Substack is Investing in Podcasts

Substack is funding the launch of a new podcast network called Booksmart Studios. According to Axios, this is Substack’s first major financial investment in podcasting.

Why it matters: Substack sees the venture as a way to deepen its commitment to podcast publishing on its platform and as a case study for what’s possible for independent podcast networks.

Details About Booksmart Studios:

Michael Vuolo, former producer of WNYC’s On the Media and Matthew Schwartz, a Murrow Award-winner and NPR contributor will launch Booksmart Studios.

Five new podcasts will be added at the start. This will consist of podcasts from media veterans John McWhorter and Bob Garfield, among others. Axios reported that Garfield was fired from New York Public Radio in May for violating its anti-bullying policy.

The first three podcasts will be: Banished with Anna Khalid, Lexicon Valley with John McWhorter, Bully Pulpit with Bob Garfield. They are reportedly launching in July. Later this summer, two more podcasts will launch: The Direction of Sound hosted by Chris Mandra, and Unprecedented hosted by Michael Vuolo and Matthew Schwartz.

How can you listen to these podcasts?

According to Axios, the podcasts will be available anywhere people get their podcasts. There will also be a public RSS feed. Subscribers will get access to extra content, like full-length interviews.

Subscribers can choose to pay $7 monthly, $70 annually or $200 annually to be a “founding member”. Founding members get extra perks.

Do we really need another podcast network that locks (most) of their content behind paywalls? It sounds to me like a listener can listen to a Booksmart Studios podcast from wherever they get their podcasts, and also through RSS. But, what the listeners – who don’t spend money get – will not be a full podcast episode.