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Tracking: September 1, 2020

HmmmMMMmmm. From Mac Rumors: “The Apple Watch will no longer be counted in podcast listener numbers for Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab partners because it has been found to falsely inflate listener numbers.”

Still digging around to figure out the ramifications of this story for big and small publishers. More soon, hopefully.

By the way, it’s Upfronts season… and as you would expect in the COVID-19 era, the festivities are all taking place virtually. The IAB Podcast Upfronts is set to take place on September 9 to 11, and it will feature presentations from the usual suspects like Entercom, Stitcher, Wondery, NPR, and iHeartMedia, plus some new additions, like Pushkin and the New York Times.

Here’s a wrinkle: this year, the IAB will be receiving some counter-programming from a new event operation called The X Fronts, which purports to be an upfront event for “independent podcast networks.” Participants include Crooked Media, Talkhouse, Headgum, Wonder Media Network, and QCODE. That takes place later in the month, on September 24.

In other news…

  • Pinna, the paid podcast platform focused on kids programming, is offering six months of free access to teachers and educators. More info here.
  • NPR hires Aisha Harris, formerly the op-ed culture editor at the New York Times, as the fourth chair of the newly expanded Pop Culture Happy Hour, which celebrated ten years of publishing last month. (Congrats!) That podcast is set to go daily in October.
  • The Washington Post is increasing production of its Spanish-language news podcast, “El Washington Post,” from two days a week to four. Here’s the official press release on that move.
  • Sway, the New York Times’ upcoming Opinion podcast with Kara Swisher, is set to debut on September 21, with episodes dropping every Monday and Thursday.
  • The historian Jon Meacham is launching a new podcast with Cadence13 that’ll spotlight “some of the most important, impactful and relevant speeches in history,” called It Was Said. Kind of interesting in the context of Spotify’s partnership with C-Span to distribute speeches from the two political conventions and the funeral of John Lewis.

In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod. I speak with Paul Bae, one of the more prominent operators in the fiction podcast genre — see: The Black Tapes, The Big Loop, Marvels — who is also notable as being part of a growing community of podcast people finding opportunities in film and television production.

Paul is a really interesting guy, in addition to being an exceedingly affable and generous person, He’s lived a thousand lives before this point, having once been a youth pastor, a stand-up comedian, and an actor, among other things. (Fun fact: you’d spot him in The Interview, the Seth Rogen/James Franco 2014 movie that’s perhaps better known as an international incident.) Talking with him, it’s hard not to be struck by how he exudes a strong sense of gratitude; that he’s happy just to be here. Paul’s never short with stories, though I get the feeling I’m only seeing the tip of the iceberg.

I reached out to Paul principally because I was interested in his perspective on the deepening relationship between podcasting and Hollywood: why it seems like studios are increasingly interested in the medium as a farm for intellectual property, what this means for producers native to the space, and to what extent should this dynamic be viewed as an opportunity and as a risk. There’s quite a bit more beyond that, and I’m excited for you to hear it.

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, and so on.