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Insider (May 27, 2021): Clubhouse announces inaugural Creator First class, More on the Joe Budden situation, Revolving Door

Clubhouse announces the inaugural calss of its Creator First accelerator. The final selections totaled up to twenty-five pilots, which will now — and this is Clubhouse borrowing the television production term here — “go to series” as part of the program. 

You can find the full list on the official blog post. For now, quick thought: I think the previous observation that many of the pitched (and now accepted) show concepts are ideas that could just as well function as a podcast. More broadly, though, most selections do seem to have some clear throughlines: chiefly personality or persona-first (in keeping with the general creator economy vibe), grafted onto a specific concept or thematic hook (a show can’t live on personality alone), and an overt interactive element. Obviously, the live-interactivity dimension is the characteristic that’s unique to the Clubhouse environment over on-demand audio, and I would imagine that most of the differentiating experiences available on the platform would rely on this dimension.

There are some concepts that, in my mind, could very well be something unique to the platform. The ones that stand out to me: Tyron Hoisten’s Radio Play, which implement table reads into the formula; Butterscotch’s Beats, Rhymes & Strings, which bills itself as a “weekly performance series” (though, I think one could jerry rig Spotify’s Music and Talk format to replicate a version of this); and Allisay Miky and Michael Rosenzweig’s The Global Lowdown, which promises to take on global news topic in both English and Japanese, principally as a way to help listeners practice their language skills.    I’ll be tracking those, I think. In the meantime, it probably behooves podcast publishers to pay close attention here. Some of these ideas are worth exploring… and perhaps adapting. Also, for those wondering, it’s worth noting that the creators will apparently retain the IP to their concepts, regardless of what ultimately happens to those shows.

Notes on the New York Times. Firstly, the Times is launching a new project today: Day X, a limited-run series led and hosted by the paper’s Berlin bureau chief, Katrin Bennhold.

The show description begins as follows: “What starts with a mysterious gun in an airport bathroom and a fake refugee identity opens the door to a nationwide network of far-right extremists inside Germany’s military and police.” This series comes from the organization’s in-house Audio division, not its acquired Serial Productions team, and features production from Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, and Kaitlin Roberts. Note that the last limited-run series from the Times Audio team were Rabbit Hole and, well, Caliphate. Technically, The Jungle Prince, but that’s an adaptation of a written feature, so I don’t really count it.

Day X sounds very much like my shit.

The second thing is slightly more peripheral: you might’ve heard the chatter that the New York Times is in talks to buy The Athletic, first reported by the great Sara Fischer over at Axios. … and of course, the Wall Street Journal reported back in March that Axios had apparently discussed a merger with The Athletic at some point in recent history. Listen, if you’re stressing about the podcast business consolidating, take a look at these guys. Geez.

I bring this story up partly because I have a lot of non-podcast-thoughts about what lies within the possibilities of The Athletic — and its humongous headcount — being gobbled up by the Grey Lady. (A launchpad into local news? Will the Times finally take sports seriously? Will sports betting data be beneath them?) Mostly, though, it’s on my radar because I’m wondering what’s going to happen to all of The Athletic’s many, many sports podcasts if this deal takes place. (Save No Dunks.)

Finally, because several folks have written to me asking why Kevin Roose has been commandeering The Daily so much these days, this Michael Barbaro tweet will suffice by way of an explanation. Congrats on the baby!

Meanwhile, on the other coast… Christopher Goffard, the dude who penned Dirty John, has a new series coming out with the Los Angeles Times: The Trials of Frank Carson.

Craig Jenkins on the Budden Situation. The most substantial explainer of what’s happening with Budden — in relation to the dispute with now-former co-hosts Rory and Mal as well as DJ Olivia Dope, who left the Joe Budden Network on the accusation of a troubling workplace environment — can be found at Vulture, where Jenkins connects the brouhaha with a broader history and patterns when it comes to the former rapper. “It’s a pattern that repeats with Joe, one he seems keenly aware of,” writes Jenkins. “He builds things. They break. Then he maneuvers his way into another situation, starting the timer again.”

Today in Data Points. From Edison Research, pulling from its on-going Share of Ear study: “72% of the audio consumption of those who work-from-home happens at home, compared to 29% for those working away from home.” When then bulk of what you do in a given day happens at home, you do most stuff at home, I reckon.

Notes on Blumhouse. The widely respected horror-centric film studio made two audio-related announcements over the past three days: Firstly, Blumhouse, together with Maniac Studios, are going to develop BBC Radio 4’s The Battersea Poltergeist “docudrama” podcast as a scripted series and a companion unscripted series, according to Deadline. The report also noted that the nine-part podcast had driven “nearly 3 million streams and downloads” since its launch in January.

Also drawing from a Deadline report: Blumhouse is collaborating with iHeartMedia to adapt Mordeo, a web thriller series from the Jack Davis and Eli Roth-founded Crypt TV (backed, by the way, Blumhouse), into a fiction podcast series. The two companies had originally struck a production partnership in October 2019.

Revolving Door.

  • Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, WNYC veterans of over two decades, are leaving the public radio station to launch a new investigative podcast with Pineapple Street. The two were previously hosts of Trump Inc, WNYC’s critically acclaimed podcast that investigated the unscrupulous finances of the Trump family. This is what I’d call a big get for Pineapple Street, but Bernstein and Marritz say they’ll still pop up on public radio airwaves… as they continue to track the criminal and civil cases against the former president.
  • Avery Trufelman is ending her run as the host of The Cut Podcast. She’s still with the Vox Media family, however, and will shift her focus to a new season of Nice Try!

Got a new job? Tell me — would love to Let The People Know.