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Insider January 6, 2023 —Are limited-run series sustainable?

Plus, Rogan steps in it. (“It” being fake news).

It’s been a slow news week, as I imagine everyone is getting back to functioning normally. I personally am recovering from my Hanukkah quest to identify the best jelly donut in NYC (it’s Peter Pan, big shock). 

But at least we have a lil Joe Rogan snafu! Plus, a look at whether limited-run series can survive in the tougher economic environment.

Podcasters fret over the fate of limited-run series

I’ve already written about how the wonky economy is expected to impact audio companies and their spending, and Nick Quah spoke with a bunch of industry insiders about what they anticipate will happen this year. Largely, people are concerned about financing for shows, and limited-run narrative series could be in particular trouble. You know, the kind of deep-dive series that win awards and drive audio culture but don’t rake in cash like Rogan or Cooper. If that is the case, it will be bad news for ambitious creators and audiences who want more than a rote celebrity chat show.

The result, according to Quah, is that such series could become limited to large diversified businesses that need the clout more than they need cash (i.e., tech giants like Apple). Or, studios will expect limited-run shows to be made with a single producer on the cheap. Not great!!  

But one strategy Quah notes that could make these types of shows more viable is if outlets build off established feeds. He cites The Economist as a publisher that has been particularly good at this, but that is also something we do at The Verge! Special series, like the one I worked on in the fall about the future of music, are branded as part of Vergecast and distributed on the main feed of our more popular chat show. I am all for it — it makes the shows way more discoverable for listeners and keeps libraries from being totally cluttered. So perhaps the great solve for podcast discovery we’ve all been looking for is… fewer feeds. 

Rogan platforms fake tweet, apologizes and edits episode

Don’t believe everything you see on the internet, Joe! The world’s most popular podcaster released an episode on Wednesday that dedicated an 11-minute segment to discussing a tweet attributed to a doctor in Florida that ended up being fake (and also… seemed really fake to begin with). Rogan has since apologized, and the episode has been rereleased with the segment edited out.

Even though the episode on Spotify has been switched out, the video clip is still making the rounds on social. In the clip, Rogan reads the fake tweet out loud and shows it onscreen. The fake tweet had the doctor saying that it was worth getting the vaccine “even if it turns out I injected actual poison and have only days to live” and said that anti-vaxxers do what they do “out of hate.” 

“The idea that you wouldn’t be upset that you were duped into injecting actual poison, when you were thinking that this was somehow going to save people and save the world, is so insane,” he initially said in response. “But you are uncharitably categorizing all people who are hesitant in getting an experimental medical intervention.”

Rogan was not the first to amplify the fake tweet — it started making the rounds on right-wing Twitter on Monday. But the size of his platform could not have helped with the wave of harassment the doctor faced, who has since switched her Twitter to private (I will not name her because she has had enough unnecessary exposure).

Rogan tweeted yesterday that “I was informed last night that this tweet is fake. The show was already out, so we initially decided to post a notice saying we got tricked, then later thought it best to just delete it from the episode. My sincere apologies to everyone, especially the person who got hoaxed.”

It strikes a very different tone than Rogan’s non-apology last winter when he got in hot water for spreading covid misinformation. That is perhaps because this is not about what he does or does not believe about vaccines. He acted swiftly because the source he was citing was unimpeachably fake. One thing is clear, which is that he has not really changed his approach to discussing matters of public health on his show. “Oftentimes I have no idea what I’m going to talk about until I sit down and talk to people. And that’s why some of my ideas are not that prepared or fleshed out because I’m literally having them in real time,” he said last year. “But I do my best and they’re just conversations, and I think that’s also the appeal of the show.”

When Rogan meets Elon Twitter, you get magic*!

*Truly irresponsible spread of misinformation.

SiriusXM launches new kids podcast hosted by LeVar Burton

All my colleagues at The Verge have fun CES stuff to report (especially Jake, who has been leading the charge, he deserves a beer) — but I have not. Until now! SiriusXM announced a new Stitcher podcast at the conference that will be hosted by LeVar Burton. Sound Detectives, which will launch in the spring, is an educational series that will teach kids to identify sounds and really leans into the audio of it all. Seems cute! Will this be the Reading Rainbow for Generation Alpha or whatever they’re called? Don’t ask me — I know nothing about current children’s media beyond Elmo’s ongoing feud with Rocco.

Have a great weekend!