I told you I was going to cry over this new MUNA song. I did not lie.
Now no more no lies! Aka news!
But first, here’s Jake with something to point out for all of you:
What happened to Stitcher
Hey everyone, I’m thrilled to share another Ashley Carman story with you – an article she spent months reporting and wrapping up just before she left.
The story is a deep dive into SiriusXM’s acquisition of Stitcher – how it happened, where it went wrong, and how it speaks to the broader podcasting landscape moving towards consolidation and scale.
Former Stitcher employees said SiriusXM didn’t have a podcast strategy when they were hired, that they felt the company didn’t empower them to act on their expertise and that they went head-to-head on basics like cross-promotion and… even mentioning the name “Spotify.” .” The shift in strategy has been particularly evident on comedy network Earwolf, where fans have noticed a trickle of departing shows and hosts in recent months. Many of the smaller titles that made Earwolf known as a vibrant space for comedy have since left the network, while the studio has prioritized titles with mainstream hit potential, like office ladies and Storytime with Seth Rogen.
More than a quarter of Stitcher’s employees at the time of the acquisition have since left, including its CEO, CTO and others from the C-suite, The edge found. As Ashley writes, “Combined with the x-factors of a pandemic, a new corporate environment, and increasing means for shows to succeed on their own without network support, the time was ripe for a calculation of the talent.”
There’s a lot more in the piece itself, including details of how some of this tension started before the acquisition. You can read the full story here.
Alright, back to Aria!
Radiolab’s strong commitment to accessibility
Earlier this month, I informed Insiders of a new radiolab episode – a story told by writer Elsa Sjunneson about the connection between her life and that of Helen Keller – which was produced in a way deafblind audiences could access in its entirety.
radiolab has now released an accompanying ASL video for the episode, and it has also released a specially formatted transcript for loading into digital Braille readers. I spoke to the team about how and why this happened.
Creating these resources happened in stages and involved many people inside and outside of WNYC, but once shared, the process becomes repeatable. To create a compatible transcription, for example, they hired an external braille coordinator, Sharon von See, to convert the copy into an official “braille-ready file” using a computer program. The ASL video, produced by WNYC social media producer Kim Nowacki, went through many other milestones, including two rounds of translation with outside performers April Jackson-Woodard and Eboni Gaytan.
Here is this process, as it was explained to me by radiolab sound designer Jeremy Bloom: he and Gaytan, who is not deaf, listened to the episode in 10-minute increments; while listening, Gaytan created a signed rendition of what she heard, transmitting it to Jackson-Woodard, who is deaf; Jackson-Woodard then reinterpreted what she received from Gaytan, and it’s Jackson-Woodard and her translation that you see in the final video.
As Bloom puts it, Jackson-Woodard “can interpret the work in a more linguistically and culturally fluid way than if we were to use an auditory interpreter alone.” A third interpreter, Annie Dieckman, was also present to translate between Jackson-Woodard and him since Bloom does not know ASL. The resulting video was then adjusted to synchronize the signature with the audio and convey the true essence of radiolabit was also equipped with specific written descriptions of the music and sound design, courtesy of artist Shannon Finnegan (whose descriptions can also be read in the transcript).
These components are a big improvement over the existing delivery of this show’s content, but this delivery was already pretty robust. Uploading visual counterparts to audio, for example, has been an active practice for the team, which has released both subtitled videos of episodes and more experimental content, such as a recording of a tape. (for an episode on the tapes) which shows you the reels spinning if you choose to watch it (but it’s fine to minimize to the background if you choose not to).
Drawing inspiration from existing creators is part of radiolabThe new take on , which I’m told is largely the result of feedback from the show’s audience; many fans rely on accessibility accommodations, and their experience of the show shouldn’t come at the expense of that. More recently, the team has worked directly with various people with disabilities as paid contributors and expert sources. Looking ahead, I’m told more ASL videos are on the way and transcripts will still be available – yes, although the wider audio industry hasn’t caught up yet.
“Last year, I saw Christine Sun Kim’s amazing Pop-Up Magazine video, and it helped me realize how much richer the sound descriptions in the transcripts could be,” says Lulu Miller, one of radiolab‘s co-hosts. In this video, Sun Kim reinvents the way captions can be read by writing them herself, combining literal descriptions of feet “slamming” against floor tiles with more abstract descriptions, like “the sound of a perfume of shampoo floating in the fog”.
“Since then,” Miller says, “we’ve all been hungry to find a way to step up our game in this area.”
EXCLUSIVE: PRX and Google’s New Training Program for Beginner Podcasters
Last called up in 2021, the Google Podcasts Creator Program is entering its third iteration, with some notable changes.
This international training, co-hosted by Google and PRX, has previously focused on new podcast producers, sometimes offering funding to 20 recipients at a time. This time around, only six small teams or individuals will be chosen for the program, which is focused on producers who are at least three years into their audio creation journey and who the program can help monetize and grow what they started. .
With that goal in mind, it means another big change for the program: the funding each could potentially receive has increased by more than 60% since the last time it was up for grabs. Stephanie Kuo, director of training at PRX, said an increase in funding was in response to feedback from program alumni.
“This year’s program is for those looking to take a current podcast and turn it from what could have been a passion project or side hustle into a business with earning potential, while continuing to hone their skills in creative development,” says Kuo. “In an effort to see more successful independent shows in the ecosystem, we want to help podcasts and podcasters evolve in this way.”
You can find submission and eligibility details on the program website, or tune in to the informational webinar that PRX is hosting today at 2 p.m. ET.
More Toys for Apple Podcasters
Today, Apple Podcasts announced new features for creators that offer subscription channels while teasing upcoming listening metrics for former regular podcasters.
Those who run premium channels can now customize banners from show to show to advertise different paid benefits. And starting in April, all podcaster listening metrics will begin to differentiate activity between subscribers and non-subscribers—those who choose to be notified about new episodes versus those who who don’t. With the latter, the goal is to help identify how many listeners are truly invested in a show (and might then be interested in becoming paying subscribers down the line).
Apple Podcasts Connect, the dashboard where podcasters can see all of these metrics, was revamped last spring; this spring, it seems to bloom again.
Twitter spaces increasing sharing (and asynchrony)
Some Apple users now have the ability to share audio clips from Twitter Spaces, a feature similar to what Clubhouse users gained last September. With the Clubhouse version, if clips are captured and posted quickly enough, they can entice people to join in on a conversation as it unfolds; Twitter, on the other hand, limits the mute feature to spaces that have already been saved, according to the official Twitter account “Twitter Spaces” (Why). In this way, this new feature attracts people who are less and less interested in live audio.
The edge has more details on the announcement, although I’m partial to this News9 article because there’s a typo that replaces “clip” with “clop”, and now I can’t stop thinking about the horses .
Anna Sorokin joins the podcast from prison
Last week, Anna Sorokin (the con artist and subject of the recent Netflix series Invent Anna which is currently owned by ICE) appeared as a guest on the podcast call her daddywhich I point out for two reasons, in addition to the fact that it is simply an absolutely unbalanced sentence.
First, it’s deliberately produced and marketed as a video episode, a testament to Spotify’s ongoing efforts to make video happen for its podcasts. The spectacle of having Sorokin teleported from a holding cell can’t exactly be ignored.
And secondly, this is now at least the second time that call her daddy produced soundbyte-friendly audio — last month, a quote from Julia Fox’s appearance on the show went viral on TikTok audio. I don’t have such high expectations for the potential of Sorokin’s appearance, mostly because the audio quality isn’t great, but host Alex Cooper at least had a good line. In response to his guest disagreeing with the idea that as a con artist she’s like a performer, Cooper chimes in, “You are. You are very confusing. The silence that follows grips me all. Single. time.
I hope everyone who visits Podcast Movement in person enjoys it! I’m on the east coast, and I’m freezing.