Today, Al Jazeera Media Network launched Jetty, a new audio-first media brand to connect listeners around the world with spoken audio experiences that are engaging, challenging and consequential.
Building from the success of AJ+, Jetty is developing original news and entertainment for global podcasting audiences while working closely with long-established Al Jazeera brands, such as Al Jazeera English.
“Podcasting has immense room for growth in the U.S. and globally,” said Kaizar Campwala, general manager of Jetty. “At AJ+, Al Jazeera engages an amazing audience of diverse, socially conscious folks we like to call ‘the new mainstream.’ Many of them haven’t yet ritualized podcasting in their lives. We’re setting out to connect new listeners around the world to personality-driven shows and hosts that are expansive, challenging and inspiring.”
“Today’s news consumers don’t limit themselves to one channel, and neither should news producers,” said Dr. Yaser Bishr, EVP of Digital for Al Jazeera Media Network. “Jetty opens up a critical new avenue for Al Jazeera to serve its audience with the powerful content that they’ve come to expect from us. Audio provides a huge opportunity to expand that relationship with in-depth, long-form analysis.”
Jetty’s inaugural show and multimedia podcast is Closer Than They Appear, which will debut on November 15. Closer is hosted by Carvell Wallace, a nationally renowned writer and ongoing contributor to GQ, ESPN, the New Yorker and the Guardian. With the 2016 election serving as a catalyst for inward reflection, Wallace examines his own story and past, including elements of himself he’s compartmentalized to avoid conflict. Closer is a mashup of personal narratives and conversations with guests, including actor Mahershala Ali, news commentator Van Jones, immigration attorney Rabia Chaudry and the co-host of NPR’s Code Switch, Shereen Marisol Meraji.
“With Thanksgiving around the corner, it got us thinking about the conversations people will be having at the dinner table,” said Julie Caine, Jetty’s executive producer. “Closer examines the divisions in our country, and over seven episodes Carvell talks with many people who offer different takes on America’s struggles with race, class and belonging. What does Carvell — a person who’s had many kinds of American experiences — need to do to reconcile with his own past, and how can that help us understand what we as a country need to do to move forward?”
With Closer, Jetty will be reinventing storytelling with novel forms of distribution and engagement, combining audio-led interviews with complementary social video content for existing and emerging platforms. The show’s audio episodes will be available on traditional listening platforms and apps, along with visually focused programming on social media platforms to reach non-traditional and global podcast listeners.
“We’re taking a multipronged approach to listener acquisition,” said Campwala. “Al Jazeera has been a leader in video, and rather than running from it, we’re embracing our strengths and integrating video into our audio productions.”
Closer Than They Appear will be available for download and streaming across Apple Podcasts, Facebook Watch and Stitcher on November 15.