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Tracking: May 14, 2019

On the international front… Two stories that I’m thinking about:

(1) From The National, by Miriam Berger: “The rise of Arabic podcasts: ‘a digital revival of a long-term tradition’” Here’s the chunk that stuck:

Ramsey Tesdell, 36, one of Sowt’s co-founders, says… Sowt has so far remained in a “weird no-man’s land” free from government pressure because traditional licensing regulations and other rules that govern media don’t yet extend to podcasts. Authorities have yet to take notice of podcasts, says Fisher. “That’s going to change as it becomes more mainstream.”

You can take that, and pair it with…

(2) From The New York Times, by Amy Qin: “In China, a Podcast Inspired by ‘This American Life’ Gives Voice to the Real.” The money chunk:

Another challenge facing “Gushi FM” is that the show is firmly rooted in reality, warts and all, at a time when many Chinese are looking to tune out daily anxieties. That desire has fueled a surge in escapist entertainment like online live-streaming, Korean television dramas and blogs that churn out feel-good clickbait content.

These exist alongside a powerful state media apparatus bent on promoting “positive energy” by pushing party propaganda, including in forms as unlikely as rap performances and game shows. Even popular audio streaming internet platforms often focus more on promoting self-improvement through educational courses and audiobooks.

… and you can tie THAT to last year’s Marketplace piece on China’s $7 billion FOMO industry, which instigated an entire conversation around whether China’s “podcast model” can work State-side that never quite accounted for the whole state media apparatus part of the whole equation.



  • ICYMI: Stitcher hires Sarah van Mosel as its new Chief Revenue Officer, who replaces Korri Kolesa. Van Mosel was most recently the Chief Podcast Sales and Strategy Officer at Market Enginuity.
  • Chartable, the podcast analytics company, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding from a group of investors that includes Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital, Ryan Hoover’s Weekend Fund, Naval Ravikant, Greycroft, The Fund, Jim Young, and a syndicate led by Lukas Biewald.
  • Heads up: Art19 and Voxnest are now certified for the IAB 2.0 podcast measurement guidelines.
  • This is probably useful to know for a ton of people. From Deadline: “ICM Partners Names Caroline Edwards Director Of Podcast Initiatives.”
  • What a difference an election makes. From RBR: “The House Appropriations Committee has proposed $495 million in advance funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in fiscal year 2022 — the first increase for public broadcasting in 10 years.”
  • Slate is staging a whole day of Slate things, called Slate Day, on June 8, Slate Slate Slate, here’s the link.
  • Courtesy of Food 4 Thot’s Joseph Osmundson, via McSweeney’s: “Damn You, Ira Glass and Your Perfect Male Vocal Fry.”

Release Notes

  • Howard Stern will appear on Fresh Air for the first time this week, via a two-part that’ll air on Tuesday and Wednesday. AWWWWWWW YEAHHHHHH
  • Ear Hustle returns for its fourth season on June 5.
  • Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress and CEO of Automattic, will soon launch a podcast about the future of work, and how it’s distributed.
  • Vox Media has a new narrative-ish show coming out that’s built around critic Todd VanDerWerff: Primetime, the first season of which will examine TV’s relationship with the presidency. I’m all about narrative-ish podcasts built around critics, shout-out to Willa Paskin’s Decoder Ring and Amy Nicholson’s Halloween Unmasked.
  • The BBC has a new pod out on the Apollo 11 moon landing, called 13 Minutes to the Moon. (30 Seconds to Mars? Whatever. Don’t tell Kyrie.) A big hook the team is pushing is the fact that Hans Zimmer did the theme song. BWOONGGG.
  • This week, KQED will launch Truth Be Told, an advice podcast made by and for people of color.