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Tracking: December 8, 2020

Select news…

  • The Joe Rogan Experience is now officially exclusive to Spotify, realizing the full scope of the deal brokered between the influential (and controversial) podcast host and the aspiring all-consuming audio platform. At this writing, though, the show remains in the top five of the Apple Podcast charts, which carries only one episode for consumption outside of the Spotify platform.
  • Howard Stern is staying at SiriusXM, with both sides announcing this morning that his exclusive agreement has been extended for another five years.
  • Google Podcasts has added support for private RSS feeds, a feature that’s already somewhat common across most listening platforms. (Spotify remains a prominent exception.) As a reminder, private RSS feeds are a crucial component when it comes to shows that use members-only content as part of their revenue mix. Here’s The Verge on the matter.
  • Slate’s Political Gabfest is celebrating fifteen years this week. Fifteen years! That’s almost half my age! What!
  • From a circulated press release: “IAB Tech Lab has released the Podcast Measurement Technical Guidelines 2.1 for public comment for a 30-day period which begins today and lasts until December 31, 2020.” Heads up.
  • Bookmarking this, just in case: Dan Le Batard is leaving ESPN in January. Here’s the Sports Illustrated write-up.
  • In parallel radio news… From the Los Angeles Times: “Walt Disney Co. shutting down influential Radio Disney after two decades.”
  • From NPR: “Benjamin Netanyahu’s Son Makes Podcast Debut.” Curiously enough, an interesting and international variation on the column I wrote a few weeks back on the Rise of the Politician podcast.

Report: Amazon in “exclusive talks” to acquire Wondery. The Wall Street Journal broke the news last week, with sources telling the Journal that the talks value the podcast startup at over $300 million. This is the latest notch in a process dating back to the fall, when Bloomberg reported that Wondery had made arrangements “to explore strategic options, including a potential sale.” A follow-up report, also by Bloomberg, identified Apple and Sony Music as interested suitors. Looks like they’re out of the picture now, probably due to the price tag.

The deal is not done yet. The Journal notes that the talks are on-going and could still fall apart, but I reckon we’ll probably see this thread resolve sooner than later. One detail I’m interested to know: the extent to which Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez will be given a long-term employment contract, a measure of how Amazon weighs Lopez’s legal drama.Steve Wilson, longtime Apple rep, joins QCODE as Chief Strategy Officer. Years ago, it used to be the case that you had to manage a relationship with Wilson to get reliable placement on the front page of Apple Podcasts. (This was a widely known open secret, but was officially recorded for posterity in a 2016 New York Times piece.) These days, the Apple Podcasts team handling marketing and promotional inbounds is significantly larger, and the process is generally thought to be much less bottle-necked.

Wilson — a fifteen-year veteran at Apple — is now leaving the company for a podcast shop well-rooted within the Hollywood system, tying a bright red bow on what is truly the end of an era. Here’s the Variety write-up on the appointment.The Daily looks forward. CNN’s Kerri Flynn who wrote a piece last week on how the New York Times’ singular daily news podcast views its place in the world beyond Inauguration Day, and it’s a meaty one.

Keep an eye out for all the worthwhile details scattered throughout, like the team’s insistence of not having The Daily be “The Michael Barbaro Show” — the core tension of that franchise at this point, in my opinion — as well as GroupM, described as the largest media buying agency in the world, observing that its clients has increased their podcast spend by about tenfold over the past year.

The question of how The Daily will change for the post-Trump world is an intriguing one, though I personally wonder if they even should. There’s a lot to unpack even in the very framing of that question: to begin with, it doesn’t seem like a given that we’re due to immediately transition into some “post-Trump world” even in an America led by President Joe Biden, and the jury is still out on whether the news hungriness of the last four years will ultimately regress back to some mean in the absence of the concern, anxiety, and chaos actively stoked by the Trump administration.

Besides, there’s plenty of concern, anxiety, and chaos to go around, stemming far beyond the Trump administration. Take your pick: climate change, the long-tail of the pandemic and vaccination, all sorts of explosive inequalities, and so on. The dominant vector of newsworthy stories from the last five years may be changing, but the newsworthy stories themselves are largely the same as it ever was.

Anyway, there’s an even bigger candidate for questions about change with respect to a post-Trump world: Crooked Media. I wonder what they’re thinking.

Speaking of the Times… Looks like Serial Productions’ Nice White Parents is being adapted into a half-hour HBO series by Issa Rae and Adam McKay. (As a reminder, the Times acquired Serial Productions earlier this summer.)

According to Variety, the TV version will be a “satirical look at the conflict and comedy that arise when highly resourced white parents, who claim to have the best intentions, wield their influence over generations of black and brown students within the NY public school system.”

That translation from the one to the other seems a little strange to me, but okay!

‘Tis the season for year-end lists… and the opening volley is well underway. TIME’s Eliana Dockterman went first with a drop two weeks ago, and last week, The Bello Collective published their hundred-strong selections from the year.

My own top ten list for Vulture will drop later this week. There were several omissions that I feel really bad about, but hey, unexpectedly competitive year, even if, in my opinion, there wasn’t any single breakout.

Speaking of which…

‘Tis the season for year-end lists… and the opening volley is well underway. TIME’s Eliana Dockterman went first with a drop two weeks ago, and last week, The Bello Collective published their hundred-strong selections from the year.

My own top ten list for Vulture will drop later this week. There were several omissions that I feel really bad about, but hey, unexpectedly competitive year, even if, in my opinion, there wasn’t any single breakout.

Speaking of which…

‘Tis the season for year-end lists… and the opening volley is well underway. TIME’s Eliana Dockterman went first with a drop two weeks ago, and last week, The Bello Collective published their hundred-strong selections from the year.

My own top ten list for Vulture will drop later this week. There were several omissions that I feel really bad about, but hey, unexpectedly competitive year, even if, in my opinion, there wasn’t any single breakout.

Speaking of which…

Tomorrow’s Servant of Pod will be able all about the year in podcasts. We switched up formats to recorded a round-table with myself, the New Yorker’s Sarah Larson, and Crime Writers On…’s Rebecca Lavoie, where we talked about what we noticed about show releases, what we found ourselves drawn towards, and what kinds of shows we found ourselves avoiding the kinds of shows in this very long and ghastly year. And of course, we went over our respective top three picks.

If SOP lasts past this season, I’d love to return to the round-table format with more frequency, and maybe blow up the picks format a little further. Perhaps a panel with ten people with one pick each? Could be wild, could be interesting.

You can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. Desktop listening is also recommended. Share, leave a review, so on.

Tomorrow’s Servant of Pod will be able all about the year in podcasts. We switched up formats to recorded a round-table with myself, the New Yorker’s Sarah Larson, and Crime Writers On…’s Rebecca Lavoie, where we talked about what we noticed about show releases, what we found ourselves drawn towards, and what kinds of shows we found ourselves avoiding the kinds of shows in this very long and ghastly year. And of course, we went over our respective top three picks.

If SOP lasts past this season, I’d love to return to the round-table format with more frequency, and maybe blow up the picks format a little further. Perhaps a panel with ten people with one pick each? Could be wild, could be interesting.

You can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. Desktop listening is also recommended. Share, leave a review, so on.

Tomorrow’s Servant of Pod will be able all about the year in podcasts. We switched up formats to recorded a round-table with myself, the New Yorker’s Sarah Larson, and Crime Writers On…’s Rebecca Lavoie, where we talked about what we noticed about show releases, what we found ourselves drawn towards, and what kinds of shows we found ourselves avoiding the kinds of shows in this very long and ghastly year. And of course, we went over our respective top three picks.

If SOP lasts past this season, I’d love to return to the round-table format with more frequency, and maybe blow up the picks format a little further. Perhaps a panel with ten people with one pick each? Could be wild, could be interesting.

You can find Servant of Pod on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or the great assortment of third-party podcast apps that are hooked up to the open publishing ecosystem. Desktop listening is also recommended. Share, leave a review, so on.