Issue 273,  published September 8, 2020

Tracking: September 8, 2020

News, broadly…

  • Parcast is moving to form a union, which means that all three podcast content companies acquired by Spotify are organizing. Here’s The Verge on the matter.
  • Edison Research posted a quick update webinar on listening habits during quarantine in late August, and found that podcast consumers have expanded listening time up to 6 hours and 45 minutes per week on average over the second quarter of 2020. That’s about a half hour per week growth since the previous quarter. The big takeaway from this? After the consumption drops in the early stages of the lockdown, it seems that podcast listening might end up actually seeing some growth through these conditions. Here’s the link to the webinar.
  • Take with a grain of salt given the source, but still interesting: a podcast advertising analysis effort by Magellan and Westwood One suggests that ad volumes have recovered since the drops during the early stages of lockdown and are poised to surpass prior levels. Here’s the official blog post.
  • Audible has announced the launch of an upcoming Sesame Street audio show on its platform. Two notable things: firstly, Audible is really pushing hard on the “podcast” language, to a point where the McClatchy press service is now describing Audible as a “podcast service.” Secondly, and this isn’t a podcast-specific point, but Sesame Street is really a gated community now, huh?
  • Curtis Flowers, the subject of In The Dark’s second season, is officially a free man, after the Mississippi attorney general announced that the state was dropping charges against him. Here’s the New York Times on the matter.
  • ESPN has a new podcast franchise in the form of “ESPN Investigates,” which is presumably separate from its 30 for 30 podcast exploits. The first series released under the banner is “Bloodlines,” written and hosted by senior writer Wright Thompson, and not to be flip, but it’s about horses.
Quick question: Any book marketers in the crowd? Working on something that might be a story, hit me up.
In tomorrow’s Servant of Pod. The multi-talented Chenjerai Kumanyika is on the show this week, and over the span of a thirty minute episode, we try to build a profile that adequately captures his incredibly interesting path up to this point as well as his robust worldview, which is grounded in a radical orientation that feels especially salient right now.

Most folks reading this newsletter probably know Chenjerai from his work as the co-host of Uncivil, the Gimlet Media podcast that sought to “ransack” the official history of the Civil War, along with the two seasons of Scene on Radio that he co-hosted with John Biewen, “Seeing White” and the more recent “The Land That Has Never Been Yet.” But his podcast work is just one of the many ways he engages with the world. In addition to making podcasts, Kumanyika is also an academic, an organizer, an artist, and a journalist, with the thread unifying all these roles being his distinct interest in voraciously interrogating the way things work.

I really enjoyed speaking with Chenjerai, and I’m pretty happy with how the episode turned out. Still, it’s a shame that Servant of Pod is committed to the brevity thirty-minute episodes, because our conversation sprawled for over an hour and it hit on a bunch of things — political economy, fomenting a worker’s revolution, etc. — that didn’t end up in the final cut. At the end of the day, the format defines the choices. Next time, perhaps.

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.

I run this thing.