The podcast audience is exploding — with a predicted half billion listeners this year — and GBH is creating a collection that is attracting listeners around the world. Managing Producer Devin Maverick Robins, a long-time NPR producer and editor before she joined GBH three years ago, has been leading the expansion of GBH’s podcast portfolio. Learn more about her and about what’s next.

When did you know you wanted to be a journalist?

I went to boarding school in India — I mostly grew up in Los Angeles and my parents were raising me in the Sikh religion. They sent me to school in Amritsar in Northern Punjab where I studied Hindi and Punjabi, and it was a fascinating experience. But when I was 12, there was a lot of civil unrest and the school got locked down for about a month. We didn’t know what was going on and we were scared. That was my first taste of the importance of having information about what’s going on around you.

How did you land on podcasts?

My uncle was the head of the NPR library in Washington, D.C., for 40 years and when I was in graduate school, he said why don't you come to D.C. and do an internship at NPR? I didn’t even know what that was — I thought I wanted to go into television. But I got an internship at Talk of the Nation and spent eight years there. I basically grew up at NPR.

How are GBH podcasts doing with audiences?

Over the past 10 years, we’ve seen about 41 million downloads of 27 GBH podcasts and an additional 16 million for our half dozen kids’ podcasts. Downloads are very important, but engagement might be more important. Downloads only show that a person has listened, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are staying and coming back for anything else. Engagement from our listeners on the Peabod Award-winning “The Big Dig” was incredible — we had more people leaving comments on YouTube and other platforms than I've ever seen with any podcast I've ever made. That’s excellent — it means we stay in rotation on the platforms. You know a podcast is successful when people tell you they're listening and telling others to listen too. Another interesting finding was that “What Is Owed?” GBH News’ exploration of reparations for slavery, is popular in Asia, especially Japan, Korea, and China.

How will GBH go about expanding its podcast library?

Most of our podcasts will fall under one of our GBH brands — MASTERPIECE, ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, FRONTLINE, NOVA, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, GBH News, or GBH Kids. We’ll be retelling some of our film and documentary stories for the ear. This includes incorporating GBH archival audio, using parts of interviews that never made it into the films, and working with other teams to add video to go along with every new podcast produced. “AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Presents” will be an audio version of some of the program’s most popular documentaries. The 10-episode series will include Isaac Woodard, William Randolph Hearst, and Joseph McCarthy.

What’s an exciting podcast we can look forward to?

We’re going to build on the success of “The Big Dig.” It earned GBH News' first-ever Peabody Award, which honors excellence in storytelling that reflects the social issues and emerging voices of our day. The series has more than 3 million downloads to date and landed #1 on Apple’s history podcast charts and remained in the top 50 of Apple’s podcasts across all genres during its run. And it was named in several “Best of 2023” lists, including The New Yorker. I can’t share the details yet, but we’re in production, working with GBH News, on a new podcast that is an original Boston-based investigative series with national interest, just like “The Big Dig,” that will also draw on GBH’s amazing archives and will include video.

What is next for podcasts at GBH?

We are planning a variety of models to help GBH continue to create podcasts in a cost-effective way, and we hope to produce another GBH News investigative series each year, in addition to continuing our ongoing popular podcasts “DETOURS” and “The FRONTLINE Dispatch.” New seasons of our kids' series are in the works including new episodes of “Keyshawn Solves It” and podcasts based on Work It Out Wombats!, ARTHUR, and Pinkalicious & Peterrific.  

What do you do when you’re not producing podcasts?

I’m a lifelong animal advocate, so I lend my support to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home abandoned cats and dogs. You can also find me on my bike, cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for HIV/AIDS services for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

Explore GBH podcasts here.