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Inside Podcasting

Inside Podcasting (Jan 16th, 2020)

1. iHeartMedia has launched a massive restructuring with many hundreds of radio operators, DJs, and hosts being laid off this week. According to a story in Rolling Stone, the news was announced in a memo distributed to employees Tuesday morning. "The memo...seemed plucked partly from a corporate culture parody like Office Space. It opened with chest-puffing ('we are the #1 audio company in America') and then slathered on numbing layers of business jargon (new institutions include 'the Integrated Revenue Strategies Group' and 'Excellence Centers')." The majority of cuts are being made in small-to-midsize markets, which will now be served by syndicated programming "beamed in from afar" — a practice made possible by new legislation in 2017. — ROLLING STONE

2. Last April, I wrote that retired cold case investigator Paul Holes and journalist Billy Jensen, the hosts of Exactly Right's Murder Squad, would "attempt to solve cases each week, with the help of advanced technology and tips from listeners." I was skeptical that this crowdsourcing tactic would lead to anything, much less an arrest — but life is stranger than fiction. Evidently, the DNA of a listener identified as "Jessi" has led to the arrest of James Clanton in association with the 1980 murder/kidnapping of Helene Pruszynski. Here's how it went down: in response to a call-to-action from Jensen and Holes, Jessi uploaded her DNA to GEDmatch — the same open-source database that helped solve the Golden Gate Killer case in 2018. Jessi's DNA matched up with Clanton, a possible suspect in the case with a documented history of rape and assault. That connection allowed authorities to make an arrest and — bada bing, bada boom — a court date is set for February. “[Jessi] is exactly why we started this podcast,” says Jensen in an interview with Oxygen. Listen to Jessi discuss why she was moved to spit into a vial on the show's latest episode. — ROLLING STONE 

3. Throwback Thursday: on this day last year, I made mention of a podcast I had recently discovered: The Cut on Tuesdays. As you may already know, the podcast recently came to an end, but not before issuing a compelling closing episode. Titled "The Ghost of Emails Past," it featured uniquely candid stories inspired by old, unearthed email messages. The episode was a fitting way to mark the ending of a beloved series, while celebrating new horizons. Give it a whirl. [Pictured: host Molly Fischer.]

4. There really is a podcast for EVERYONE now — including your dog. My Dog's Favourite Podcast is a "beautiful audio experience," in which five-hour episodes keep your pooch company while you work or run errands (or whatever). University of York psychologist, Alex Benjamin consulted on the series, which is designed "to calm and reassure your dog."  In related news, yesterday Spotify announced that it's released a nifty tool for pet owners to design playlists perfect for a "dog, cat, iguana, hamster, or bird." As a result, our family pup Max will soon be listening to Lil' Dicky, Dean Lewis, Blanco Brown, Lewis Capaldi, and Maroon 5. — MINSTERFM and CNN

5. Yesterday the folks behind Underunderstood shared the news that they had been included on HuffPost's "Best Podcasts of 2019" list — with a major caveat. "Now their 'authorized content management agent' wants us to pay $1,995 to 'use the HuffPost Best Podcasts of 2019 logo and accolade' on our website," reads a tweet posted by the show's handle. This is what's known as a quid pro quo — no? It's probably worth considering the possibility that the whole thing could be a scam perpetrated by an entity unrelated to the publication. Regardless, wherever the debacle leads, it goes without saying that Underunderstood should turn the experience into a podcast.

UPDATE: HuffPost's Editor-in-Chief Lydia Polgreen has responded to Underunderstood's tweet: "Hello! Obviously we are big fans of your podcast at HuffPost. That’s [we] why chose you as one of our faVeis [sic] in 2019! We were unaware this kind of outreach was happening; we have addressed the issue with our third-party licensing agent, and apologize for the miscommunication."


6. Yesterday, I ran a Twitter poll asking whether podcast fans prefer that hosts address them in the singular (as in "listener") or plural (as in "listeners"). While plural has been in the lead from the start (with an approximate 70% share of 287 votes), those in the minority make interesting points:

  • Referring to your audience in the singular is radio industry standard ("10+ years in radio and every program director I've ever had has said to use listener....singular is objectively the right thing to say," said one respondent);
  • Posing the question on Twitter, a "social media platform," could have skewed the respondents' demo toward extroverts who prefer being part of a pack;
  • The results could have been influenced by the fact that I asked "listeners" to respond to the poll.

Others said they didn't care either way and/or pointed out that there are many ways to refer to your audience that avoid this debate entirely. What do you think? Write back and chime in with your thoughts.

7. Accession, a show that blends its creator's love of art with road-tripping, and elements of audio fiction (and was nominated for "best new art podcast" by Discover Pods this year) launches its second season today. "We've got so many incredible pieces of art to see, museums to visit, people to meet, and stories to hear on this, the second season of Accession, which we're calling Homeward," reads a show description. Get into it!

8. An 18-year-old political junkie whose newsletter Wake Up To Politics broke major presidential news, published interviews with heavy-hitters like Nancy Pelosi, and counted folks like MSNBC anchor Steve Kornacki and the founder of Politico as subscribers, is about to launch a podcast of the same name. Gabe Fleisher, who began his political journalism career in the third grade ("for just one subscriber — my Mom"), says the show promises to "deconstruct the mechanics undergirding American politics, providing a foundation for listeners to better understand complicated issues like gerrymandering, right in time for the Iowa caucuses." Fleisher will be producing the show in partnership with St. Louis Public Radio.

9. If you missed the PRX AMA on Podcasting 101 yesterday, don't fret: the replay is right hereDuring the 30-minute YouTube session, Today Explained's Sean Rameswaram and PRX's Director of Training Kerry Donahue answered questions about storyboarding, mentorship, episode frequency, and more.

10. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah has released The Daily Show Podcast Universe, a five-part podcast series parodying a number of popular podcasts including This American Life and Slow Burn (blessedly absent: a true crime spoof).  "We have synth music, dramatic podcasts, and ads for startups that will be bankrupt in four months," says Noah in the trailer. 

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.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, staff writer 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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