Dino Sofos: Reinventing news with The News Agents

The ground-breaking producer who made his name with Brexitcast explains why he quit the BBC to set up his own company and how he wants to set the gold standard in podcasting

To say it’s been a turbulent and unprecedented time in the news cycle over the last few years is now so self-evident as to be almost a cliché.

When Dino Sofos launched Brexitcast at the BBC, it was because he had realised we needed a new way to cover news; and the podcast format allowed the time and space to unwind a deeper analysis of the big topics. Having followed it up with Newscast and Americast, he quit the Beeb to co-found production company Persephonica a year ago and launched The News Agents for Global, bringing with him BBC big-hitters Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall as presenters.

In this episode of the PodPod podcast, he shares with Rhianna Dillon and Matt Hill everything he has picked up on the journey towards creating a “gold standard” podcast, including: the importance of the producer-presenter relationship, how Maitlis and Sopel have been "de-BBC-ified" but aren't going to be "shock jocks" and the perils of live broadcast versus the benefits of the curated podcast environment. Plus he talks about working with Dua Lipa on foreign-language podcasts and the potential for artificial intelligence to transform the audio medium in the future.

Key takeaways

Have the confidence to look ahead

“The challenge is that when you launch something in a busy news period, you've got to have the confidence, I think, to look ahead and to know when it's peaked and when you need to sort of nudge the audience into a different space, which is what we did with Brexitcast,” Sofos said.

“When the [Brexit] negotiations were clear… and effectively we had officially left at that point,” he added. “I just said, I think this is the time to end it and to do the next thing and to leverage the audience and the feed and that's when we created Newscast.”

Enjoy your freedom to express your own views

“Being able to call something out or give some analysis that may have just crossed a line at the BBC,'' said Sofos. “It is certainly very liberating and enables us to have a much punchier analysis, I would say. It's like a toddler taking the stabilisers off a bike a little bit.”

Make sure your podcast is truly accessible

“I think language and pushing podcasts in different territories is something that I'm really interested in,” says Sofos. “It’s a global market, isn't it? As we all know… lots more territories are discovering podcasts, and we need to make sure that they're available in the languages they want to listen to.”

Read the full transcript


BBC One - Brexitcast

Global - The News Agents

iHeart - Dua Lipa: At Your Service


On Air with Adam Shepherd - A pod by any other name

US podcast production companies expand into creating multilingual content


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