club Broadcast/Podcast Team and have been instrumental in leading the Club's podcast, Update-1, to its 150th episode.

A recent episode of Update-1, the National Press Club podcast, was not only a milestone for the initiative, it also captures how the effort promotes Club priorities on an increasingly popular platform.

The topic of the the Aug. 14 program -- the 150th episode since the podcast's inception in 2013 -- was the creation of a memorial in Washington dedicated to a free press and fallen journalists.

The theme was “poignant and very appropriate given that the mission statement of the podcast is to cover topics that reflect the Press Club’s mission,” said Adam Konowe, co-vice chair of the Club Broadcast/Podcast Team.

The topics covered by Update-1 usually center on the journalism profession, press freedom, communications, Club activities, Club members or something in the news. Update- 1 can be found on the Club website, iTunes, Stitcher and TuneIn.

The 150th episode typified the programming.

“It’s the essence of what the podcast is all about," Broadcast/Podcast Team co-vice chair Mike Hempen said of the 150th episode. "It’s something about journalism – something involving the Press Club – and it met our mission statement to a T.”

Another compelling Update-1 episode was about Austin Tice, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria.

“Here you have at the National Press Club the parents of a journalist who’s been missing for eight years, and they’re still talking about how optimistic they are to have his safe return," Hempen said. "That’s something that really resonated with people."

That the 150th podcast was particularly reflective of the mission was unintentional.

“We didn’t set out for the 150th to be in any way outwardly celebratory. It was just another podcast,” Konowe said.

All-volunteer effort

But producing an Update-1 episode every week is itself an accomplishment for the Broadcast/Podcast Team.

“We’ve gotten through 150 in less than six years with one hundred percent volunteer effort,” Konowe said.

The Broadcast/Podcast Team is an extension of a broadcast task force formed in 2006 to provide programming to XM Satellite Radio. Mark Hamrick spearheaded the task force. Hamrick has chaired the team ever since except for a few years around his term as Club president in 2011 when Ken Mellgren led the team.

Update-1 was Hamrick’s idea.

When the Club’s XM relationship ended upon the Sirius Satellite Radio merger, “[t]he podcast world had become very omnipresent and it was a virtual no-brainer that the committee should be involved in podcast production. So we reformulated the team and reformulated the concept,” he said.

Professional development opportunity

The first podcast created by Hempen launched in October 2013. The podcasts were a way to “give our committee members hands-on experience with something that is very progressive, something that is very much in vogue,” Hempen said.

This signified a departure from the Club’s print-centric history.

“The print tradition is one that is pretty well ensconced, but to the degree that we can represent new technologies within the Club through our activities – we do take that very seriously,” Hamrick said.

The Broadcast/Podcast Team actively recruits additional volunteers, who benefit from professional development. Hamrick stressed that serving on the team is a great example of “how Club activities are important for careers,” noting that a former team member currently hosts the Wall Street Journal’s popular podcast “The Future of Everything.”

The team also takes field trips to studios like CBS and CNN, and hosts dinners honoring broadcast industry notables.

All Club members are encouraged to submit ideas for podcasts.

“It’s not a closed process by any stretch of the imagination," Hamrick said. "That’s essentially why it’s been successful. It’s a living, breathing podcast that has had a number of different ideas coming its way.”

Future growth

The future of Update- 1 is increasingly technology-forward and prolific. Mobile phones present an opportunity to do more podcasts in the field.

“We have the ability to go where the story takes us,” Konowe said.

The team anticipates Update-1 production will continue to grow.

“We’re going at a pace right now – the quality and the quantity of the podcast picked up and we’re continuing that this year,” Hempen said. “I don’t see any end in sight.”