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Tracking: February 12, 2019

Quick Flashback. From the May 10, 2016 issue:

… the tension between the two communities with very separate needs and beliefs that share the same infrastructure is very real. It’s podcasts-as-blogs versus podcasts-as-future of radio, it’s the independents versus the corporate. But whatever happens with Apple, we’re going to have to confront this question. The push toward professionalization is fully underway. As [the New York Times’ John] Herrman put it succinctly in a series of tweets: “Whether or not Apple encourages it, online audio will develop beyond current infrastructure… Anyway, I understand horror at the industrialization of a creative medium. Participants I talked to think it’s coming one way or another. So the question *right now* is: by apple’s hand, or someone else’s. These conversations should sound familiar!”

The question is, then: Can we cultivate a media universe that can effectively and simultaneously support two very, very different kinds of communities without compromising the integrity and efforts of each?

I suspect I was smarter two years ago than I am these days.


  • WNYC announced a new Chief Content Officer last week: Andrew Golis, formerly the general manager of Vox Media.
  • From Variety: “San Francisco-based podcasting startup Himalaya Media has raised $100 million in funding to establish itself as a new force in the podcast distribution space… Himalaya’s main investor is Ximalaya, China’s biggest spoken word audio platform.” Seems China wants a piece of This American Pie (see also: Castbox), and their sloshing silly money around to get it. We’ll be watching this broader trend.
  • Slate’s Slow Burn is heading to television, via Epix. Despite having left Slate to start their own podcast studio, Leon Neyfakh and Andrew Parsons will be executive producers, alongside Julia Turner (who is now at the LA Times), Slate CEO Dan Check, and editorial director Gabriel Roth. Might be strange timing, though. Didn’t we already have a TV documentary series on the Clinton impeachment? Relatedly, here’s The Verge: “MGM-owned Epix jumps into the streaming service arena with EpixNow.”
  • From Bloomberg: “In the four years since it first started buying podcast slots, MeUndies has sold almost 9 million pairs of skivvies and hasn’t had to raise any capital. It now has 144 employees and expects to post $75 million in sales this year. Podcasts remain one of its biggest expenses and comprise one-third of its marketing budget.” Podcast advertising works… at least, in the way that it works right now, which may not be the way it works in the future.
  • For the first time in a very long time, NPR is updating Morning Edition theme to appeal to “new listeners,” i.e. the youths. Shouts to that one time NPR asked its audience to remix its theme in 2016. Personally, I stan for the Breakmaster Cylinder take.
  • Might want to keep an eye on this one. From The Verge: “Spotify is now explicitly banning ad blockers, as stated in an updated Terms of Service policy sent out today.”
  • If you miss Another Round’s Tracy Clayton, you can now hear her hosting a new podcast that Pineapple is making with Netflix, called Strong Black Legends.
  • On the smart speaker beat: “Apple’s smart speaker is struggling to grab market share from the Amazon Echo and Google Home” (CNBC) “Google Home can now translate conversations on-the-fly.” (TechCrunch)
  • From The Daily Beast: “Steve Schmidt Storms Off Own Podcast When Asked About Advising Howard Schultz.” Awkward. That podcast, by the way, is called Words Matter.

This time last year. To refresh: I’m copping this new feature from the very smart Ali Griswold, who writes a damn good newsletter on the sharing economy called Oversharing, where we go over the headlines from this point last year.

In the February 13, 2018 issue, Vox Media launched Today, Explained, its bid to take on the daily news podcast genre (then-Vox GM Andrew Golis told me: ““It gives us an opportunity to have an audio daily presence in our audience’s life in the way our website does in text and our YouTube channel does in video”); The Onion released its true crime podcast spoof, A Very Fatal Murder; Crooked Media announced that Pod Save America was heading to HBO; we talked about spray-and-pray tactics and what comes after; and we Call(ed) Your Girlfriend to see what’s up.