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Miscellaneous Bites: September 4, 2018

Just a reminder: The IAB Podcast Upfronts takes place in New York this Thursday. Apparently, NPR CEO Jarl Mohn and iHeartRadio CEO Robert Pittman will share the stage to close out the event… natch, I guess?

Running. Keep an eye on Wonder Media Network, a new audio-first media company focused on women and politics started by former Sonima.com editor Shira Atkins and former Bloomberg News reporter Jenny Kaplan. Their first project, Women Belong in the House, which covers the women running for Congress this year, drops this Thursday.

We The North. Two Canadian podcast conferences to track in the fall:

  • The Hot Docs Podcast Festivals in Toronto returns on November 1-5, 2018.
  • Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, the inaugural Vancouver Podcast Festival kicks off November 8-10, 2018.

Looks like y’all got a healthy circuit brewing up there.

The Taste of the Machine. I’ve been listening to film podcasts for as long as I’ve been listening to podcasts — shouts to the /Filmcast, the Filmspotting family, Bald Move, etc. — and so it’s super interesting to see that Rotten Tomatoes, as part of its broader effort to diversify what constitutes a “critic” that contributes to its Tomatometer, is now including individuals who primarily deliver reviews through podcasts into its rubric.

The New York Times has a good description of this: “For the first time, people who review films exclusively via podcast can apply to become Tomatometer-approved. Podcasts must publish at least four episodes a month to be eligible, among other criteria, although Rotten Tomatoes stipulates that ‘podcasts reaching underrepresented groups will also be considered on a case-by-case basis.’”

Rotten Tomatoes’ efforts can also be read as a response to the changing economics and realities of critics and criticism. (Which is nowadays, as you might’ve guessed, pretty darn shitty… but that’s a whole other column.) Anyway, while everyone should probably brace for inevitable hiccups, frictions, and other associated growing pains with this move — along with your garden-variety skepticism against Rotten Tomatoes in general, a viewpoint with which I am mildly sympathetic — this is nonetheless a somewhat satisfying validation of podcasts as a  site of taste-creation by a fairly powerful platform. One imagines inclusion will also come with discovery benefits.

Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Fandango, by the way, in case that’s useful information to you.

Number of the Week
24

That is, 24 hours, which is the temporal length of the podcast marathon that the writer Rembert Browne held last week as part of a campaign to raise $24,000 in order to send kids from his childhood camp in Southwest Atlanta to see the US Open. Browne met his goal, ultimately raising $26,571 from 559 people. He embarked on the nonstop recording session, which ran from noon on Thursday to noon on Friday, at the Anchor studios in New York.

Miscellaneous Bites

  • Eric McDaniel, editor of NPR’s daily news podcast Up First, published a Twitter thread last week outlining his personal attempt to parse through the gender breakdown of the show’s guest booking. Really cool project. (Twitter) Producer Barton Girdwood later followed up: “I’d love to see how these numbers stack up next to other daily news pods. While podcasting in general has trended towards diversity… have the major outlets responsible for the daily pods followed suit?” (Twitter)
  • RadioPublic’s crowdfunding campaign concluded in the wee hours of Monday. In the end, the podcast app raised almost $150,000 from 403 investors, beating its original target by over 500%. (Republic) I initially wrote about the effort back in June.
  • WBEZ recently released 16 Shots, a collaboration with the Chicago Tribune that offers a comprehensive look into the police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was fatally shot sixteen times by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke. The podcast is designed to track alongside Van Dyke’s trial, which begins September 5. (WBEZ)
  • Audiobook watch: Audible UK’s revenues reportedly grew by 45% across 2017 to over £97 million. It also posted its first operating profit to date. (The Bookseller)
  • Shouts to Sound Opinions, which celebrated its 666th episode last Friday.
  • The Atlantic’s Crazy/Genius returns for its second season last week. (Apple Podcasts)
  • Fans of Two-Up’s 36 Questions rejoice: apparently, the team is working on a second musical. (h/t J Leeman) (Twitter)
  • Made some additions to the Fall 2018 Preview list. More to come. (Website)
  • Someone recently flagged to me the plot of an upcoming CBS called God Friended Me, in which an outspoken atheist podcaster is… friended by God on Facebook. It does not star Zach Braff, and presumably outspoken atheist podcaster Sam Harris is not involved in the production. (Trailer)