Buzz No. 6, Podcast News April 9-15, 2015

Each week in Buzz, I’ll give a roundup of my favorite podcast reads from around the internet.

Note: I’m cheating this week–since this is posting late–and including two links from today, April 16th.

‘Serial’ fans still itching for more investigation into Adnan Syed’s case are in luck. The first episode of the new podcast ‘Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed,’ which delves deeper into Syed’s case from ‘an investigatory perspective instead of a narrative one,’ is now available to stream.

If you followed Serial, by now you may have heard of Undisclosed, the new podcast about the State vs. Adnan Syed. This piece from Huffington Post talks about the major players–all lawyers–in the new podcast: Rabia Chaudry, also a close friend of Adnan’s, Susan Simpson, and Colin Miller. What the show is trying to accomplish is somewhat up for debate. Chaudry argues here that it will be “a smart, nuanced legal argument based on the totality of the facts of the case.” Others have suggested–even Chaudry herself–that the podcast is created with a belief in Adnan’s innocence. Unfortunately, I don’t think both things can co-exist (nuance and bias are tough to balance). You can read our take on the first episode of Undisclosed here.



But anyone who has gotten hooked on a podcast knows that audio can be much more than just narration. Emma Rodero, a communications professor at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, studies how audio productions retain people’s attention. Her work has shown that a dramatized audio structure, using voice actors who tell the story exclusively through dialogue, stimulate listeners’ imagination more than a typical “voice of God” narration. Participants who listened to the dramatized structure reported that they generated more vivid images in their minds, and conjured the images more quickly and easily than those in the narration condition. They also reported being more emotionally aroused and interested in the story.

Wen’s piece from The Atlantic is a fascinating look at how storytelling affects us chemically and emotionally. But what makes it great is that it specifically examines audio and what is most effective in making a podcast resonate with its audience. She opens with the universal need for characters but then goes even deeper, showing how strong voice acting is more effective in bringing those characters to life. It praises the use of sound effects to enrich the experience. What’s nice to see is that people are starting to come around to how little we’ve scratched the surface of audio storytelling. The best is yet to come.



This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office invalidated key parts of a patent held by Personal Audio, LLC. Personal Audio claimed proprietary ownership over a crucial technology used in the podcasting medium and sought to extract licensing fees and litigation fees from numerous podcasters—a practice derisively referred to as “patent trolling.”

I’m not sure if you’ve been following this story about patent trolls going after podcasters, but it’s intermittently been flaring up over the last few years. What it boils down to is that some company bought a few patents that cover an insanely broad amount of technologies. And by not being hyper specific, they allow the owners to sue indiscriminately. The technology in question is a patent owned by Personal Audio that covers an “updateable electronic table of contents.” The goal of the patent troll is to sue a company and then settle quietly out of court. The threat is simple: Attorneys cost a lot of money. If you settle with Personal Audio for an undisclosed amount of money, they promise to make it hurt less than a prolonged legal battle. Eventually Personal Audio got litigious with Adam Carolla over his podcast, and Carolla teamed up with other heavyweights like Marc Maron and Joe Rogan to crowdfund a legal team to fight back. According to this piece, the battle might finally be over. And, for once, the good guys won.



Several years ago, Maron’s stand-up career was failing, his radio gig had fallen apart and there seemed to be few chances left for a middle-age comedian to make his mark — or even make a living.

In podcast circles, Maron’s rise from floundering standup comic and out-of-work radio host is often told. However, some of us never knew the full story, even after Maron won us over with his often excellent interviews on WTF. You can learn a lot about Maron from his past and how it affects his current work. Maron is still coping with all that failure, but that coping makes for one hell of a podcast.



When listeners find a podcast that speaks to them, they easily feel like they are part of a community of other people that are in on the same conversation.

This quick hitter from is really about advertising and how certain segments of media haven’t quite come around to podcasting and the force that it can and will be. My belief is that the true believers in radio are a minority but they’re hopelessly devoted. Passy’s also making a connection between the effectiveness of podcast advertising and the way we think we’re best friends with our favorite podcast host and their guests. It’s a good connection to make, even if we aren’t really part of the inner circle. Such is the magic of good podcasting.



Author Description

Eric McQuade is co-founder of The Timbre and a former-programmer-turned-writer. He has lived in D.C., Texas, North Carolina, Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, Argentina, Cayman Islands, and the length of the Appalachian Trail. Right now he hangs his hat in Memphis, TN.