The Memphis-based FOX 13 has uncovered what it says are major discrepancies between how many people listen to city’s taxpayer-funded podcasts versus how many people officials involved with it say listen.
As the station reported this week, Memphis taxpayers pay for two podcasts.
“FOX13 obtained contracts between the city and Kudzukian, LLC, a Memphis-based multimedia company, for $75,000 to produce and market two podcasts – ‘Neighborhood Connect’ about housing and community development and ‘Best in Blue’ podcast, television and radio recruitment campaigns about the Memphis Police Department,” the station reported.
“This after the Shelby County Commissioners approved a $110,000 contract with the same company for two other podcasts over the summer. However, there were inconsistencies in listenership data. According to a year-in-review presentation, Kudzukian claims ‘Best in Blue’ has 22,000 listens monthly, but the contract states the average reach is only 6,000.”
City Council Chairman Kemp Conrad reportedly told the station the podcast funding was an administrative decision and not one from city council members.
As reported last month, Shelby County commissioners recently voted to spend more than $100,000 of taxpayer money to create their own podcasts.
County officials’ decision didn’t sit well with the Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank.
“It’s insane. It’s hard to justify how the county commissioners in Shelby County could possibly think this is a good use of tax dollars,” Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham told The Tennessee Star last month.
“A couple of people on the council will have weekly shows and break down what happened at the meetings. It will be an hour-long show telling you what they think, which, honestly, sounds a lot like state-sponsored TV.”
Cunningham said people can already watch commission meetings on the Internet.
LocalMemphis.com quoted Commissioner Mick Wright, the only commissioner to reportedly vote against the deal paying the Kudzukian network almost $110,000 to produce podcasts.
“The cost of it. This contract is so outrageous. It just baffles me why we are doing this,” Wright reportedly said. “When you are talking about over $109,000, you could buy a small fleet of vehicles for that amount and still do a podcast.”
The website reported the City of Memphis has a similar contract with Kudzukian — but for far less money.
“The city is paying the company just over $21,000 a year to produce and distribute up to four ‘Neighborhood Connect’ podcasts per month,” according to the website.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to email@example.com.
Photo “Neighborhood Connect Podcast” by Neighborhood Connect Podcast.