Weekly Roundup: big moves in podcastland, International Podcast Day special, the golden age of audio and more

Hey Podheads, what a week this was. Big moves were made. Questions were asked and most of them remained unanswered.

What a week!

September 12, 2018: Nick Quah broke the news that podcast network Panoply is getting out of the original content business to focus on its ad tech business. Panoply Media is the sister company of Slate Media. This was surprising given the fact that the company had announced its fall line up at Podcast Upfront a week earlier.

With the exit, the company is letting go of its entire editorial staff. 

Several sources in the company inform me that, earlier this afternoon, the company internally announced that it will no longer be developing new podcasts and that it will be letting go of its entire editorial staff. I’m told that the layoffs are effective starting the end of the month. – Neiman Lab

This Adexchanger article gives a really good perspective the ad tech focus on Panoply

“We love [the content] business. However, it’s limited in how much it can scale top line revenue,” said Brendan Monaghan, CEO at Panoply Media. “Technology has a real opportunity to scale significantly, both on the content management and ad insertion side, as well as the ad technology side.”

September 12, 2018: Soon on the heels of Panoply news, Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate Group announced that he was leaving Slate to launch a new audio company with Malcolm Gladwell. How’s that for a double whammy?  

This ends Jacob’s 2-decade stint with the Slate Group. He also announced on Twitter that he would no longer be co-hosting the Trumpcast. That sucks!

Jacob Weisberg will longer co-host Trumpcast

September 13, 2018: iHeartMedia, the largest radio broadcaster in the US announced that it was acquiring Stuff Media, LLC in a deal worth $55 million. HowStuffWorks publishes and distributes hit shows such as Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, Atlanta Monster and Cabinet of Curiosities. About a year ago, HowStuffWorks was spun out as an Independent company and had raised $15 million from The Raine Group.

Just to add a bit of a context here,  iHeart had filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. The company is dealing with a crushing debt load of $20 billion.

The size of the deal makes it one of the largest ever deals in the podcasting space.

The deal is among the largest in the emerging podcasting business. In 2015, E.W. Scripps said it was acquiring Midroll, the podcast-advertising company, for $50 million with an additional $10 million earn-out. In January, Liberated Syndication Inc. purchased the internet-hosting company Pair Networks for $16 million in cash and stock. In May, Pandora acquired AdsWizz, a company that provides ad technology for podcasts and music platforms, for about $145 million. Ben Mullin, WSJ

All these deals and developments, in my view, speak to the potential the medium of podcasting holds. When the giants‘ rumble, you know that there’s something cooking.

How’s that for an action-packed week!

Getting its act right

Turner Media part of the Time Warner group which owns some of the biggest media properties such as CNN, Cartoon network, Bleacher Report and Adult Swim is getting its podcasting act together. Under the leadership of Tyler Moody, the company is consolidating its podcasting efforts across media properties. Last week it announced that the company’s 50+ podcasts were available on Spotify. We had written a bit about Spotify’s podcasting efforts in an earlier edition.

Speaking to Adexchanger, he said:

“Over the years, attention to podcasting ebbed and flowed,” he said. “No division at Turner was ready to have a slate of podcasts, but if we did it all together, we’d have scale and an opportunity to be part of the space.”

Also, read this conversation he had with Forbes.

The Daily News Wars

If daily news podcasts such as The Daily by NYT and Today, Explained by Vox Media or NPR’s Up First have become an integral part of your listening routine then you will soon have to confront a new dilemma. The Guardian announced that political editor Anushka Asthana will be the host of its new daily news and current affairs podcast. The new show is set to air by the end of this year.

To put this in context, The Daily, hosted by Michael Barbaro has been a massive success for The New York Times. The show has gone on to ink deals with TV Networks FX and Hulu to create a weekly version of the podcast. The podcast is also being syndicated on radio.

For more context, I highly recommend reading this Vanity Fair feature of the The Daily.  

The Guardian has been in the podcasting game for a while. It has a slate of 10 shows across a variety of topics.

Fresh Stitches

There was a bit of a shakeup at Midroll Media which is owned by E.W. Scripps. Post this restructuring, podcast advertising company Midroll Media and comedy network Earlwolf will operate under the brand of Stitcher.

CEO Erik Diehn had this to say in a press release:

“The changes reflect the transformation that has been underway for some time at the company to attract new advertisers, listeners and top creative talent”
“Our combined brands and companies – Midroll, Earwolf and Stitcher – were all individually early pioneers and leaders in podcasting,”  “Earwolf was one of the first podcast networks; Midroll helped create and grow the podcast ad sales marketplace; and Stitcher was one of the first true podcast apps. Each of these has evolved and thrived individually, and today we mark the beginning of those pieces coming together to form the world’s strongest end-to-end podcast company.

A golden age of audio

Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia and Jarl Mohn, CEO of NPR talk to Adweek about the state of podcasting.

Email is the best

Juergen Berkessel, Editor of Podcasting Strategy, Launch and Marketing and in this post talks about a high converting design strategy for podcast websites. He explains why you should encourage listeners to signup to your mailing list rather than getting them to subscribe to your show on iTunes. Why you ask?

“The holy grail of podcasting is to get iTunes Subscribers, right? And to get into the “New and Noteworthy” charts, right? And so podcast website design should focus on getting visitors to your site to subscribe on iTunes, right?

Wrong, in my opinion. The iTunes podcast ranking algorithm as well as the “New and Noteworthy” charts are seriously broken at the time of this writing. The top 200 podcasts are being gamed and exploited, and are full of entries who are paying thousands of dollars to overseas click farms for instant presence in the top charts.”

We have been big proponents of email newsletters. In the previous editions, we had explained why podcasters should leverage email newsletters to build engaging audiences.

From the horse’s mouth

Amit Doshi is the founder of IVM Podcasts – India’s premier podcast network and the home of some of my favourite podcasts. On this episode of Shunya One, he talks about his journey, state of podcasting in India and also offers 3 pieces of advice to a listener who is quitting his job to launch his own podcasting company (47-minute mark). Go listen.


Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success. – Napoleon Hill

Being patient is one of the hardest things in life. Last week when I was scrolling through my twitter feed, I came across a gem of a post by Nick Maggiulli. For those of you who don’t know, Nick runs the popular data-driven personal finance blog Of Dollars And Data.

This post titled “Nothing Into Something” is about the virtues of having a long time horizon in things we do. As I was reading this post, it reminded me of the time and efforts that go into to building a successful podcast.

Some of the oldest podcasts out there today were not overnight successes. Take any podcast that’s been around for more than 5+ years and if you look closely you’ll see that these podcasters stuck around patiently, persevering until things started turning around for them 

In this post, Nick tells the story of Sam Zemurray, who started with absolutely nothing but went on to become one of the richest people in America and the head of one of the largest fruit exporters.

How? Sam Zemurray, an 18-year kid with no money wanted to enter the Banana trade. But the problem was he had no money or connections, so growing bananas was out of the question. That was until he saw what was happening with ripe bananas. During the late 1800’s, ripe bananas were always sold at a large discount because they could never be transported in time to the intended markets. While everyone wanted to get rid of the ripes, Sam saw an opportunity.

With only $150 he bought as many ripes as he could and travelled north by rail to sell them.  After all was said and done he made $190, a $40 profit over 6 days in 1895. Sam was in business.  The Fish That Ate The Whale by Rich Cohen tells of Sam’s continued success: In 1899, he sold 20,000 bananas.  In 1903, he sold 574,000. Within a decade, he would be selling more than a million bananas a year.

Sam eventually became one of the richest men in America and the head of United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands International).  All of this started because he found an ignored part of the trade and capitalized on it.  He took the trash of the industry and made it into an empire. He turned nothing into something.

So, the lesson here apart from having a long-term horizon is to have a nose for opportunities. Sam saw an opportunity where no one did and took advantage. As a podcaster, it’s not just creating a show and publishing it. You need to look for niches which remain untapped. Given that podcasting is still in the early stages of its evolution, the possibilities for you are endless.

I highly recommend reading the full post.

Voices from India

Big news coming out of Whickers Radio and Audio Funding awards – RAFA 2018. We had reported in our previous issue about Shandy and Sunny, the duo behind Biker Radio Rodcast, making it to the list of finalists who would be pitching for the prestigious award.

It is with great pride and joy, we share the news that the Biker Radio Rodcast finished second at the event. Their pitch was for a radio documentary that would follow several hardcore biking enthusiasts as they take part in one of the most gruelling motorcycling rallies in the world – the Raid de Himalaya.

The duo has received several accolades for the brilliant concept and the great work they are doing documenting motorcycling legends on their podcast. Way to go Shandy and Sunny! 

NDTV in this piece covered the news. 


International Podcast Day is around the corner and Indian podcasters are leaving no stone unturned to spread the word and awareness. Meetups and networking events have been planned on the eve of the International Podcast day in Bangalore, Chennai, and Delhi. 

If you are a podcaster and are looking to network with fellow creators, these meetups are a great opportunity to catch up and talk about life as a podcaster. If you want to host a meetup in your city, write to us at hello@podhead.co and we’ll see how we can help out.

Speaker alert!

Aman Gokhlani – Head of Operations, Audioboom India will be speaking at the Digipubworld, India’s first event focused on online publishers alongside several other renowned speakers. 

Anniversary episode!

Design Lota, a podcast about life as designers in India – hosted by Angy (Angeline Bhavya) and Sushy (Sushmita Charlu) celebrates its first anniversary. In the anniversary episode, they talk about the backstory of Design Lota, how a random shower thought led to one of the finer design podcasts from India, their favourite episodes and drop some interesting tidbits. 

New launches

Glimpses of the future

In this show host, Shashank Bhargava talks to experts in different fields about their understanding of what the future holds for us and what we should and shouldn’t do to get there. One of the very few shows that focusses on the some of the most important issues that India faces today.  

We heard the first couple of episodes and we highly recommend listening to them. 

Doors and Devices

Another podcast about all things Design – from Digital to Physical, brought to you by the host, Adit Gupta. The podcast discusses concepts in UX and industrial design. The podcast also looks at trends, case studies and real-life examples to give the listener a well-rounded view of the world of design. 

Breaking it down

A conversational podcast brought to you by Rabhinder, Breaking It Down looks at the life story of a guest, one episode at a time.

IVM is hiring

IVM Podcasts, India’s largest podcast network is looking to hire a Head of Product to join the team in Mumbai and help with building out the tech platform. The network is also looking to hire a producer, social media intern and a graphic designer. If you are interested, you can reach out to Amit Doshi, the founder at amit@ivmpodcasts.com. 

Podcasts & Podcasters

We’ll be celebrating the International Podcast Day in India by talking to some really cool creators. In the run-up to Septemeber 30th, we’ll be talking to creators about life as a podcaster and publish a special series of conversations with podcasters. 

This week, we spoke to Nikesh Murali, the creator of Indian Noir and Slow Burn. Here’s the full conversation:

Weekly Recommendations

Thanks for reading and do give us a shout out if you enjoyed this edition of the roundup. 

Posted by Bhuvanesh

A podcast junkie on a mission to make podcasts great.

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