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The Dog and Pony Show: 2018

The fourth annual IAB Podcast Upfronts took place last Thursday at the Convene space in midtown Manhattan. The one-day instant marketplace event sees a string of podcast publishers — some old, some new, some blue — coming together to pitch advertisers on the medium and their respective place within it. Which is to say, it’s a day of suits and handshakes.

I wasn’t able to make it down there this year, but I found this AdExchanger write-up super helpful, which revolved around the theme that the industry’s various listening data-production efforts over the past year have moderately warmed up the medium’s relationship with advertisers. The article also conveyed what appears to be an ongoing touch-and-go relationship with just how granular the industry wants to get with targeted data and advertising. “When you slice an audience so thin, you really lose the focus of the story,” WNYC’s Charles Dannison was quoted as saying. Again, go read the AdExchanger piece.

Anyway, IAB day is also a day of press releases. Here are some notable announcements:

  • WNYC Studios unveiled a partnership with the authors and podcast personalities John Green and Hank Green. Their two existing podcasts, Anthropocene Reviewed and Dear Hank and John, will be remastered and relaunched under the WNYC Studios as part of the partnership, which also includes a new co-production called SciShow Tangents.
  • Gothamist, the local news site that WNYC acquired and re-launched earlier this year, is developing its first podcast.
  • Midroll had multiple show announcements, including: a new project with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network; a collaboration with; an investigative podcast on the world of multi-level marketing schemes (h/t LM); an adaptation of a TV show from its Scripps sister company Newsy; and a series exploring the history of conversion therapy in America produced by Limina House, the studio started by Mikel Ellcessor, a former WNYC chief who, interestingly enough, was credited in this 2015 Fast Company article as the person who first brought the idea of podcasting into the organization.
  • Fans of Topic Studios and Pineapple Street Media’s Missing Richard Simmons, take note: the Dan Taberski-led podcast is now considered part of a broader anthology series, called Headlong, and a second season, titled Surviving Y2K, is scheduled to drop sometime in the fall. A third season, I’m told, is already in production.
  • Panoply is developing a fiction podcast with The Bright Sessions’ Lauren Shippen. Called Passenger List, it will star Kelly Marie Tran in the lead role.
  • NPR announced three upcoming podcasts spanning into the near new year: Believed, a Michigan Radio-led investigation into the Larry Nassar scandal, which is one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history; a yet-to-be-named civil rights cold case podcast; and Primer, which seeks to provide “the history we sometimes forget — or didn’t know in the first place — of the events in the news and ideas dominating our national discourse.”
  • Public Media Marketing is selling a podcast from Dr. Phil. Speaking of which, Dr. Phil has a podcast now.
  • HowStuffWorks and Tenderfoot has partnered with iHeartMedia to produce the second season of Atlanta Monster, called Monster: The Zodiac Killer, which will presumably not star Jake Gyllenhaal.
  • The Cumulus Media-owned radio company Westwood One announced that it is launching a women-focused podcast network.