Southern California Public Radio Secures Grant from Corporation for Public Broadcasting



The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has awarded Southern California Public Radio (SCRP) a two-year grant of $500,000 to advance the growth of LAist Studios, SCPR’s podcast development and production division, and its mission of addressing the content needs of young and underserved audiences.

With Latino audiences making up nearly half of the Southern California region, the funding will support staffing and help LAist Studios empower up-and-coming content creators by giving them the tools to develop shows and engage diverse young audiences.

“Since day one, our mission has been to create innovation on-demand audio that is representative of our amazing city. We are grateful for CPB’s support and excited to build on our momentum” said Kristen Muller, Chief Content Officer of SCPR.

“Southern California Public Radio has a proven track record of producing engaging, on-demand programming,” said Kathy Merritt, CPB Senior Vice President, Radio, Journalism and CSG Services. “CPB is pleased to support their efforts to build on that record to reflect the rich cultural landscape of Los Angeles and engage with audiences seeking connection, information, and entertainment.

LAist Studios is committed to telling stories that go beyond the surface to reflect the rich cultural landscapes of Los Angeles and embrace the diverse voices of the region’s community. Launched in 2019, shows created by LAist studios include: The Big One; Servant of Pod; Hollywood, the Sequel; California City; California Love; and the recently released Norco ’80.

Apple recently included California Love on their Favorite Podcasts of 2020 list, and Spotify named it one of the Top Podcasts of 2020, including the episode “Ellie” on the Spotify 2020 Podcast Hall of Fame playlist. In the 2020 Podcast of the Year awards, Adweek honored the California Love episode “P-Line” as Episode of the Year; named host Walter Thompson-Hernández Podcast Innovator of the Year; and named producer Megan Tan Producer of the Year. Further, Bello Collective included California City and California Love on its annual “Bello 100” list of their favorite podcasts of the year.


Buzzsprout Announced Dynamic Content for all Buzzsprout Accounts



Buzzsprout announced their Dynamic Content tool that gives Buzzsprout podcasters more control over their episodes. The tool is intended to extend the life of evergreen podcast episodes. Buzzsprout’s Dynamic Content tool (DC) lets podcasters add and remove short pre-roll (intros) and post-roll (outros) to – or from – their content. Users can add updated content retroactively applying changes to all existing content.

To clarify how that works, Buzzsprout provided an example:

Let’s say you have an online course to promote in your pre-roll but don’t want to manually edit and re-publish individual episodes.

Using Dynamic Content, you can apply the pre-roll message to your whole catalog straight from your dashboard, saving time and giving you more flexibility in how you manage your podcast episodes.

Buzzsprout’s Dynamic Content (DC) tool is different from Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) in two ways:

While DAI swaps ads or sponsorships in episodes by targeting them at specific people or groups, Buzzsprout created their tool without these features letting podcasters stay in charge of their content without sacrificing the privacy of listeners.

Buzzsprout worked as effectively as possible to efficiently create this high-bandwidth feature without raising prices. Ultimately, they were able to create a tool that’s both valuable and available to all Buzzsprout users regardless of plan.

You can use the Dynamic Content feature to: thank a sponsor, announce an upcoming event (live or virtual), send a holiday greeting, thank your supporters at the end of your episode (patrons), promote a giveaway, let people know about your Facebook Group, Instagram Page, etc., or cross-promote other podcasts.


Apple Launched Apple Podcasts Spotlight, Considers a Subscription Service



Apple Podcasts has launched Apple Podcasts Spotlight. The first podcast to be featured is Celebrity Book Club Podcast which is hosted by Chelsea Devantez.

Mac Rumors posted this quote:

Apple Podcasts Spotlight helps listeners find some of the world’s best shows by shining a light on creators with singular voices,” said Ben Cave, Global Head of Business for Apple Podcasts. “Chelsea Devantez has created a fun, vibrant space with Celebrity Book Club for listeners to gain new perspectives on the celebrities we thought we knew. We are delighted to recognize Chelsea and Celebrity Book Club as our first Spotlight selection and look forward to introducing creators like Chelsea to listeners each month.

Mac Rumors reported that Apple will announce new Spotlight creators on a monthly basis. The feature will represent a wide range of podcast genres, formats, and locations, with a focus on independent voices.

The announcement of Apple Podcasts Spotlight comes after The Information reported that Apple is discussing a new subscription service that would charge people to listen to podcasts (according to people familiar with the matter).

The Information noted that Apple’s subscription service “could pose a threat to Spotify, SiriusXM, Amazon, and other big companies that have in the past couple of years swallowed up podcasting production firms in an effort to gain more control of the podcast ad market.” The Information states that Apple charging for individual podcast could potentially give podcast creators a way to make money.

Bloomberg also reported that Apple is working on adding a subscription service with its partners (again, according to people familiar with the matter). Apple reportedly talked about stepping up funding for new shows and marketing.

It is unclear to me whether Apple Podcasts Spotlight would have anything to do with Apple’s subscription service. My concern is that people who listen to podcasts on Apple Podcasts will lose access to the podcasts they love – unless they buy a subscription. Will Apple Podcasts become yet another “walled garden”?


Tencent Music Entertainment Group Announced Acquisition of Lazy Audio



Tencent Music Entertainment Group the leading innovative online music entertainment platform in China, announced that it entered into a definitive agreement to acquire 100% equity interest of Shenzhen Lanren Online Technology Co., Ltd (“Lazy Audio”, “Lanren tingshu”), a well-established audio platform in China, for a total consideration of RMB2.7 billion, payable in cash, plus certain post-acquisition equity-settled awards to Lazy Audio’s team.

The existing shareholders of Lazy Audio include China Literature Limited, Lazy Audio’s management team and other financial investors. The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021 subject to closing conditions.

Founded in 2012, Lazy Audio is a comprehensive audio platform providing entertainment in the forms of audiobooks, Chinese comedy, podcasts and other radio shows to customers. It monetizes via different channels, including pay per title, subscription payment for content, and advertising. Lazy Audio has developed into a thriving community with strong user interactions and engagement, providing superior content and services to audio users across China. Lazy Audio has a highly-scalable user base, making it one of the leading audio platforms in China.

“We are delighted to welcome the talented Lazy Audio team to the TME family, and expect this strategic acquisition to significantly deepen our presence in the fast growing long-form audio industry in China,” said Mr. Cussion Pang, Chief Executive Officer of Tencent Music. “As a leading provider of audio entertainment, Lazy Audio can be seamlessly integrated into our existing long-form audio strategy, enabling us to further monetize the extensive library of high-quality literature IPs that we have access to through strategic partnerships with China Literature and others.”

“Lazy Audio’s catalog is set to expand our audio content library, and its recording capacity will significantly boost our production of audiobooks. We believe this partnership will help us cater to the increasingly nuanced needs of our customers, strengthen our brand recognition in this segment, generate considerable operational synergies, and accelerate our journey to become a leading audio entertainment platform in China.” Mr. Pang added.

Mr. Bin Song, founder and Chief Executive Officer of Lazy Audio, said, “We share the same vision with TME that China’s audio industry is a less-penetrated area with great potential. Merging with TME will benefit us to strengthen our competitiveness, establish a stronger connection with Tencent portfolio and bring Lazy Audio to the next level.”

Lazy Audio will maintain its independent operations while being an essential component of TME’s overall long-form audio strategy. Upon completion of acquisition, TME will consolidate the investment in Lazy Audio, and enable Lazy Audio to have full access to TME’s expertise, leading technology, and strong promotional capabilities.


Wow in the World Wows with 100 Million Downloads



Tinkercast, the stand-out leader in audio-first children’s media, is celebrating its 100 millionth download. Founded in 2017 by three media veterans, parents and storytellers (Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, Guy Raz, and Mindy Thomas), Tinkercast’s mission is to provide screen alternative content that engages the minds and imaginations of the whole family and inspires today’s kids to become the tinkers and thinkers that will shape tomorrow.

While Wow in the World has seen steady growth over the last four years, the changing media habits of kids and families brought on by COVID-19 has accelerated the growth tremendously, increasing downloads by 94% since March 2020. That increase is due in part to the overall rise in media use for children as well as the increase in content Tinkercast rapidly created during the pandemic. Just six days after the coronavirus caused worldwide school closures affecting almost a billion children in March, Tinkercast launched a second podcast, Two What’s And a Wow, as an interactive game show for the whole family.

“The state of social and civil unrest in the U.S. coupled with the overabundance of screen time for kids and families motivated our team of tinkerers to double-down on our mission to create “cartoons-for-the-ears” about amazing things happening in the world,” said Meredith Halpern-Ranzer, CEO at Tinkercast. “Reaching 100 million downloads this week is a testament to the fact that there is a demand for well-told stories that inspire hope, joy and agency – the exact things we want more than ever for our own kids and families to feel.”

Tinkercast’s podcast continually top the kids & family podcast charts and have won numerous awards including iheartRadio Award, Parent’s Choice Gold Award, Mom’s Choice Award, KAPI Innovation in Children’s Media Award, NYF’s International Radio Award and National Science Foundation’s SBIR Award. Wow in the World has been recognized by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, The Washingtonian, NPR’s All Things Considered, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.


Hopin Acquired StreamYard



Hopin announced that it has acquired video platform StreamYard. Hopin describes itself as “the first all-in-one event platform optimized for connecting”. StreamYard is “a live streaming studio in your browser” where you can interview guests, share your screen, and simulcast to platforms like Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Hopin has a blog post on their website about the acquisition:

This acquisition combines the beautiful video production quality of StreamYard with the full end-to-end live events experience of Hopin. The result? Hopin organizers are able to create events that dazzle their attendees—across every aspect of the experience.

Together, we aim to provide a seamless, high-quality customer experience that makes people, not places, the heart of events.

Going forward, both StreamYard and Hopin users will continue to be able to use the services they know and love as they always have — no abrupt or sudden changes will happen. Only once we begin learning the best way to make the customer experience better will we begin to create a roadmap to bring both product experiences closer together. We look forward to listening and learning together with our communities.

Finally, this is a win for our industry as well. As one company, Hopin+StreamYard will deliver an unrivaled value proposition in the global events market and will help us achieve the ambitious growth goals we aim to achieve in 2021 and beyond.

To me, it sounds like this acquisition could be a good thing for new podcasters who don’t want to purchase equipment or software that can be very useful for recording and editing an episode. Those who want to do roundtable events, with many guests, can use Hopin + StreamYard to do it. It could be an interesting – and much simpler – alternative to Twitch.

TechCrunch reported that the deal is with $250 million, paid in a mix of cash and stock. StreamYard will retain its brand and in-market product so that it can integrate StreamYard’s streaming tech into Hopin’s marquee product. StreamYard will become the default Hopin streaming option.


Clarification is Always a Good Thing



Things move really fast in the podcasting industry – and outside of it. The speed of information makes it difficult for many of us to figure out what really happened. People sometimes make mistakes, misunderstand what was said, or fail to clearly state what they intended to say. When this happens, clarification is always a good thing.

It appears there has been some confusion about what Rob Greenlee (VP of Libsyn’s Content and Partnerships) said when he was interviewed on Season 1, Episode 6, of Podland News, which is hosted by James Cridland (editor of Podnews) and Sam Sethi (editor of Sam Talks Technology).

On January 7, 2021, Podnews posted an article titled: “Greenlee to step down as Podcast Academy Chair”. The article includes the following: Speaking on an episode of the Podland podcast to be released later today, Rob Greenlee has announced he is to step down as Chair of the Podcast Academy this month, as part of significant changes in the board of governors. “The board has decided to re-elect all new officers,” he explains.

The article goes on to state: Greenlee also announced in his Podland interview that Libsyn has decided not to support the new Podcasting 2.0 namespace at this time. Podnews posted a link to their article on Twitter on January 7, 2021.

In response, Rob Greenlee tweeted: “To clarify, I did NOT step down from thepodcastacademy.com Board or Chair role. The board elected ALL New Officers yesterday, is true that a New yet unannounced Chairperson has been selected. I remain in the TPA Board of Governors”.

The Podnews account responded by tweeting: “Rob’s exact words – “I’m actually going to be stepping down from the Chairpersonship this month” – at podnews.net/listen. We highlighted new board was being set up. We believe we reported this story accurately.”

On January 7, 2021, the Libsyn’s Twitter account tweeted: “Context” (with a smiling face emoji after it) and a link to Libsyn’s blog post titled: “What did Rob Greenlee Say?

Here are some key points from the blog post:

  • …Some recently published statements regarding Rob Greenlee about Libsyn’s support of the Podcast Index and his involvement in the Podcast Academy may have left some people thinking otherwise. We want to clear them up.
  • …It is important to distinguish between being supportive of the Podcast 2.0 namespace through conversation and advocacy, and integrated support of it’s associated tags on Libsyn.
  • In Rob’s own words in the excerpt below from Podland, you can see our team is supportive of the work they are doing. “And, and I think that as a team, we are very supportive of what Adam is doing over there, with trying to come up with some new ideas in the medium. And I do believe that we will probably ultimately wind up, supporting most, if not all, of what’s going on over there.”…
  • … The second headline that was reported on Rob Greenlee regarding the Podcast Academy was that he was stepping down as the Podcast Academy Chair. While this is an accurate excerpt from a statement from Rob Greenlee, it could be misleading in the spirit of what the Podcast Academy is doing and Rob’s level of involvement going forward.

Libsyn’s blog post included a response the headline by Podnews. The response was from Michele Cobb, Executive Director of The Podcast Academy: “The leadership change was a planned event and each year we will be appointing new officers at the January meeting (with a new term of February). And starting in 2022, we will be transitioning from the Founding Board of Governors to an elected board from the membership. Rob Greenlee continues as an active member of the board and an important part of helping us to grow and improve”.

In response to Libysn’s tweet, the Podnews Twitter account responded: “Grateful for this response. We believe we covered these stories accurately and do not believe we took any statements out of context. Clarification is always a good thing though.”


The Podcast Academy Announced Changes to Executive Commitee



The Podcast Academy announced that there will soon be changes to their Executive Committee. The organization’s by-laws direct the Board of Governors to appoint a new Executive Committee annually, beginning in February.

The by-laws also allow for up to 20 seats on our Board of Governors. And so, beginning this month, we are excited to welcome Kintan Brahmbhatt (Amazon Music), Amy S. Choi (The Mash-Up Americans), and DeRay Mckesson (Educator. Activist. Author) to the Founding Board of Governors.

The 2021 Board of Governors include the following Officers:

  • Chairperson: Rob Greenlee – VP, Content and Partnerships, Libsyn
  • Vice Chairperson: Donald Albright – President & Co-Founder, TenderfootTV
  • Secretary: Kerri Hoffman – President and CEO, PRX
  • Treasurer: Christy Mirabal – VP of Marketing, SonyMusic Entertainment

The 2021 Board of Governors includes the following Governors:

  • Kintan Brahmbhatt: Director and GM, Podcasts Amazon Music
  • Conai Byrne: President, iHeartMedia
  • Ben Cave: Global Head of Podcasts, Apple
  • Amy S. Choi: Co-Founder and Editorial Director, The Mash-Up Americans
  • Erik Diehn: CEO, Stitcher
  • Anya Grundmann: SVP, Programming and Audience Development, NPR
  • Courtney Holt: Head of Studios and Video, Spotify
  • Hernan Lopez: Founder & CEO, Wondery
  • DeRay Mckessen: Educator, Activist, Author
  • Christina Moore: Founder, Don’t Skip Media
  • Rekha Murthy: Independent Podcast Strategist
  • Liliana Maria Percy Ruiz: Executive Producer, On Being Studios
  • Oren Rosenbaum: Agent, Emerging Platforms, United Talent Agency
  • Lauren Spohrer: Co-Creator of Criminal and This is Love Podcasts
  • Alia Tavakolian: EVP of Content, Spoke Media
  • Jenna-Weiss Berman: Co-Founder, Pineapple Street

The Podcast Academy noted that beginning next year, and also per their by-laws, they will hold annual elections to fill seats on the Board of Governors. All Podcast Academy members will be able to nominate members for consideration, and vote on the Board Members.


Sewing Podcast for Black Women Surpasses 100K Downloads in 1 Year



Stitch Please Podcast announced a celebratory milestone, achieving “100,000 downloads in one year” as it continues to galvanize an online community of sewists while celebrating Black women, girls, and femmes in 6 continents and across 95 countries.

Created by Lisa Woolfork, a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast and antiracist community organizer in Charlottesville, Virginia, the vision for the podcast evolved after the deadly white supremacist attacks there in August 2017.

With a passion for racial justice and deep roots in the creative art of sewing, Lisa turned trauma and tragedy into a pathway towards hope and healing for Black women.

“Creating a space for Black women, girls, and femmes in the sewing sphere is a reclamation project. Though sewing, like other needle arts, is an African American ancestral practice, the sewing community, in general, fails to acknowledge Black women or prioritize our views,” says Lisa Woolfolk.

Stitch Please podcast fosters a restorative safe space where Black women, girls and femmes are prioritized and encouraged to embrace their whole creative selves. Weekly episodes cover a variety of topics including practical sewing tips and projects, frank discussions of racism, interviews with Black women sewists, printmakers, quilters, designers and more.

Stitch Please airs on Wednesdays @ 7:00 am EST on Apple podcasts, Catcher, Spotify and everywhere podcasts are found.