I hope you all have fun plans for the holiday weekend. Mercifully, I will be off Monday and Tuesday (thanks for the chill time, Vox!) and plan to spend most of the break in a pool. That means no Tuesday newsletter, but I will be back on Thursday.
Today, Daily Wire takes some big podcast swings, a new study confirms a lot of what we already knew about podcast creators, and industry leaders make moves.
Daily Wire signs controversial (but popular) podcaster Jordan Peterson
Right-wing news company The Daily Wire has launched Daily Wire Plus, a subscription service that now hosts The Daily Wire website and conservative video and podcast programming. While the company is branching out into new areas like movies and kids video programming, it is also shoring up the area that has long been its bread and butter: podcasting. The company announced yesterday that it cut a multi-year deal with polarizing public intellectual and podcaster Jordan Peterson.
With top-performing political titles like The Ben Shapiro Show and The Matt Walsh Show, The Daily Wire is one of the biggest podcast publishers in the business. Those shows have become an integral part of Cumulus Media’s podcast operation, which handles their ad sales and distribution. In May, DW’s podcasts got nearly 73 million downloads, according to Podtrac.
The addition of Peterson’s show should only boost that figure. His show ranks in the top 50 on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify. And, tonally, he’s a fit with the network’s other talent. Peterson, who was a psychology professor at the University of Toronto until he announced his retirement early this year, has become notorious for his sexist and anti-transgender views. He was suspended from Twitter this week for the (extremely gross!) post he made about Elliot Page. The tweet was removed for violating the platform’s policies. But, his views on gender will fit neatly at DWP, which recently debuted a Matt Walsh-hosted documentary called What Is a Woman? that has also been accused of being transphobic.
DWP subscribers will be able to listen to Peterson’s podcasts ad-free and will have access to exclusive bonus content. He will also appear in some of the service’s video content and already debuted Dragons, Monsters, and Men, a limited series on masculinity. While the premium content is intended to attract and keep premium subscribers (which, by the way, company spokesperson Alyssa Cordova said is already at a pretty massive 890,000), his show will still be available on major podcast platforms with ads.
The advertising component of Peterson’s deal, though less flashy, could end up reshaping how the company approaches its audio business. DWP plans to handle his podcast ad sales and distribution in-house, which is a pretty stark change from their longtime arrangement with Cumulus. Cordova did not say if it was managing ad sales for any of the network’s other podcasts moving forward, but if DWP is able to build up that side of the business with Peterson, that could be a whole new lucrative stream of revenue for the company.
If The Daily Wire ever decides to handle the ad sales for its flagship shows, that is very bad news for Cumulus. The radio giant, like its peers, is trying to build up its digital side to stifle the blow of terrestrial radio’s steady decline. While streaming radio can make up part of that, it is going to need a more robust podcast operation. Without its crown jewel, that is going to be a lot harder.
What is the average podcaster like?
That’s the question posed by Tom Webster, who conducted a study for Sounds Profitable and Edison Research. The answer is not going to be a terrible shock: podcasters skew male, rich, educated, and liberal.
It’s been long apparent there is a gender gap in podcasting. When I compiled the highest-earning podcaster list for Forbes in 2020, only one of the five top-earning shows had women hosts (My Favorite Murder). Since then, other women-hosted shows have climbed to the top, like Call Her Daddy and Crime Junkie, but the proportion from the report was still surprising: men outnumber women in podcasting by more than two to one.
More than half have an annual income (not necessarily from their podcast) of $75,000 or more, compared to the third of the US population that does. That may be thanks to their credentials: 88 percent of podcasters surveyed have had at least some higher education, compared to 58 percent of the country. A whopping 40 percent have an advanced degree.
Politically, liberals dominate the podcasting space for now. Only 17 percent of creators identified as Republican, while 57 percent said they were Democrats. The rest either said they were Independents or something else. The many left-wing podcasts out there could help explain the popularity of more conservative hosts like Joe Rogan and (see above) Ben Shapiro: they consolidate right-wing listenership.
One pleasant surprise from the study, though, was that podcasters are more racially diverse than you might think. Nearly half of all podcast creators are people of color, compared to 37 percent of the US population. Almost a quarter of podcasters are Latino, 14 percent are Black, 5 percent are Asian American, and 6 percent identify otherwise. It complements the findings from SiriusXM’s report during the podcast upfronts in May, which found that listenership is rapidly diversifying as well.
Closing out the week, let’s do some moves:
- Futuro Media, which took home the audio reporting Pulitzer this year for Suave, has hired two new executives. Arizona State journalism professor and former New York Times Phoenix bureau chief Fernanda Santos is joining as the outlet’s editorial director. Peniley Ramírez, a former investigations correspondent for Univision and columnist for Mexico City newspaper Reforma, will be the new executive producer of investigative and special projects. Futuro founder Maria Hinojosa will be promoted to president of the investigations division, and Julio Ricardo Varela, who has been serving as interim co-executive director, has been promoted to president of Futuro Media.
- NPR has promoted Yolanda Sangweni to vice president of programming and new content development. Sangweni was previously the senior director of programming at the network, where she oversaw the debut of The Limits with Jay Williams and created a new radio show for Peabody-winning history podcast Throughline.
- Comedy show producer Don’t Tell Comedy has hired Vox Media / Group Nine podcast executive Brett Kushner as its new chief operating officer. In the new role, Kushner will lead the company’s digital content efforts.
That’s all from me. Don’t have too much fun this weekend. Or do — I’m not your mom.