Spectacular Failures podcast

New APM, Carlson Podcast Explores Business Failure

Friday, June 14, 2019

The corporate world is filled with success stories--startups turning into Fortune 500 companies, major breakthroughs in science and technology, and products that make our lives easier or safer.

But there are also plenty of failures -- and sometimes they cause corporate giants to crumble. What if you could get a behind-the-scenes look at the decisions that led up to these financial disasters?

Spectacular Failures, a new podcast from American Public Media, in partnership with the Carlson School of Management, does just that. In its 10-episode, inaugural season, host Lauren Ober (award-winning creator of WAMU and NPR’s The Big Listen) and producer Whitney Jones (creator of the critically acclaimed music podcast Pitch) explore some of the greatest corporate catastrophes.

Among those featured this season are the mishandled launch of MoviePass, the criminal collapse of televangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker and their Heritage USA park, and Kodak’s not-so-picture-perfect descent into obsolescence.

“It might be sick to say it, but it’s true: We love hearing about failures,” Ober says. “Stories about business breakdowns capture our most basic human failings: greed, hubris, sometimes even criminal behavior. We’re trying to sniff out the universal [truth] that exists in all stories of corporate collapse and make those tales fun and engaging, with a little dash of attitude and a heap of charm.”

"It's important to understand not just business success but also failure," said Jamie Plesser, Assistant Dean of Marketing and Communications at the Carlson School. "We believe exploring this topic through podcasting provides powerful storytelling that will connect with audiences, so we're excited to partner with a market leader like American Public Media to launch Spectacular Failures."

Episodes will also include short segments featuring a number of professors from the Carlson School, who will be interviewed about their research expertise. Among those appearing on the podcast are:

  • Akshay Rao (Professor, General Mills Chair in Marketing)
  • Connie Wanberg (Professor, Industrial Relations Faculty Excellence Chair, Department of Work and Organizations Chair)
  • Ravi Bapna (Associate Dean for Executive Education, Curtis L. Carlson Chair in Business Analytics and Information Systems, Academic Director of Carlson Analytics Lab)
  • Joel Waldfogel (Associate Dean of MBA Programs, Frederick R. Kappel Chair in Applied Economics, Strategic Management & Entrepreneurship)
  • Kathleen Vohs (Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Land O’Lakes Chair in Marketing)
  • Vladas Griskevicius (Professor, Carlson Foundation Endowed Chair, Marketing Department Chairperson)

Spectacular Failures launches on June 17 on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you normally listen to podcasts. You can listen to the trailer ahead of this season’s release here.

Fall 2019 alumni magazine cover

This article appeared in the Fall 2019 alumni magazine

The Carlson School is celebrating its centennial. In this issue, we examine our storied history (and the people that made it possible) and look forward to the next 100 years of excellence.

Fall 2019 table of contents