BY CARROL KRAUSE
What local radio show easily outperforms both This American Life and Fresh Air on Twitter?
The answer is Indiana Public Media’s Earth Eats, aired Saturday mornings on WFIU and hosted by Annie Corrigan. With 329,000 Twitter followers [in February 2015], it gathers about 100 new followers every day and is one of the most popular Twitter accounts for any public media program.
Corrigan points out, “This American Life has 275,000 followers while Fresh Air has 191,000 [also in February]. We’re really, really proud of — and baffled by — that.”
The show airs at 7:30 a.m., a perfect time for local foodies who are getting ready to go to the Bloomington Community Farmers’ Market.
“Listeners come to us because they’re interested in agriculture, sustainability, and the local food movement,” says Corrigan. “You can think of me as a kind of curator. Reading through the tweets from @eartheats should give you a good overview of what’s happening in the food world that day.”
The show began in 2009 as a roughly four-minute featured recipe recorded in the kitchen of Chef Daniel Orr, owner of FARMbloomington. Three years ago Earth Eats expanded to 29 minutes. Although seasonal recipes by Orr are still featured, the new format allows Corrigan to examine topics ranging from the latest food headlines to interviews with authors and farmers. Earth Eats is now a partner of Harvest Public Media, a reporting collaboration that focuses on the topics of food, fuel, and ﬁeld, based at station KCUR in Kansas City, Missouri. Many of the national news stories featured on Earth Eats originate from this service.
Corrigan would love to see the show grow to an hour in length.
“Food is a hot topic these days,” she says. “It’s an issue for people interested in social justice issues and climate change and health. I find that the people I interact with on Twitter are from all over the political spectrum, too. Food is on everyone’s radar, it seems.”
The half-hour podcast is downloaded about 100,000 times each year, but it’s the bite-sized tweets that seem to whet readers’ appetites. “Twitter is just another platform for content,” Corrigan says. “The radio is one platform, the web page is another, and Twitter is another.
“I like to think that our content is interesting, and people are drawn to it,” she says. “And hopefully we personalize it enough that people feel like they are participating in a conversation and not simply browsing headlines.”