About Paul Riismandel

Hi, I’m Paul Riismandel. mediageek has been my home on the internet since 2000. Radio, podcasting and grassroots media have been lifelong pursuits for me. I’ve made the business of podcasting my career since 2014.

Professionally, I am Chief Insights Officer and Parter at Signal Hill Insights, an audio research firm. I focus on podcast advertising and audiences, understanding what makes podcast ads effective, and how podcasters and producers best serve audiences. I joined Signal Hill after a two-year stint as Sr. Dir. of Insights at SXM Media, the ad sales division of SiriusXM and Pandora. I arrived at that position through two acquisitions. I joined Midroll Media in 2014, building the marketing and research strategy supporting Midroll’s podcast advertising business. Midroll was acquired by the E.W. Scripps Co. in 2015, which then acquired Stitcher in 2016, taking the on the brand name in 2018. Stitcher was then acquired by SiriusXM in 2020. By the time I left, I was one of the longest serving team members from Midroll.

I am also a co-founder of the Radio Survivor website and podcast. At one time taking the slogan, “Not the Voice of the Industry,” Radio Survivor is dedicated to “the love of radio and sound,” with a particular focus on grassroots, community, college and other independent sound broadcast endeavors, online and off.

Radio and audio are life-long obsessions for me, and have been my primary professional focus since getting into podcasting. However, digital media has been at the forefront of my endeavors for a long time. From 1999 to 2013 I was an educational technologist specializing in online video and communication. I started some of the first efforts to digitize curricular media for distribution online – something we take for granted now, but was new and exotic at the turn of the century.

Along the way I’ve always had a hand in radio, podcasting, and grassroots and community media. I worked and volunteered in a variety of roles in community radio – including programming, fundraising and board leadership – along with hosting a weekly syndicated show. I also served as advisor to a large college radio station. In the early 2000s I was a founding member of the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.

Before settling into online media as a career path, I attempted two different PhDs, one in linguistics – focusing on syntax and computational – followed by one in communication, with a focus on political economy. Though it turned out academia wasn’t for me (or I wasn’t for academia), the rigorous scholarly training has been invaluable and informs nearly everything I do today.

For more professional details, you can check out my LinkedIn profile.


I used to blog at this website quite a bit until about 2009, when I co-founded Radio Survivor. You can find much of my writing there.

From 2007 to 2016 I was a contributing editor at Streaming Media Magazine covering the education beat.

I also write freelance on topics spanning technology, media and education. Drop me a line if you’ve got something for me to tackle.


I’ve been producing and hosting talk radio and podcasts since 1996. Here are some of my projects:

  • The Radio Survivor Podcast is the weekly audio companion to Radio Survivor which I co-host and co-produce with Jennifer Waits and  Eric Klein. We are driven by the question: What makes great radio? To help answer the question we talk to interesting people about the radio they make, the radio they love, and the radio they’d love to hear.
  • Jenny and Paul Sell Out is founded on the tenet that culture matters and selling out doesn’t. My co-host Jenny Benevento and I also try to help you get your shit together, while we do the same.
  • From 2014 to 2017 I was the producer of Earwolf’s The Wolf Den, which is the original podcast about the business of podcasting. Fun fact: I first guested on the show in December 2013, before joining Earwolf’s parent company Midroll in March 2014, and assuming producer duties for the next 67 episodes.
  • The mediageek radio show ran from 2002 through 2009, first on community radio WEFT-FM in Champaign, IL, moving to WNUR-FM, Evanston, IL in 2008. I began consistently distributing the show as a podcast in 2004.


I am an avid amateur photographer, with occasional stints in paid work, including portraiture, events and stock. My work has appeared in the Northwestern University School of Communication Magazine and Radio World. I don’t have a good online portfolio, though the stuff I shoot for fun is on flickr.

About Mediageek

The site started as a place for me to write and reflect on the political economy of our media environment, with a particular emphasis on independent media. Like any 14-year project it has evolved, hibernated and changed over time. For better or worse I have done my best to keep the entire archive of the site online with minimal link rot, despite several host and blog platform migrations, along a few redesigns.

I gave the site a much-needed refresh in March 2014 (hello responsive design!), with an eye towards yet another resuscitation in the guise of something more like a personal blog. Stay tuned for the next exciting episode where we find out if Paul actually follows through.

For historical purposes, here is the last About description, published January 4, 2006:

From the original mediageek about page, Februrary, 2000:

A medigeek is someone who, like a computer geek, delves into the inner working of media both to understand it and to hack it. A mediageek doesn’t accept the rules and restrictions of the mainstream media, circumventing and jamming them by doing it him or herself.

This site will serve as a guide for mediageeks, looking at how the media works, both systemically–the political economy of the mainstream, indpendent and underground media–and practically–how you can put media making tools to work.

I also hope that the site can be inspiration and encouragement to become a mediageek, creating, hacking and jamming the media yourself.

This website is an eight-year journey into blogging about grassroots and independent media, and the issues that affect our ability to create and use that media freely. This blog reflects my own idiosyncratic approach to issues like community radio, underground and alternative press, pirate and community radio, videomaking, and, of course, blogging and podcasting.

Independent media is not a self-contained bubble — it has a co-dependent relationship with the dominant media. In turn, our whole media environment is constantly affected by law, legislation, regulations and corporate action. I take a critical look at these things from the standpoint of how they affect us, our everday lives, and how we can make changes in them towards a better, more just world.

The history of mediageek:
Mediageek in its current form started in 2000 as a blog and home for my previous community radio program, Radio Free Conscience. That program was a lot like the current mediageek radioshow, except that it aired only biweekly, was more focused on radio, and was overall less consistent. RFC actually had a webpage of its own going back to 1996, but it was pretty much just a static page with occasional posts to archives of the program.

The mediageek radioshow debuted in 2002 as a weekly program with a broader focus than RFC, more like the blog. In 2003 the mediageek zine debuted, putting mediageek in three different media. The zine only lasted three issues (I swear a fourth is still forthcoming), which is more of a commentary on my own industry than the viability of print.

If there’s one thing this enterprise has taught me, it’s that there’s an audience for critical views on mainstream and independent media, but don’t get your hopes up. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve kept the blog going consistently for nearly eight years — frankly, quite a bit longer than most bloggers.

I started the mediageek blog because I stumbled upon Blogger and thought, “Damn, that would be an easy way to keep this site updated.” That was before your grandma had heard of blogs, and before anyone thought a blog was a way to get famous, popular or rich. In writing mediageek I’ve become none of those things, but I am glad to have created an archive of ideas and viewpoints (not to mention tons of dead links) about my relationship to media.


5 responses to “About Paul Riismandel”

  1. Mike Kalas Avatar

    “Blessed are the Geeks, for they shall inherit the Earth” ~God (Actual translation)

  2. Matthew Lasar Avatar
    Matthew Lasar

    Mediageek is a God.

  3. Pat Kelley Avatar

    I’m proud to be the General Manager of WLFM…Smooth Jazz 87.7FM in Chicago. I read your write up about the WBEZ challenge.

    Looking beyond the technical part of the argument, there has been a very positive impact that 87.7 has been making in Chicago since May 22nd. First, based on my 15 years at the previous Smooth Jazz station, there is a proven market for this format …I would be happy to show you the over 1500 emails we have received.

    More importantly, while most media companies are cutting back we are hiring…many of those we have hired or partnered up with (including me) are displaced, talented professionals who were loyal to the over leveraged, larger media companies. We just want the opportunity to work and hopefully make a difference.

    WLFM LLC is an enterprising business that is looking to satisfy a very specific need in the Chicago radio market. We are responsible and serious broadcasters. So far…so good.

    I would love to talk with you one-on-one…there’s a very good story here…the more human side.

    Thanks for listening…

    Pat Kelley
    SVP/General Manager

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