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Inside Podcasting

Inside Podcasting (Nov 14th, 2019)

Dear Readers, 

Only eight items today because a few are oversized. As always, write back with questions, comments or criticisms anytime.

Skye

1. As regular readers know, a Twitter rant of mine regarding iHeart's incorrect claim to be the first to release original music in a podcast prompted the author of a People Magazine story to rewrite her headline and parts of her article. Yesterday, I spoke with an iHeart executive who mostly pointed fingers at its own creators for making the mistake. The executive declined to be named and recorded, but agreed to let me share notes from the call with you:

iHeart: We always want to make sure that what we’re saying is accurate. But oftentimes we look to the creators to make sure that what we’re saying is true.

Skye: I can understand you have lots of creators; you can't always control what they say. But when a creator makes a sweeping statement like "we're the first to do this innovative thing," shouldn't that be bumped up to PR for fact-checking?

iHeart: We are working very hard to make sure things like this don’t fall through the cracks. But there is so much out there. It’s never our intention to belittle people. When we talked to the team behind the podcast, they said that they said it differently to the reporter. 

Skye: The reporter says she was told it was first.

iHeart: The team here says that they're saying it differently. They say it's different because it's the first time an established musician like [Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd] has done something like this. 

Skye: So they're saying that it counts more because Poo Bear is a more established musician? 

iHeart: I guess it's a matter of semantics? Going forward, they're telling me that anything they say will reflect what’s accurate. 

Skye: Can they just agree to just stop saying that they're first? A great headline would still be: "hey we're doing this really cool thing with Poo Bear and it features original music." Why does being "first" matter so much to them?

iHeart: I see where you’re coming from. It needs to reflect what’s out there. And I definitely I agree with you on that. 

Skye: These kinds of out-of-touch statements increase the perception that iHeart is not of the podcast community.

iHeart: We want to be part of this community! We want to be of the community.

Friends, I just don't buy that there isn't a public relations approval process at iHeart, do you? Regardless, I'm cautiously optimistic that, at least in this case, iHeart will stop spreading misinformation. We'll see.

2. The iHeart awards were announced this week. A few thoughts: 

  • For some unfathomable reason, The Cut on Tuesdays is listed within the Beauty and Fashion category. Recent episodes of this podcast cover things like quitting your job, discovering your siblings via sperm donation, and the risks of sexual assault when using ride-hailing apps. The iHeart executive I spoke with yesterday says she'll "look into it."
  • Crime Junkies, a show credibly accused of plagiarism, is nominated for best true crime podcast.
  • Kevin Goldberg at Discover Pods points out that iHeart has managed to "[shoehorn] their shows into nearly every category of their OWN podcast awards." Kevin broke down the nominations by network for all of us to see:
    • 18 iHeart 
    • 15 NPR
    • 7 Gimlet, Earwolf
    • 5 Wondery, Ringer, APM
    • 4 NYT, Pushkin
    • 3 Radiotopia, Team Coco, Crooked Media, WNYC
    • 2 Barstool Sports, Headgum

The executive I spoke with at iHeart says that the company "[has] a panel that makes these decisions, and it's not just iHeart people." She sent me the list of companies and organizations that participate:

  • Stitcher
  • Podcast Movement
  • Adswizz
  • Slate
  • Wondery
  • Podnews
  • ESPN
  • IAB
  • Megaphone
  • Luminary 
  • WME
  • UTA
  • Podcast One
  • PocketCasts
  • AdResults
  • Spreaker
  • Endeavor
  • Radio Public
  • NPR
  • Veritone
  • As well as independent podcasters / hosts

I'm surprised that this group would collectively approve a list that blatantly favors iHeart's shows over others, includes a podcast mired in a plagiarism scandal, and places well-known shows in the wrong category. If you work at one of these companies, and can share how the process works, please get in touch with me. My Twitter DMs are open and you can also email me

3. On the latest episode of Satellite Sisters, co-host Lian Dolan reveals that she was diagnosed with colon cancer in August. She's quick to reassure listeners that, thanks to a friend who urged her to schedule her colonoscopy (she was four years late), the cancer was caught early and removed surgically and she is now "cancer-free." Regardless of the outcome, the experience was harrowing, and Dolan lays it all out, from what it was like when a doctor she barely knows said "you have cancer," to a recovery in which she couldn't really eat. Despite the grim subject matter, Lian and her co-host siblings infuse the story with heart, humor and the kind of realness you don't often come across when the subject is the big C. The episode also serves as a sort-of survival guide, should listeners need it. Dolan recommends podcasts to listen to while sick (Terrible, Thanks for Asking, Everything Happens), a meditation app, helpful cookbooks, and a post-op TV diet. And importantly, Dolan urges listeners to get their colonoscopies on time. "If you have sisters or friends who are reluctant to get a colonoscopy, make sure they listen to the podcast. Bombard them with texts that feature a half dozen poop emojis and the words, ‘Have You Made Your Appointment Yet?' Or call your Satellite Sister and say, 'Get your act together. Get a colonoscopy.'" — SATELLITE SISTERS

4. "We could...fill five shows a week with everything there is to know, explain and analyze about the impeachment process. But we're not prepared to do that, not at this point, anyway." That's Michael Barbaro explaining why The Daily isn't jumping into the crowded impeachment pod space, in the Nov. 1 issue of the podcast's weekly newsletter. Boy, what a difference 12 days makes! Yesterday I woke up to a story in The Hollywood Reporter announcing that the team behind The Daily was launching a podcast dedicated to the impeachment inquiry titled The LatestSaid executive producer Theo Balcomb, "We realized it would make a lot of sense to have a special show devoted solely to documenting this moment." All that said, episodes of The Latest will be short — between five-ten minutes each — so maybe the new show won't offer everything there is to know. But it's a start. — THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

5. On Monday Gizmodo reported that Rev, a transcription platform popular with podcasters and journalists, had issued dramatic pay cuts with minimal notice to its employees. Since the story appeared, Rev posted a detailed response, which claims that Rev is "committed to providing fulfilling work from home jobs." Gizmodo has now published a point-by-point rebuttal, penned by an employee who wrote anonymously because he or she "fear[s] reprisals from the company I am a transcriptionist for. I have already been subjected to arbitrary silencing on our internal forum for speaking my mind, although I did not violate forum guidelines." Now might be a good time to check on who you work with for transcriptions. — H/T Elena Fernández Collins

6. Yesterday Gimlet launched the first episode of Motherhacker, a fiction pod about a desperate single mom who "journeys through the dark web." In addition to an all-star cast (Carrie Coon, Pedro Pascal, Alan Cummins, Rupert Friend) the show features Reply All co-host Alex Goldman. Motherhacker rounds out Gimlet's fall fiction slate which also includes The Horror of Dolores Roach (launched in October) and the next season of The Two Princes (arrives in December). — DEADLINE

7. Acast, which announced that it would begin producing original content last month, has launched its first series. The show, titled The Score: Bank Robber Diaries, tells the story of convicted criminal Joe Loya, who became a successful writer and TV consultant after spending seven years in the slammer. “I’ve wanted to bring Joe’s engrossing and jaw-dropping story to listeners for a long time — from his troubled childhood, to his crazy heists, to his powerful ability to transform and forgive," said producer Ben Adair.  — B&T

8. In an interview with Elle Magazine, podcast host Laura Beil says she sometimes receives conflicting criticism regarding her voice. "My favorite bit of feedback was from a listener who said they preferred the host of Dr. Death to Bad Batch," says Beil, who hosts both shows. So what's next? "I don't want to do another bad doctor story, I want to do something completely different." — ELLE MAGAZINE

This newsletter was written and curated by podcast junkie and recovered publicist, Skye Pillsbury. Over the years, Skye has crafted digital media strategies for brands like Yahoo! and Microsoft and worked regularly with media outlets such as the New York Times, Rolling Stone and NPR. Skye was famous for 49 minutes when she and her son were featured in an episode of Gimlet Media’s Heavyweight podcast. Follow her on Twitter @SkyePillsbury.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

We're at work on Season 2 of the Inside Podcasting podcast and hope to have more to share soon. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first season which included interviews with:

Ian Chillag, the creator of Everything is Alive 

Jessi Hempel, who hosts Linked In’s podcast Hello Monday

Martine Powers, who hosts Post Reports from the Washington Post 

Leon Neyfakh, the co-creator of Slow Burn, who is now the host of Fiasco 

Madeleine Baran, the investigative reporter behind In the Dark

and Inside CEO Jason Calacanis, who hosts This Week in Startups

You can find the show wherever you get your podcasts. Let us know what you think!

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