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Podcast Survivor

Podcasting News: SmartBinge, iOS 8 & Earwolf CEO Change

In this week’s podcasting news: Apple bundles Podcasts app into iOS 8; New York Public Radio launches an ad campaign to promote binging on its podcasts; Earwolf CEO Jeff Ullrich announces that he is stepping aside.

Apple Bundles Podcasts in iOS 8

The second beta of Apple’s iOS 8 is out to developers, and one of the surprises is that the company’s Podcasts app has become bundled with the OS. At the moment the free Podcasts app is one you have to download and install on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. While having it included in the next version OS is a relatively small change, this does put podcasts in front of many more people who might never have otherwise installed that or another podcast listening app.

Maybe Apple will make it a better app, too.

WNYC Encourages Listners to “SmartBinge”

Last month I reported on New York Public Radio’s WNYC expanding its podcast roster with three new shows. Now the public broadcaster has launched a new promotional campaign it calls “SmartBinge,” urging audiences to “engage immersively” in “extended listening to addictively thought-provoking and entertaining shows from WNYC.”

The station’s vice president of integrated marketing Noreen O’Laughlin told the New York Times that many podcast listeners weren’t aware that WNYC is responsible for popular shows like Radiolab and Freakonomics Radio. So, she says that “One of the goals of this campaign is to really align the relationship between WNYC as the producer[.]”

The campaign also promotes the station’s new smartphone app, funded by a $10 million grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation.

Very few producers–whether they’re independents or larger companies–publicize their podcasts outside of their own websites and podcasts. So, the fact that WNYC is spending $200,000 on this campaign is noteworthy in itself. It would be great if this brings more attention to podcasting, in general.

Earwolf CEO Jeff Ullrich Steps Aside, Succeeded by COO Adam Sachs

When I announced that I began working for Earwolf parent Midroll Media I also promised that this weekly feature wouldn’t cover these companies more than any other. However, this week there was a big announcement that is worthy of note. Earwolf and Midroll Media founding CEO Jeff Ullrich is stepping aside from his position to become the company’s Chairman. Succeeding him is COO Adam Sachs.

Jeff explains that the transition is a result of the company having grown so quickly that it’s “at a stage where founder’s intuition isn’t enough to realize our ambitions.” Midroll Media will also be filling new positions for a creative director and a head of business development. As Jeff puts it, “I am going to be replaced by three people who will all be better at their jobs than I was. How exciting is that?”

Within the podcasting community Jeff is known for his candor, and so he posted his own longer announcement in the Earwolf listener forums. He assures everyone that, “None of the important stuff is changing and the rest is only going to get better.” He continues,

“What will change for the better? We have set a budget that is 50% higher for the next 12 months than it had been for the previous 12. We are really investing heavily back into the business. More staff, new shows, new technology, new projects of all kinds. I wish I could say more! The bottom line: we are trying even harder to make things great.”

Speaking honestly, I can say that it’s been a privilege working for Jeff these last 4 months. While I’m sad that I’ll be working with him less as he moves into his new role, I am very confident in Adam, our new CEO, and excited for new projects.

I’m also sanguine about what this means for podcasting in general. This comes at the same time that organizations like Slate, WNYC, Public Radio Exchange, PodcastOne and Public Radio International are all increasing their investments in podcasting. These are not loss-leader efforts. They are all efforts to bring new, often innovative programming to audiences outside of the constraints of broadcast. And they all intend to succeed.

Half way in, 2014 is shaping up to be a very good year for podcasting.


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