I’ll keep this short.
Hot Pod has had a pretty good year, I think. We broke some intriguing stories, like Panoply divesting from the content business and the Wall Street Journal partnering with Gimlet on a daily news podcast, and though the newsletter isn’t built to break stories or to be particularly scoopy, it’s nice to know we have this powerful move in our toolkit. We also pushed hard on some stories I felt were really important to the community, like the Apple Podcast chart shenanigans, the shake-up at Audible’s original programming division, the question of distribution platforms and hate speech, the limitations and potential of the limited-run series, and so many more.
There were some structural changes to the newsletter that I feel really good about. To begin with, I’m very proud to have brought in Caroline Crampton to cover the UK, to shoulder some of the workload, and to bring her worldview into this publication. She’s been a fantastic addition to Hot Pod, and the work she’s been doing is so smart, so fun, and so good.
We also changed the shape of the Tuesday newsletters: forgoing the round-up format in favor of a more traditional column style, which lets us more deeply explore ideas and stories. The change wasn’t without casualties; the Career Spotlight feature, most notably, had to be benched. As it turns out, that segment was pretty popular among the readership, and to those who wrote me to lament: fear not, I’m exploring ways to bring it back while maintaining our gains with the column structure.
There were positives in other aspects. I got a book deal, which is nice but terrifying. (Shouts to Danielle and Colleen.) I’ve really enjoyed working with Vulture, and I’m looking forward to scaling that up. (Shouts to Neil and Chris.) I took a small break from doing live events. That’ll change soon, and I hope to do more in that space. (Shouts to Scott and Jemma.)
So, overall, I feel fairly good about the year. But so many things could be improved. There were so many stories I wished we could have pursued further, but I dropped the ball too many times. The newsletter is still too long and bloated; it’s my hope to actually fix that in the New Year. I haven’t been as aggressive about growing Hot Pod’s revenues as I could have been; in many ways, I’m still too precious and stubborn about the business, and it’s wildly immature for me to be that way. As always, I need to improve as a writer — to negotiate down the many ways in which I continue to be undisciplined, self-indulgent, and lazy, and to establish checks against my tendency to get overextended and burnt out. It’s a process, and I need to commit to the process. And speaking of commitment, here’s another crucial thing I hope to fix in 2019: I need to start seriously committing to the notion of getting help, for myself and for the business.
This past November marked the fourth year of Hot Pod. It’s a blink of an eye for so many contexts, but for others, it’s an eternity. It’s certainly been an eternity for me: I haven’t worked a job for more than two years, and I continue to be surprised that this quirky little thing has grown into what it’s become. It wasn’t only until recently that I fully embraced the idea that this newsletter isn’t some in-between thing; that the reward for being decent at this game is the opportunity to keep playing.
And you know what? I’d like to keep playing for as long as I can. So thanks for reading, and for keeping us in the game.