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Tracking: September 29, 2020

News, broadly…

  • In a bizarre twist, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have arrested a man in his mid-twenties for falsely portraying himself as a former ISIS member. That man, Shehroze Chaudry, is believed to be the individual known as “Abu Huzayfah,” a primary subject in the 2018 New York Times’ audio documentary series, Caliphate. Here’s the GlobalNews.ca report on the matter. Rukmini Callimachi, who hosted the podcast, addressed the arrest in a Twitter thread, noting that the credibility of “Abu Huzayfah” was one of the core narrative tensions in the documentary. The Washington Post’s media critic, Erik Wemple, argues that the podcast insufficiently foregrounded that tension, instead providing credibility to the hoax.

  • Nine months after Robert Krulwich’s retirement, Radiolab has added two new co-hosts: Lulu Miller and Latif Nasser. Molly Webster has also been named as the show’s first Senior Correspondent.

  • After going rogue at the tail end of his Spotify contract, Joe Budden has launched his own independent podcast network. Here’s The Root on that development.

  • Hillary Clinton returns to podcasting today, apparently.
In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod… We’re taking an off-week, but we’re dropping a short episode where I briefly talk about two shows I’ve been thinking a lot about.

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.

Meanwhile, in Cupertino. The Wondery news wasn’t the only Bloomberg podcast scoop last week. Last Thursday, the site drew attention to an acquisition that Apple quietly made earlier this year: Scout FM, which specialized in creating “radio station-like experiences” around podcasting.

The startup was originally founded in mid-2017 by a group of former Medium employees: Cara Meverden, Saul Carlin, and Daniel McCartney. I wrote about the startup in early 2018, back when they were known by another name, Subcast. The thing that interested me about Subcast, then and now, was the team’s focus on figuring out how to build a bridge between the on-demand experience of podcasts and the voice-first nature of smart speakers.

Here’s what I wrote about their pursuits back then:

The way Subcast sees it, the game is to figure out the sweet spot that lies somewhere between the on-demand (and active) nature of podcasts and the linear (and passive) nature of ye’ old radio — and, to some extent, reconcile the two paradigms. “We’ve historically seen this artificial split between podcasts and radio,” Carlin said. “What happens when those two modes of listening converge with voice?”

For now, Subcast has constructed its initial hypothesis around something that looks like a playlist as the atomic unit of the smart speaker audio experience — though, of course, it’s a playlist with some technical complexities.

That’s probably the same thing that interested Apple enough to acquire (or acqui-hire) them. Which is to say, this might be less about the Apple-Spotify podcast competition, and more about the HomePod-Alexa competition.

Anyway, this isn’t the first sneaky podcast-related acquisition that Apple has made. In late 2017, Apple picked up Pop-Up Archive, a startup founded by Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith that focused on making podcasts more searchable.

Meanwhile, in Cupertino. The Wondery news wasn’t the only Bloomberg podcast scoop last week. Last Thursday, the site drew attention to an acquisition that Apple quietly made earlier this year: Scout FM, which specialized in creating “radio station-like experiences” around podcasting.

The startup was originally founded in mid-2017 by a group of former Medium employees: Cara Meverden, Saul Carlin, and Daniel McCartney. I wrote about the startup in early 2018, back when they were known by another name, Subcast. The thing that interested me about Subcast, then and now, was the team’s focus on figuring out how to build a bridge between the on-demand experience of podcasts and the voice-first nature of smart speakers.

Here’s what I wrote about their pursuits back then:

The way Subcast sees it, the game is to figure out the sweet spot that lies somewhere between the on-demand (and active) nature of podcasts and the linear (and passive) nature of ye’ old radio — and, to some extent, reconcile the two paradigms. “We’ve historically seen this artificial split between podcasts and radio,” Carlin said. “What happens when those two modes of listening converge with voice?”

For now, Subcast has constructed its initial hypothesis around something that looks like a playlist as the atomic unit of the smart speaker audio experience — though, of course, it’s a playlist with some technical complexities.

That’s probably the same thing that interested Apple enough to acquire (or acqui-hire) them. Which is to say, this might be less about the Apple-Spotify podcast competition, and more about the HomePod-Alexa competition.

Anyway, this isn’t the first sneaky podcast-related acquisition that Apple has made. In late 2017, Apple picked up Pop-Up Archive, a startup founded by Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith that focused on making podcasts more searchable.

Meanwhile, in Cupertino. The Wondery news wasn’t the only Bloomberg podcast scoop last week. Last Thursday, the site drew attention to an acquisition that Apple quietly made earlier this year: Scout FM, which specialized in creating “radio station-like experiences” around podcasting.

The startup was originally founded in mid-2017 by a group of former Medium employees: Cara Meverden, Saul Carlin, and Daniel McCartney. I wrote about the startup in early 2018, back when they were known by another name, Subcast. The thing that interested me about Subcast, then and now, was the team’s focus on figuring out how to build a bridge between the on-demand experience of podcasts and the voice-first nature of smart speakers.

Here’s what I wrote about their pursuits back then:

The way Subcast sees it, the game is to figure out the sweet spot that lies somewhere between the on-demand (and active) nature of podcasts and the linear (and passive) nature of ye’ old radio — and, to some extent, reconcile the two paradigms. “We’ve historically seen this artificial split between podcasts and radio,” Carlin said. “What happens when those two modes of listening converge with voice?”

For now, Subcast has constructed its initial hypothesis around something that looks like a playlist as the atomic unit of the smart speaker audio experience — though, of course, it’s a playlist with some technical complexities.

That’s probably the same thing that interested Apple enough to acquire (or acqui-hire) them. Which is to say, this might be less about the Apple-Spotify podcast competition, and more about the HomePod-Alexa competition.

Anyway, this isn’t the first sneaky podcast-related acquisition that Apple has made. In late 2017, Apple picked up Pop-Up Archive, a startup founded by Anne Wootton and Bailey Smith that focused on making podcasts more searchable.