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Insider December 2, 2021 — Stitcher’s revolving door

And radio's enduring appeal

I’m back. Hello, and happy Thursday. What a week! Renewed COVID panic, the Supreme Court considering overturning Roe v. Wade, and Chris Cuomo being suspended indefinitely from CNN — what about his podcast? No further comments! Let’s get right into it; it’s a shorter one today, but I hope to have lots more to share in the coming weeks. We’re cooking things up over here. 

Vox Media and WNYC Studios team up to distribute Today, Explained

I’ll just get to the disclosure right out the gate: Vox Media owns both Today, Explained and Hot Pod. Okay, now, back to the news.

This week, Vox announced it’ll be teaming up with WNYC Studios to distribute Today, Explained starting in 2022. This means member stations can air it regularly, greatly widening the show’s potential reach. The news also comes with the announcement of a new co-host and editorial director for the show — Noel King, former co-host of Morning Edition and Up First — and the promise that WNYC will “identify additional shows” in the Vox Media Podcast Network to distribute.

This is Vox’s first radio deal and follows in the footsteps of The New York Times with The Daily, which is distributed through American Public Media. (Although multiple stations dropped the show in the wake of the Caliphate scandal.) It’s a big deal for Vox and speaks to the enduring appeal of radio, particularly as it relates to car listening. iHeartMedia, Audacy, Cumulus, and SiriusXM all own stations they can use as marketing funnels for their podcasting efforts, but digital-native companies are stuck with display ads and marketing on other podcasts. The radio appeal is clear, even with all the talk of its impending death. Plus, every company wants to “own” car listening, most notably Spotify and Amazon, both of which have launched devices specifically designed to safely encourage car listening (and reduce your radio time).

One other WNYC thing I want to note because we didn’t get to it last week: Gothamist, owned by WNYC, deleted four articles earlier this month that used language from Wikipedia, as well as wording from Salon and New York Times’ articles without credit, per The New York Times. The articles all came from Jami Floyd, the former local host of All Things Considered and senior editor of WNYC’s race and justice unit. Floyd has been reassigned, the paper reports, to “recruit employees, mentor staff members, and lead events.” I don’t have much to say about this other than to point it out because it’s in the audio company zone.

SCOOP: Stitcher CRO Sarah van Mosel steps down, and what’s going on with Stitcher?

Sarah van Mosel, CRO at Stitcher, has stepped down from her role, I’ve learned and independently confirmed with multiple sources. Van Mosel’s LinkedIn reflects the end of her tenure, dated October 2021, and a source familiar with the situation says she’s still consulting with the company with plans to fully step away. She hasn’t announced anything publicly about where and when she might be going somewhere else. However, her departure is one of a few high-level exits at the company since its merger with SiriusXM. Former CEO Erik Diehn stepped down into an advisor role in March and then left the company entirely. He now lists himself as a strategic advisor to Freakonomics and Podchaser on LinkedIn, along with a couple other roles. Drew Welborn, VP of programming and development, also apparently left last month and is now a talent agent at WME, again per LinkedIn. Reminder that E.W. Scripps sold Stitcher to Sirius last year, and while, at least in the tech industry, we tend to expect founders and executives to leave, this is a lot all at once. Hmm… ::conveniently drops email here::

Callin app starts to look like a real podcasting app

Y’all know I’m watching what the social audio apps are up to — I do it so you don’t have to; you’re welcome — and Callin has just undergone a major redesign. Callin is the VC-funded “social podcasting” app going the Substack route with exclusive podcast deals with Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi, among others, like Stereogum. With the redesign, the app now looks like a certifiable podcast app. Here’s a screenshot of the new library. Very Spotify-esque. 

There are also a couple new features. On-demand rooms now include automatic transcripts, which users can suggest edits on. There’s also an interesting “collect your calls” feature, which allows users to show off moments when they called into a show and interacted with the host, turning it into a bragging point — a smart way to encourage people to get involved.

The Callin app combines features from all over the audio space and, I think, has chosen the right ones for their concept. Although features aren’t likely enough to get people to use it, it counts for something. For what it’s worth, Greenwald’s show, which started on November 12th, reaches between 3,000 and 4,000 people per episode, per the app.

Spotify’s top podcast charts of the year are about what you’d expect

I know you don’t need me to tell you this because Instagram and Twitter have already done so, but yes, Spotify’s Wrapped launched yesterday. Podcasters have their own business-oriented wrapped experience where they can pull stats about their show’s performance and also get the added ego boost of fans sharing their most listened to shows, which might have been theirs. At the same time, Spotify also released its end-of-year, most-streamed content charts, including one for podcasts. I bet you can guess what’s on it. Globally, Rogan’s number one, followed by Call Her Daddy, Crime Junkie, TED Talks Daily, and The Daily. (The US-only ranking is essentially the same, except The Daily moves up one and NPR News Now becomes number five.) 

Again, who’s surprised? However, what stands out to me here is how little progress is being made globally in getting new shows on the list. The top five music artists globally include Drake and Justin Bieber (Canadians), BTS (A Korean pop group), and Bad Bunny (from Puerto Rico) — three different languages are represented. Spotify’s been hyper-focused globally on getting podcasts to take off abroad in local languages. It’s launched a podcast accelerator in Brazil, for example, and signed creator deals all over the world, like in Indonesia and Australia. I don’t doubt that locally, some of these shows are taking off, but I’m surprised nothing is even remotely cracking the charts. We talked about Podimo earlier this week, which is also keen to make international podcasts happen, as is Acast and probably Amazon and Facebook, too. When will we see a non-English language show, or even one in English but based outside of the US, make it to the global podcast charts? 

Facebook launches the one button you need to become a podcast app

Facebook’s doing it. It’s working on a button that’s essential to becoming a podcast app: the subscribe button! Stephen Robles spotted the button over on Twitter, and there isn’t much more to say other than, yep, that there is a button. I won’t litigate the subscribe versus follow phrasing, we’ve done enough here today, but I encourage you to take your strong feelings to Twitter. 

I’m out, y’all. Aria’s here tomorrow, and I’m back Tuesday. See ya!