This week heralds yet more evidence that podcasting is becoming a serious mainstream medium. Podcasting has been bubbling under the surface for years (decades?) as a niche nerdy pursuit, but following Spotify's $230 million acquisition of Gimlet Media (a pioneering podcast studio who are responsible for quite a few shows that have featured in this newsletter) early last year, the stakes have felt a little bit higher. Then in May Spotify dropped $100 million to bring the execrable Joe Rogan podcast into their fold (arguably making him the highest paid broadcaster in the world).
But now it's not just Spotify who are flashing their cash in the world of podcasting. US digital radio station SiriusXM bought the Stitcher podcasting studio this week for $300 million. I don't think we've featured any Stitcher shows here before. My money was on "How did this get made?" being the first Stitcher show to be included here, but "Blowback" has beaten them to it (see below).
We're in a time where there's clearly more interest in podcasting from companies with deep pockets, and it cuts both ways. There's more funding and a bigger market for podcasters, but also the existential threat of platform lock-in (Spotify are big proponents of shows that only appear on their platform). As we've touched on before, is a podcast really a podcast if it doesn't have an RSS feed? Maybe... I'm still undecided.
Three great episodes to listen to this week:
- Their dark materials, 99 Percent Invisible (40mins, 2020-01-21)
- Following on from last weeks' appearance of Articles of Interest, this week I'm including a "proper" episode of 99PI. The "feud" between artists Anish Kapoor and Stuart Semple is both hilarious and nerdy. Vantablack is (or was?) the world's "blackest black", but the carbon nanotube technology was exclusively licensed by Kapoor, thus prompting an inevitable backlash. Hot drama with the lowest of stakes; I love it. Find it here.
- Rosebud, Blowback (58mins 2020-06-14)
- I don't know how to classify this show. Is it a "two guys casually talking nonsense to themselves" deal? Yes. Is it a tightly produced and well researched history show? Also yes. Curious tone aside, this show is a detailed look at the events that lead to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But it's also a little bit funny? As you can tell, I'm finding it all a bit confusing. But it's strangely compelling story telling, and I'll keep listening to the full series. Find it here.
- Jason Cohen - Learning to Hire and Manage a Team, Full Stack Radio (55mins 2020-07-01)
- FSR host Adam Wathan's 2-man business is doing okay. His book Refactoring UI has earned $2.2m since December 2018 (I own the book; it's great) and their "new" CSS UI library Tailwind has earned $1.8m since February this year. Now they're thinking about hiring someone, and Jason Cohen (the founder of massive hosting company WP Engine) is on hand to give him some much needed advice. Find it here
Not a podcast, but...
Sometimes I want a deep dive into a densely technical topic, and other times all I want to do is watch ten years' worth of footage of the Sun spinning around. Thanks to NASA, I can do that now. Watch it here.
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Thanks again, Tom.
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