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Tracking: April 20, 2021

I’d keep a very close eye on today’s Apple “Spring Loaded” event if I were you. There’s been a bit of reporting leading up to the event that suggests Apple’s going announce some sort of “paid subscription” service to its podcast platform. Whether this means an Apple TV+/Netflix for podcast-style service or something more Patreon-like within the Apple Podcast context — as noted in this Wall Street Journal report — is the question, and we’ll get that answered in a few hours. More broadly, though, the big organizing question will be: how will today’s announcement impact the open podcast ecosystem?

Back to Spotify: Last week, the company rolled out a revamped podcast charts experience, complete with a blog post explaining what the charts do (and do not) actually convey. It’s a transparency bit that doubles as a smart piece of marketing, given Apple Podcasts’ historical opacity around their own charts system, which has for the longest time been the most important piece of podcast marketing real estate, so much so that it spawned countless “how do the Apple Podcast charts work?” posts, including one from myself back in 2016.

The new iteration of NPR’s Invisibilia, now hosted by Kia Miakka Natisse and Yowei Shaw, launches this week.

Also returning this week: Slate’s Slow Burn, with a new season hosted by Noreen Malone on the U.S. run-up to the Iraq War. The eight-part series will kick off tomorrow, and Slate’s doing that thing where Slate Plus members will get eight additional episodes with bonus content.

Here’s an intriguing new company I’m tracking: Sonoro Media, a venture-backed podcast studio that’s working to position itself as a leading provider of “U.S. Latinx and global Hispanic content in audio.” The company has about 25 employees in Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico City, and it has been operating under the radar over the past year or so, poking its head up last October with a fiction horror project called Crónicas Obscuras. Today, they’re rolling out its first big project of the year: Toxicomanía: El Experimento Mexicano, a Spanish-language fiction podcast starring Luis Gerardo Méndez, Aida López, and Rainn Wilson.

Leo Laporte’s sixteen-year-old (!) TWiT podcast network is launching a membership program, called Club TWiT. The acronym, by the way, stands for “This Week in Tech,” in case you’re unfamiliar.