Issue 262,  published June 16, 2020

Tracking: June 16, 2020

Quick thing before we kick off. Tomorrow will see the launch of a new weekly podcast about podcasts that I’ve been developing with LAist Studios, called Servant of Pod. I’m going to send out an extra newsletter tomorrow to introduce the first episode and discuss the show further — so heads up! — but for now, you can find the trailer here. Subscribe, rate, review, send me emails and pitches and interview ideas, all that good stuff.

I’ll say more in tomorrow’s note, but you can pull some details in this Hollywood Reporter write-up, which also discusses the broader slate that LAist Studios is rolling out over the next few months. (By the way, if you look closely, you’ll see that there are not one, but two Malaysians mentioned in that article.)

Alright, more tomorrow. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a note if you have any questions about the project.

Lemonada Media raises $1.5 million in seed funding. This came in last week: the seed round was led by venture capital and private equity firm Blue Collective, and the new cash will be used to expand Lemonada’s programming slate and recruit a few executive-level hires, including VP roles for production, finance, and growth.

Lemonada was launched last year by Pod Save the People executive producer Jessica Cordova Kramer and author Stephanie Wittels Wachs, and it specializes in creating programming about difficult situations that, as Kramer puts it, is meant to “get you out of bed in the morning and to foster connection and ultimately equity, empathy and wellness.” The company currently operates a portfolio of six shows including Last Day and In The Bubble with Andy Slavitt, and it is said to get about 700,000 listens per month across the whole network. The Texas-based Paper City Magazine profiled Lemonada back in January; you can pull more context from there.

The big thing that stands out to me about this story is the fact that you don’t see very many content-focused podcast companies raising venture capital these days. According to Kramer, part of the reasoning behind the raise was to keep up with the demand; she claims that Lemonada’s audiences have been growing by about 70% every month.

“We decided to do a strategic raise to keep pace with the demand, the ideas, and the desire to make life suck less, one podcast at a time… but have the podcasts come faster than we originally planned, without losing the quality,” she tells me. 

As the fourth season of Slow Burn wraps up launch week…I’m told that it’s the franchise’s most successful launch yet. That is to say, the season’s first day downloads hauled a bigger number than the previous season’s, and it’s further projected to beat its first week numbers. The second episode drops tomorrow, unless you’re a Slate Plus member, in which case you have access to the first three episodes of the season already.
Meanwhile, for the Peter Kafka-heads in the crowd… he’s hosting the new season of Vox Media’s Land of the Giants, which focuses on the rise of Netflix. That’s out on June 23.
Notes for Future Past Selves… Another pod that’s making its debut this week: Rose Eveleth’s Advice for/from the Future, a futurist advice show which is something of spin-off from Eveleth’s main program, Flash Forward.
Shout-out to Chenjerai Kumanyika, who recently appeared on Intercepted with a two-part interview with Ruth Wilson Gilmore on prison abolition even as he’s seeing out the fourth season of Scene on Radio, which saw him reunite with John Biewen. I think he’s also popping up on another show today. What a prolific dude.
From me, in Vulture: a conversation with Running From Cops’ Dan Taberski and Henry Molofsky about the cancellations of Cops and Live PD.

 

I run this thing.