I don’t know about you guys, but I am ready for a vacation. On that note, I will be out next week, so you will be hearing from Jake.
Today, Spotify’s new org chart, NPR’s new fonts, and journalism’s new threat. But first, a quick note from Jake:
Hey everyone, issuing a quick correction on an item in yesterday’s newsletter about Triton Digital’s 2022 podcast report: I wrote that Spotify had 3x the podcast “listens” as Apple Podcasts; actually, it was 3x as many listeners. Two extra letters, but they make for an important distinction — users, not usage. Okay, back to Ariel.
Report: Spotify has a new head of podcasts
After Dawn Ostroff’s departure was announced earlier this week, Bloomberg reported that a new podcast chief has been named. Sahar Elhabashi, previously the head of content under Ostroff, is now the head of podcast business.
Elhabashi worked closely with Ostroff and even worked at Condé Nast Entertainment at the same time before both moved over to Spotify. But while Elhabashi also has a strong content background and may carry on the core of Ostroff’s strategy, she will have to report up to chief business officer Alex Norstrom. Ostroff reported directly to CEO Daniel Ek. It puts another layer of business oversight on content spending as Spotify tries to mollify investors unhappy with how much it has invested in its not-yet-profitable podcast business.
Additionally, Maya Prohovnik has gotten a title change. Prohovnik replaced Michael Mignano last spring as head of talk on the product side of the company. Now, she is head of podcast product.
With an eye on cutting costs, NPR switches to free fonts
These are the dark days, and the little things we used to take for granted as part of our work infrastructure are falling by the wayside. While some companies are reining in costs by switching from Slack to Microsoft Teams or ditching corporate Zoom accounts for Google Meets, NPR is reevaluating its fonts.
In a tweet that has since been deleted, Semafor’s Ben Smith posted an internal NPR newsletter informing employees that NPR.org’s standard fonts will be phased out by the end of the month. “Due to a price increase and change in licensor for the Gotham, Knockout, and Sentinel fonts, we have decided not to renew our license for those fonts.” Going forward, they will use Lato and Source Sans Pro — two free fonts.
Despite anticipating a $20 million shortfall in corporate sponsorships this fiscal year, NPR has not yet experienced the kind of wide layoffs seen at media companies like Spotify, CNN, and Vox Media, but it has had to make some difficult cuts. The network canceled its summer internship program last month and recently confirmed to Hot Pod that it has axed its Kroc Fellowship as well.
“We are always managing NPR’s resources carefully. This is an example of us doing that. We appreciate the attention to the change in fonts on our website, which most people likely didn’t even notice,” NPR spokesperson Ben Fishel told Hot Pod in an email formatted in Comic Sans. Well played, Ben!
Is ChatGPT coming for podcasting?
Seems to be everywhere in media these days! The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that BuzzFeed plans to use ChatGPT creator OpenAI to assist in making its quizzes and other clicky content. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti told employees in a memo he expects in 15 years that AI will “create, personalize, and animate the content itself.” You absolutely hate to see it!
That’s not just me being paranoid (or reasonably concerned?) about my future in the industry. My Verge colleague Mia Sato has done excellent reporting on how CNET used AI to create content to ruinous effect. It has since halted the practice.
Does AI yet threaten (or, as some unscrupulous media/PE executive might argue, “enhance”) podcasting? At the high end, no, since it is so personality based. But I would bet anything that it, along with AI text-to-voice, will become a significant force in the creation of self-distributed podcasts.
On that note, if anyone has any idea for some hard skills I can develop that can’t be replicated by a robot, hit me up. All I have so far is my eggplant parm because it is made with love 🤌.
Have a great week! I’ll be back on February 7th.