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Insider: October 9, 2020

Podfront partners with NPR Curtis Flowers speaks BBC Chair row... and more!

Podfront UK teams up with NPR. Podfront UK has announced that it will now be selling NPR’s podcast inventory in the UK and Ireland. Podfront UK, readers will remember, launched back in July 2019 as a collaboration between Stitcher and Wondery to extract value from their UK inventory with a locally based sales operation.

The addition of NPR to the venture, Podfront UK’s first partnership, seems to underline that it’s working well so far, and that more US publishers are becoming convinced of the value of monetising listeners in non-US markets more aggressively.In the Dark wraps up. The APM Reports podcast will drop a final episode on 14 October, and it will be a conversation between host Madeleine Baran and Curtis Flowers. Flowers was the subject of the podcast’s award winning second series, having been tried six times for the same murder. After a Supreme Court ruling, all charges against him were dropped last month. This is his first full length interview on the show, which to date has published 19 episodes about his case.

Change in format for Modern Love. The podcast, based on the New York Times column of the same name, will relaunch on 14 October as an in-house audio product. It had previously been made as a co-production with WBUR in Boston and featured actors reading popular pieces from the column.
It now returns to the NYT fold with new hosts and a new format. Daniel Jones and Miya Lee, who edit the column, take the mic for a more relaxed, conversational tone. The trailer suggests that writers and readers of the column will now be incorporated alongside readings of Modern Love stories. As a barometer for how audio is being thought about at the Grey Lady, post Serial acquisition, I find this shift interesting.
Change in format for Modern Love. The podcast, based on the New York Times column of the same name, will relaunch on 14 October as an in-house audio product. It had previously been made as a co-production with WBUR in Boston and featured actors reading popular pieces from the column.
It now returns to the NYT fold with new hosts and a new format. Daniel Jones and Miya Lee, who edit the column, take the mic for a more relaxed, conversational tone. The trailer suggests that writers and readers of the column will now be incorporated alongside readings of Modern Love stories. As a barometer for how audio is being thought about at the Grey Lady, post Serial acquisition, I find this shift interesting.
Change in format for Modern Love. The podcast, based on the New York Times column of the same name, will relaunch on 14 October as an in-house audio product. It had previously been made as a co-production with WBUR in Boston and featured actors reading popular pieces from the column.
It now returns to the NYT fold with new hosts and a new format. Daniel Jones and Miya Lee, who edit the column, take the mic for a more relaxed, conversational tone. The trailer suggests that writers and readers of the column will now be incorporated alongside readings of Modern Love stories. As a barometer for how audio is being thought about at the Grey Lady, post Serial acquisition, I find this shift interesting.

Fight brewing over BBC chair post. A brief follow up to my recent piece about the upcoming scrutiny of the BBC Sounds app and what it tells us about the broadcaster’s political fortunes. With new BBC Director General hitting the ground running, making promises to restore trust in the BBC’s impartiality and refocusing attention away from the “battle” with streaming giants, the political fight has turned to a different vacancy in BBC leadership: the chair of the BBC Board.

The Board acts as an internal watchdog, ensuring that the BBC is on track to meet its targets and remains politically independent. The current Chair, Sir David Clementi, is not seeking a second four-year term, so there’s currently an open field for his replacement. His successor will be appointed by the government, and crucially has the power to fire the Director General if there is just cause.

With right wing political critique of the BBC on the rise again after what seemed like a temporary truce in the early days of the coronavirus lockdown, several figures from that side of the political spectrum have been touted as possibilities for the role.

Conservative peer Charles Moore was rumoured to be Boris Johnson’s choice and was much-discussed in the media for a few days, before he ruled himself out of the race after revelations about his previously published views on Black people, Muslims and gay conversion therapy surfaced. Former Conservative minister Nicky Morgan and former tabloid editor Kelvin MacKenzie are both also thought to have thrown their hats into the ring.

Although the formal recruitment process has yet to start, it seems clear already that the choice of who succeeds Clementi in February 2021 is going to be one that the BBC’s critics fight very hard to influence.Religion of Sports partners with PRX. The production company, founded by Tom Brady, Gotham Chopra and Michael Strahan, is moving into podcasting via a distribution partnership and an “editorial and production collaboration”. So far, Religion of Sports has focused on video projects, but will now be getting into “longform narrative series” about sports and spirituality. More information at Deadline.

As a sidenote, I notice that Religion of Sports has already been credited as the author of two podcasts: More Than a Game and Now for Tomorrow — the latter being a quarantine self care show hosted by Gotham Chopra’s father, Deepak.Why Spotify loves influencers. I’ve seen this Fast Company piece making the rounds a bit recently, in which Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer Dawn Ostroff talks about the company’s intentions in targeting influences for podcast partnerships.

As I think we might all have suspected, this strategy is mostly about attracting young people to Spotify’s platform and then keeping them there. “It’s hard to capture the attention of this youth generation,” she said. “Everything is on demand, so they can get everything anytime they want. And being able to stand out in that crowd and have an audience and have people want to either see or hear any particular person is a Herculean task these days.”

Read the rest of what she had to say on the subject here.Audioboom partners with Rogers Sports & Media in Canada. Another expansion into Canada, this time from Audioboom, which has inked a partnership with major Canadian broadcaster Rogers Sports & Media. Rogers will handle Canadian sales for Audioboom’s original shows and their slate of partner publishers, which includes shows like No Such Thing As A Fish and Casefile.

The release states that Canada is Audioboom’s fourth largest territory for downloads. As well as owning TV and radio stations, Rogers Sports & Media is already invested in the podcast industry: the company owns the Frequency Podcast Network and acquired the Pacific Content agency in 2019. A reminder: Acast just announced its own expansion into Canada a couple of weeks ago.A weird one this but… The latest voice to express concern about the fortunes of local news is… the Queen. The British monarch this week wrote a letter to the News Media Association, the industry organisation that represents all major national and local newspaper publishers in the UK, to underline her support for the industry. “Having trusted, reliable sources of information, particularly at a time when there are so many sources competing for our attention, is vital,” she said.

It’s a rare quasi-political intervention from the UK’s head of state, who normally stays well away from any commentary on the media. Local news in the UK is facing much the same challenge as in the US, with concerns that cuts and closures in local newsrooms will make it much harder to detect and report the next major disease outbreak. Further context for NPR’s experiments in localisation, I guess.