Neal Carruth, who led NPR’s news podcasting strategy, is leaving the public broadcaster for the Freakonomics Radio Network where he has been named executive vice president and general manager. In his new role, Carruth will help set the strategic and editorial direction for the growing Freakonomics organization. He will also work with the senior team to develop audience, business and content strategies for the network.
“For years I have been a huge fan of the work that Stephen Dubner and the team have done on the Radio Freakonomics podcast,” Carruth said in a statement. “I love the combination of curiosity, rigor and fun of the podcast. I look forward to working with the team to expand the audience for the current slate of shows and to help them develop new properties. I am so excited about this opportunity to help increase the reach and impact of the Freakonomics Radio Network.
Carruth had been with NPR for 23 years, joining the public radio network as an intern. In a series Twitter postshe called NPR a “wonderful place to work” and said it was a “difficult decision” to leave.
“I’m extremely proud of the work I’ve done at NPR for two decades. With our podcasting business, we’ve created a whole new suite of informational products that have helped engage young and diverse audiences and helped put NPR on a secure financial footing,” Carruth said. “But it’s good to try new things. And it’s also important for leaders to create space for others to grow and lead.
Freakonomics founder Stephen Dubner said he “hit the jackpot” with the hiring of Carruth. “He has an incredible editorial and strategic track record, and he has an invaluable perspective on this crazy fast growing industry. His presence here will immediately make us all better,” Dubner said.
Carruth’s hiring follows the March appointment of Gabriel Roth, formerly of Slate, as editorial director.
Freakonomics Radio Network’s staff has tripled over the past two years as part of a larger growth effort for the 12-year-old show. In addition to the flagship show and podcast network which both set listening records in 2021, flagship show Freakonomics Radio celebrated its 500th episode and also hosted several spin-off series including No stupid questions, a show that explores “the weird and wonderful ways in which humans behave,” according to press materials. There is also The people I admire (mostly), which interviews unorthodox students. And Doctor Freakonomicsa show exploring the intersection of economics and health care.
The team also has several new shows in development to launch on the Freakonomics radio network this spring. This list includes his first new podcast of 2022 titled Off Leash, details of which will be released soon.
Carruth’s Radio Experience will also be useful as Freakonomics Radio recently announced alliance with SiriusXM will see him launch radio and streaming channels featuring content from his podcasts. The Freakonomics Radio Network broadcast channel will only be available to SiriusXM subscribers on the SXM app. His podcasts will continue to be widely available on all major podcast listening apps. And the flagship Freakonomics Radio will still be distributed to about three dozen public radio stations at national scale.