Podcast: So long, and thanks for all the fish

All good things... Image: Agnes Frimston.

Casablanca is 102 minutes long. Citizen Kane runs for 119. This, the 150th and final episode of Skylines, the CityMetric podcast, is longer than either, at 124. You lucky, lucky people.

I’ve loved doing this show over the last four and a bit years – it’s been a great opportunity to chat to interesting people about everything from transport and housing to smart cities and regional identities, with the odd argument about the tube or episode about ancient history thrown in for flavour. But for all sorts of reasons – not least of which is that I’ve stepped down as editor of CityMetric – this felt like the right time to stop.

I wanted to go out with a bang, though, and to hell with worrying about self-indulgence. So in this final, feature-length episode of Skylines you will hear:

  • Barbara Speed, my first co-host and now the opinion editor of the I Paper, on her enduring love of baked goods chain Greggs;

  • Our founding producer Roifield Brown, on the podcast’s origins, his native Birmingham and his love of San Francisco;

  • New Statesman political correspondent Patrick Maguire on the rise of the metro mayor, and a movie about both zombies AND public transport;

  • The Guardian’s media editor Jim Waterson, one of our more frequent guests, on why Britain’s transport network is quite good, actually;

  • New Statesman political editor Stephen Bush on the best and worst cities for party conferences;

  • The New Statesman’s former environmental writer India Bourke on the joy of nature;

  • The Centre for Cities’ Paul Swinney on the town/city divide;

  • Our current producer Nick Hilton on the fun he’s had turning my rubbish into a podcast;

  • An interview with myself, about my favourite things about doing the show, conducted Agnes Frimston (who, when not being my wonderful and tolerant partner co-hosts the Chatham House podcast, Undercurrents);

  • And last, but very definitely not least, Sommer Mathis, CityMetric’s new editor in chief, on how she got into urbanism and her plans for the site.

All that, plus some clips from listeners, and some previously unreleased bits of my entirely excellent former co-host Stephanie Boland.

Thanks for tuning into Skylines these last few years. I’m gonna miss you guys.

The episode itself is below. You can subscribe to the podcast on Acast, iTunes, or RSS. Enjoy.​

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

Skylines is produced by Nick Hilton.





CityMetric is now City Monitor! Come see us at our new home

City Monitor is now live in beta at citymonitor.ai.

CityMetric is now City Monitor, a name that reflects both a ramping up of our ambitions as well as our membership in a network of like-minded publications from New Statesman Media Group. Our new site is now live in beta, so please visit us there going forward. Here’s what CityMetric readers should know about this exciting transition.  

Regular CityMetric readers may have already noticed a few changes around here since the spring. CityMetric’s beloved founding editor, Jonn Elledge, has moved on to some new adventures, and a new team has formed to take the site into the future. It’s led by yours truly – I’m Sommer Mathis, the editor-in-chief of City Monitor. Hello!

My background includes having served as the founding editor of CityLab, editor-in-chief of Atlas Obscura, and editor-in-chief of DCist, a local news publication in the District of Columbia. I’ve been reporting on and writing about cities in one way or another for the past 15 years. To me, there is no more important story in the world right now than how cities are changing and adapting to an increasingly challenging global landscape. The majority of the world’s population lives in cities, and if we’re ever going to be able to tackle the most pressing issues currently facing our planet – the climate emergency, rising inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic ­­­– cities are going to have to lead the way.

That’s why City Monitor is now a global publication dedicated to the future of cities everywhere – not just in the UK (nor for that matter just in the US, where I live). Our mission is to help our readers, many of whom are in leadership positions around the globe, navigate how cities are changing and discover what’s next in the world of urban policy. We’ll do that through original reporting, expert opinion and most crucially, a data-driven approach that emphasises evidence and rigorous analysis. We want to arm local decision-makers and those they work in concert with – whether that’s elected officials, bureaucratic leaders, policy advocates, neighbourhood activists, academics and researchers, entrepreneurs, or plain-old engaged citizens – with real insights and potential answers to tough problems. Subjects we cover include transportation, infrastructure, housing, urban design, public safety, the environment, the economy, and much more.

The City Monitor team is made up of some of the most experienced urban policy journalists in the world. Our managing editor is Adam Sneed, also a CityLab alum where he served as a senior associate editor. Before that he was a technology reporter at Politico. Allison Arieff is City Monitor’s senior editor. She was previously editorial director of the urban planning and policy think tank SPUR, as well as a contributing columnist for The New York Times. Staff writer Jake Blumgart most recently covered development, housing and politics for WHYY, the local public radio station in Philadelphia. And our data reporter is Alexandra Kanik, whose previous roles include data reporting for Louisville Public Media in Kentucky and PublicSource in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Our team will continue to grow in the coming weeks, and we’ll also be collaborating closely with our editorial colleagues across New Statesman Media Group. In fact, we’re launching a whole network of new publications, covering topics such as the clean energy transition, foreign direct investment, technology, banks and more. Many of these sectors will frequently overlap with our cities coverage, and a key part of our plan is make the most of the expertise that all of these newsrooms combined will bring to bear on our journalism.

Please visit citymonitor.ai going forward, where you can also sign up for our free email newsletter.

As for CityMetric, some of its archives have already been moved over to the new website, and the rest will follow not long after. If you’re looking for a favourite piece from CityMetric’s past, for a time you’ll still be able to find it here, but before long the whole archive will move over to City Monitor.

On behalf of the City Monitor team, I’m thrilled to invite you to come along for the ride at our new digs. You can follow City Monitor on LinkedIn and on Twitter. If you’re interested in learning more about the potential for a commercial partnership with City Monitor, please get in touch with our director of partnerships, Joe Maughan.

I want to thank and congratulate Jonn Elledge on a brilliant run. Everything we do from here on out will be building on the legacy of his work, and the community that he built here at CityMetric. Cheers, Jonn!

To our readers, on behalf of the City Monitor team, thank you from all of us for being such loyal CityMetric fans. We couldn’t have done any of this without you.

Sommer Mathis is editor-in-chief of City Monitor.