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News Rundown: July 13, 2021

Netflix hires N’Jeri Eaton as Head of Podcasts. Bloomberg first reported the hire, noting that her work will be part of the company’s editorial and publishing team.

Eaton joins from Apple, where she was Head of Content at Apple Podcasts at a time when that division — which primarily exists in the podcast ecosystem as a dominant distribution platform — has been dipping deeper into original programming, producing projects like The Line and For All Mankind: The Official Podcast that serve either as marketing or companion pieces to the original media products created by Apple’s other media businesses, like Apple TV+. She held that role for about a year, and before that, Eaton spent four years at NPR, her last title there being the Senior Manager of Program Acquisitions.

Given the context around Eaton’s work at Apple, along with the fact that Netflix’s editorial and publishing team is situated within the company’s marketing division, it’s natural to assume that we should expect a similar marketing/companion quality to the audio projects that will now be developed under Eaton’s tenure. An expansion, perhaps, of what has already been happening with respect to Netflix and podcasts for a few years now.

Then again, the story of Netflix is in some flux right now. Between the competitive heat of the streaming wars and recent headlines suggesting that the company is potentially interested in meaningfully pursuing alternative lines of business (see: video games, commerce), there’s a very real question of just how hard Netflix will push away from being perceived as just the premier video streaming platform towards becoming a broader entertainment publisher… with everything that entails.

City Cast to hit more cities. Four months after launching in Chicago and Denver, David Plotz’s local-news podcast-plus-newsletter venture is planning to expand to eight new markets.

According to the announcement post published yesterday, the new cities are: Boise (ey!), Houston, Las Vegas, Nashville, Oakland, Omaha/Lincoln, Pittsburgh, and Salt Lake City.

“Seeing encouraging audience response to both City Cast Chicago and City Cast Denver, we’re moving swiftly to grow our network,” wrote Plotz in the post. “We chose these cities for their vibrant sense of community, their pride of place, and their voracious appetite for news and podcasts. We couldn’t be more excited to start building City Casts in these new markets.”

He also notes that the company is seeking to fill jobs in all those cities, which you can find here. In case you need a refresher on what City Cast is, hit up my column from October.

I, for one, am excited to see that my city’s getting another news outlet. Shout-out to ~middle America~ baby.

TED forms a partnership with Clubhouse. Announced over the weekend, here’s how the corresponding press release describes the programming arrangement involved in this partnership:

Beginning Monday, July 12, TED will host a series of rooms via their official Clubhouse Club. They will commence the programming with Thank Your Ass Off, a weekly room hosted by New York Times bestselling author and popular TED speaker A.J. Jacobs and creative strategist and celebrated Clubhouse creator Mir Harris. The room builds upon an idea shared in a TED Talk and book by Jacobs, and invites notable guests and the Clubhouse community to come together to “thank the unsung heroes of our lives.” Additional rooms for the summer and beyond will be announced in the weeks ahead.

According to Engadget, TED is free to sell ads and sponsorships for these live Clubhouse experiences themselves, and the platform will not take a cut from those sales. (Which, as always, continues to raise the question of just what exactly Clubhouse’s business model will eventually be.)

Anyway, in case you need the primer: TED is the “ideas worth sharing” that was once just a conference and has since evolved into a broader media company, complete with a robust audio division that publishes popular audio properties like TED Radio Hour and TED Talks Daily. (Also, a meme. As in, “The new Gossip Girl should be set in Los Angeles. Welcome to my TED talk.”) This Clubhouse situation is described as TED’s first social-audio partnership.

This announcement also comes amid reports that Clubhouse downloads surged in June, a development that’s being largely attributed to the uptick in global downloads spurred by the release of the startup’s Android app, and which seems to buck the growing narrative that increasing competition within the social audio space has maybe mortally impeded Clubhouse’s long-term prospects.

Another point of context worth noting: Clubhouse seems to be pushing deeper into the brand-programming-partnership lane in addition to its efforts cultivating native talent. The company had previously announced a programming partnership with the NFL in April.

Meanwhilefrom Rest of World: “Jordan’s government used secretly recorded Clubhouse audio to spread disinformation.”

Live podcast shows appear to be revving back up from the pandemic. In the United States, at least. Maybe even in the U.K. to some extent, which held this year’s British Podcast Awards over the weekend. (Tough beat at the Euros, fellas. Maybe next time.)

The Last Podcast on the Left has announced a tour that starts next month, though they had already played a show at Red Rocks in June. Welcome to Night Vale recently announced 2022 tour dates. The Smartless guys are staging a live show tour next February, with tickets going live later this week. Mission to Zyxx is playing the Bell House in Brooklyn in October, and has already sold out its first run of tickets. I’m hearing that Criminal is planning a fairly extensive tour starting next April. Switched on Pop will be hosting a live taping in Manhattan later this week.

A very rough, informal tally, of course, and I’m sure there’s many more, but the point is: it’s safe to say the live podcast engine is up and running again.

Someone I know regarded this Leandra Medine on The Cutting Room Floor situation the first truly viral podcast episode. I’m inclined to agree.