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Tracking: July 2, 2019

First Look Media has shut down two of its digital properties: Topic Magazine and The Nib, and the organization appears to be doing so to allocate more resources to’s original video content production. Study Hall’s media newsletter first reported the development.

However, I’ve been told that these cuts do not affect the podcast operations at Topic Studios, and that business over there proceeds as usual. Over the past few months, Topic Studios has been involved in a few high-profile podcast productions, including the latest season of Dan Taberski’s Headlong and John Cameron Mitchell’s star-studded podcast musical, Anthem: Homunculus.

Meanwhile, in China… I’ve been keeping an eye on Rita Liao’s reporting over at TechCrunch on what appears to be the country’s growing crackdown on its audio app market, particularly those that are driven in part by user-generated content.

From a piece that came out yesterday:

On Friday, a total of 26 audio-focused apps were ordered to terminate, suspend services, or have talks with regulators as they were investigated and deemed to have spread “historical nihilism” and “pornography,” according to a notice posted by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).

The clampdown has, in a way, been foreshadowed by a recent attack of user-generated audio content. Last month, Apple restricted Chinese users from accessing podcasts that aren’t hosted by its local partners, effectively preventing those with a Chinese Apple account from consuming content unchecked by Chinese censors.

Re-upping my column from May, if you need background context on the podcast portion of that ecosystem.


  • From The Wrap: “Comedy Podcast Network Forever Dog Names Ex-Turner VP Gary Reisman as CEO.”
  • From Deadline: “Podcasts From Lesley Arfin & Margaret Cho Lead Debut Slate Of Earios, Network Co-Founded By Former WME Comedy Agent Priyanka Mattoo.” The founders of Earios were also interviewed by Vulture.
  • Spotify’s global head of advertising, Brian Benedik, is stepping down in September. No clear replacement appears to be set, and the development is the latest string of departures that have hit the company, which also includes global head of publishing Adam Parness. Digital Music News has a good tally of the notable exits.
  • iHeartMedia has been approved for a direct listing on the NASDAQ. Here’s the Variety write-up on the matter.
  • From Digiday: “Cosmopolitan is launching a branded podcast with Tinder.” The dating app previously had a branded podcast through Gimlet Creative.
  • This week marks the fortieth anniversary of the Sony Walkman, the first major step towards portable audio consumption. Here’s NPR on the matter.

Release Notes

  • Rooster Teeth, the Austin-based media and entertainment company with considerable YouTube and podcast operations, is having a go at staging its first podcast festival during its annual RTX convention, slated to take place July 5-7 at the Austin Convention Center. Details here.
  • If you’ve been wondering what’s been going on with that Wall Street Journal-Gimlet daily news podcast collaboration, heads up: the project, called The Journal, appears to have made a soft launch.
  • Do you like Feist? I like Feist. And guess what: Feist, too, has a pod now, co-presented by Talkhouse and the aforementioned Earios.