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Insider August 26, 2022 — Podcasts in the metaverse 🙃

Plus, the Ben Shapiro drama moves beyond Podcast Movement and into the ~~discourse

Guys, I am wiped. It was great to meet so many people from the industry, but I am very much looking forward to logging off and lying down and doing nothing this weekend. I’ll prepare my body better next year, do a juice cleanse or something, and maybe not eat fried chicken at least once a day in Dallas. 

Anywho, today: iHeart is taking podcasts to the metaverse and Podcast Movement becomes conservative Twitter’s latest target.

iHeart is putting podcasts in the metaverse

On Wednesday, iHeartMedia launched a new entertainment space for music and podcast performances in Fortnite. Even with all the talk in Dallas about podcasts as video, iHeart seems to be taking things yet another step further from traditional podcast listening. 

The first big event will be a concert by Charlie Puth on September 9th, hosted at a virtual venue sponsored by State Farm (the future is weird, gang). Starting out with music makes sense after Travis Scott’s blockbuster 2020 Fortnite concert paved the way for other stars like Ariana Grande and J Balvin to do the same.

No podcast performances have been announced yet, but according to iHeart, at least some of the 20 events it has planned for iHeartLand over the next year will be based around podcasting. Does this mean I have to finally do something in Fortnite for professional purposes? Honestly, that is up to Jake. My preference is just to listen to my history pods while I make a sauce 🤌. (Update: Jake says yes; I am 100 percent going to have to report from Fortnite.)

Ben Shapiro at Podcast Movement has become a whole thing

Well, a lot of people now know about Podcast Movement outside of the industry, for better or worse. (Feels like it’s probably worse.) As I mentioned yesterday, Ben Shapiro made an unplanned (if not altogether surprising) appearance at PM in Dallas, resulting in outcry from some in the podcasting community and prompting PM to issue a very serious apology about the whole thing.

“Though [Shapiro] was not registered or expected, we take full responsibility for the harm done by his presence,” PM tweeted on Thursday. “There’s no way around it: We agreed to sell The Daily Wire a first-time booth based on the company’s large presence in podcasting. The weight of that decision is now painfully clear. Shapiro is a co-founder. A drop-in, however unlikely, should have been considered a possibility.”

The reaction did seem, even to people who are not generally fans of Shapiro, to be an overcorrection. It’s not like he was a featured keynote, and it’s not unreasonable he would show up to a booth his company paid for. Right-wing Twitter, meanwhile, is having a field day. Some are even accusing PM of antisemitism (guys… no). Shapiro himself has mocked PM’s apology, tweeting, “Literally shaking rn. Podcast Movement is threatening my right to exist.” Podcast Movement declined to provide comment on the backlash.

The whole thing is also a reminder that Twitter is not real life! I didn’t encounter many people at the event who were truly upset (or even shocked) by his appearance. Shapiro indisputably has one of the top podcasts in the country, and his media company is only getting bigger. I may not like his views (and I definitely do not appreciate having to share a name!), but it makes sense that his media company would have a booth at a podcast convention.

Podcast Movement declined to say whether they intend to sell space to The Daily Wire again. But rejecting the conservative podcasting ecosystem — of which The Daily Wire is an important part — will not make it go away. As has happened in other branches of the media industry, it will just establish its own thing. Echo chambers aren’t good for the industry (or, you know, the public it intends to serve).

Amazon’s Amp partners with Formula One on racing content

I did learn this summer that Brooklyn softbois now love Formula One. I love Talladega Nights, but that is really not the same thing. So I guess this news is for them? Amp, Amazon’s new live radio app, has partnered with the organization on Fast & Loose, a series of F1 programming for fans in the US. 

They got some big names! Starting Sunday with the Belgian Grand Prix, The Kid Mero, fresh off his breakup, and sports reporter Michelle Beadle, who will host the Fast & Loose Sidecast at race time. Meanwhile, Will Arnett will host the live Fast & Loose Post Show immediately following the race. Highlights from coverage will be available later as the Fast & Loose: F1 podcast.

“Like many other Americans, I have recently become obsessed with Formula One. They wouldn’t let me drive the cars, so instead, I’ll be taking calls live from the sidelines,” Arnett said in a statement. If someone has insight into why everyone all of the sudden cares about F1, feel free to hit me up.

All right, I’m out. Take it easy, and see you next week.