Buzz: Podcast News September 24-30

Each week in Buzz, we’ll give you a roundup of our favorite podcast reads from around the internet.

September 28, 2015: Phil Edwards from Vox, Why podcasts have such terrible ads

The only way around the mighty algorithm are guest spots, cross-promotion, and an internal network with the muscle to help break a show out of obscurity.

Podcast advertising is certainly a thing that every tech site, podcast host, fan, media conglomerate, and network must chime in on these days. Much of it has to do with business, but there’s also a palpable dislike for the ads themselves. The ads are so similar, they run together, and are beginning to make some people insane. (Remember when we wrote about the spoofs from Steven Colbert?). A sponsored segment is just one aspect of the solicitation from podcast host to listener, however. Other calls to action exist, too. There are requests for subscriptions and iTunes reviews. Edwards breaks down the reasoning for these pleas—to entice the all-powerful iTunes algorithm, of course!—and in so doing explains much about the current state of podcasting. Considering the whole ad-blocking brouhaha, which is forecasted to positively affect podcasts since ad-blocking can’t infiltrate digital audio, and the massive growth of digital listeners, The Timbre predicts a big transformation for podcast advertising.

September 29, 2015: Sarah Buhr from from TechCrunch, Product Hunt Adds Podcast Discovery to its Fleet of Channels

‘By making each episode sharable and discoverable, Product Hunt Podcasts mirrors current events and today’s conversation in audio form,’ Hoover said.

Product Hunt, a site with various channels for specific products—often video games, apps, tech—has added podcasts broken down by episode as one of its categories for channels. The company recognized that podcast enthusiasts have few places for an ongoing conversation about the shows they love and that episode-by-episode made the most sense. Don’t get too excited though. Right now, the top threads have only a couple comments each, but we see definite potential.

September 30, 2015: Joe Satran from Huffington Post, ‘Serial,’ The Podcast Obsession Of 2014, To Become A TV Show”

Phil Lord and Christopher Miller — the writing-and-directing duo behind comedic hits like “The Lego Movie” and “21 Jump Street” — are adapting “Serial” into a scripted TV series. Several of the podcast’s producers, including Season 1 host Sarah Koenig, “This American Life” host Ira Glass and “Serial” co-producer Julie Snyder, will be executive producers on the show.

I can hardly muster the energy to type about this. What’s next? Serial lunchboxes? Serial action figures? Serial-flavored Doritos? Listen, it’s not that I don’t like Serial. I do. It’s an incredible podcast. And it could even be an incredible TV show. Who knows? What’s frustrating is our culture’s propensity to squeeze and suck the life out of anything that hits the “mainstream” by trying to cross-brand it over multiple platforms. It’s endemic of some sense of entitlement, some belief that there is more to be had from art than the art itself. I can’t even blame Koenig & Friends for taking the cash, because, hey, capitalism. But I can blame our culture’s endless, insatiable desire to scratch and claw at everything we enjoy until all that’s left is a feeling of fatigue and the vague memory that, once upon a time, there was something here we used to love.

September 26, 2015: Adam Ragusea from Current, “WNYC Podcast Accelerator contest winners will make pilots with WNYC

The would-be producers of The City and Gaydio, the winners of WNYC’s Podcast Accelerator contest, will now have the opportunity to pilot their podcasts for the major public radio station and premier podcasting house.

If you nerd out on the machinations of producing podcasts (because, who doesn’t?), this is fun news. Over the summer, WNYC ran its own form a reality show, inviting outside pitches for podcasts, and eventually whittling down the field of 370 applicants to just five who were given a few minutes to stand on stage and pitch their idea to an audience and panel of judges. Though the plan was to choose one winner, two emerged and their shows were green-lighted for pilots: The City, a show billed as “If The Wire or Treme were a podcast and all the stories were true;” and Gaydio, a biweekly show on LGBTQ issues. The only question left to figure out is if each winner will get the $10,000 prize or if they’re expected to split it…

September 24, 2015: Jefferson Graham from USA Today, Norm Pattiz’s podcasting bet paying off”

USA TODAY: What made you want to get into podcasting as a business?

PATTIZ: I saw it as the digital version of Westwood One without the constraints of syndication. I wouldn’t have to get drunk with program directors to convince them to run my shows.

Norm Pattiz used to run Westwood One, which became one of the biggest radio networks in America, if not the biggest. After cashing out from radio, he started PodcastOne in 2013. And now he’s making a lot of money in podcasting. There’s not much to suss out here other than Pattiz knows an opportunity when he sees one. He noticed what little attention radio was paying to digital, launched PodcastOne, and snagged a bunch of big names for his startup. The talent on PodcastOne is all over the map: Shaquille O’Neil, Bret Easton Ellis, Snooki, Adam Carolla, and dozens of others. Yet there’s a cold logic behind it all: money. Pattiz pitched super duper agent, Ari Emanuel (brother of Rahm Emanuel and the inspiration for Entourage’s own Ari), on the idea of collecting big names for shows on PodcastOne. Two years later, Pattiz has a wildly successful company and he’s backing the Brinx truck up to his house. Again.

September 25, 2015: Ryan Butcher from Gay Times Magazine, “Welcome to Night Vale’s Cecil Baldwin: ‘Young people use Night Vale to begin the conversation about their own sexuality’”

…I wrote a short monologue about my struggles where I offer to record an audience member’s outgoing voice mail message in order to build up good karma. Joseph saw me perform it and said he had this pilot script for a weird, funny, scary, beautiful podcast – and asked if I wanted to record it for him. So he loaned me a microphone, gave me a script and off we went!

If you’re a fan of Welcome to Night Vale, definitely check out this interview with Cecil Baldwin in Gay Times. There’s some great backstory on how Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor worked with him to create the podcast. No matter how great the quality of writing is on a given episode of Night Vale, Baldwin transcends the material with his role as community radio host, Cecil Palmer. There’s some other wonderful characters to be sure, but it’s Cecil that keeps us coming back for more. For a town ridden with chaos, Night Vale can still claim the steadiest, dulcet-toned hero in all of America. It’s nice to meet the real man behind those beautiful pipes.

New Podcasts in the News

September 29, 2015: The Associated Press, “Voiceover virtuoso pipes up with podcast”

Billy West is the ish. You might have heard him on Doug, Ren & Stimpy, or even as the voice of Bugs Bunny or Popeye. Now he’s bringing that famous voice to a podcast and playing the part of himself. The series will feature sketches, mock interviews, and other freewheeling silliness.

October 1, 2015: Richard Deitsch from Sports Illustrated, Bill Simmons criticizes ESPN, Mike and Mike as new podcast launches”

Bill Simmon’s new podcast, The Bill Simmons Podcastdebuted at number one on iTunes. Despite all the scandalous headlines about him “trashing” his former employer, ESPN, on the podcast he’s nostalgic for his time at Grantland and has some fairly straightforward answers for why he was a disgruntled employee before joining HBO. If saying that ESPN is “in the bag for the NFL” is somehow shocking to sports reporters, perhaps they should find a new beat. What’s the next headline for these fossils, who were apparently unearthed to cover sports in 2015? Did the NFL know about concussions? Is there a problem with domestic violence in football?


September 29, 2015: Transom, “Story Workshop Spring 2016: Apply”

Applications for the Spring 2016 Transom Story Workshop are now available.


The Timbre is all growns up!


Author Description

The Timbre brings thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis to podcasts and the larger culture of podcasting.