Issue 294,  published February 23, 2021

Tracking: February 23, 2021

Selected Notes

Adam Davidson is leaving Three Uncanny Four, the podcast company he co-founded just under two years ago. The move was confirmed to me on Friday evening. According to an internal email announcing his departure, Davidson wrote: “The podcast industry is changing so rapidly and it has become clear that I have a different view of how to best move forward.” (He later publicly published a variation of the statement as a Twitter thread yesterday.) Davidson declined to comment when reached, though I am curious as to his views about best moving forward, given that he seemed to be in pretty good position to reorient his own ship wherever he thinks it should go. Anyway, as a reminder, Three Uncanny Four was formed in the summer of 2019 as a joint venture between Davidson, the former Stitcher EP Laura Mayer, and Sony Music. The company is editorially independent from Sony Music.

Defector Media reports that Mike Pesca, longtime host of Slate’s daily podcast The Gist, has been suspended indefinitely without pay “following internal discussion about use of racial slur.” A spokesperson tells me: “While I can’t get into specific allegations that are under investigation, I can confirm this was not a decision based around making an isolated abstract argument in a Slack channel. After additional issues were raised by staff, we felt it was appropriate to take further action to indefinitely suspend the show pending an investigation. We are committed to fostering a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for all employees, and we can only do our best work when all employees feel heard, respected and motivated to do their jobs.” More follow-up in the New York Times.

iHeartMedia is acquiring Triton Digital from E.W. Scripps. The deal will go for $230 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. This sale effectively ends Scripps’ adventures in podcasting, following its sale of Stitcher to SiriusXM that completed last October. On the flipside, iHeartMedia gets a new piece for its podcast and digital audio monetization stack, which it’s beefing up to compete with whatever Spotify, and eventually SiriusXM, has got going on.

Meanwhile, Acast is acquiring RadioPublic, the podcast app and creator tools company that was originally founded as an off-shoot of PRX. An unsurprising outcome for the latter, particularly since it never seemed to gain much traction, and the writing seemed to be on the wall when co-founder and longtime podcast technologist Jake Shapiro left the company to join the Apple Podcast team last fall.

Apparently, Joe Rogan popped up on Clubhouse over the weekend. On the one hand, this probably shouldn’t mean very much for his exclusive $100 million deal with Spotify. On the other hand, does this mean very much for his exclusive $100 million deal with Spotify? I guess it doesn’t mean much if sessions aren’t recorded. Which they aren’t. I think?

Strange: Buzzsprout experienced a service interruption over the weekend, which prevented the downloads and consumption of podcasts hosted on the platform. The company attributed the downtime to a denial of service attack, and claims that there was no data breach.

Last Friday, Apple published a companion podcast to its Apple TV+ series, For All Mankind, which the Hollywood Reporter describes as “the first such original audio show from the tech giant.”

In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod… Bit of unexpected timing with this one.

For this week’s episode, we wanted to stage a roundtable discussion episode that attended to the concept of podcast producers, the nature of the role, and how to think about producers as the primary labor pool of the podcast business. And to fill out the roundtable, we brought in Chiquita Channel Paschal and Emmanuel Dzotsi for the discussion.

You might see where I’m going with this: Paschal was once a staffer at Gimlet Media — she has since worked as an editor on The Heart and NPR’s Louder Than a Riot, and is nowadays working on a book — and Dzotsi, of course, was recently minted as a co-host on Reply All.

We recorded this conversation before everything that happened with Reply All last week, which is why you won’t hear anything about that situation aside from a brief preface at the top of the episode. But the substance of the discussion itself nevertheless holds, and indeed, there are some parts of the conversation that carry different weight in light of this new context.

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.

I run this thing.