The New York Times Acquires Serial Productions

Serial logoThe New York Times Company announced that it would acquire Serial Productions, the company that produces the groundbreaking Serial podcast. In addition to the acquisition, The Times also announced that it had entered into an ongoing creative and strategic alliance with This American Life that will enable it to continue to collaborate on long-form audio stories with Serial Productions and to collaborate on marketing and advertising sales with The Times. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Serial Productions is a team of audio’s best and most successful long-form journalists and narrative storytellers led by Julie Snyder, Sarah Koenig and Neil Drumming. Each episode of Serial’s first season was downloaded 20 million times on average and is credited with igniting the current podcast boom. This American Life is the iconic, long-running, weekly public radio program, founded by host and executive producer Ira Glass.

As a Times company, Serial Productions will commission and edit its own stories and they will now be amplified by The Times. The acquisition will allow the Serial team to tell more stories and produce more series than they had previously.

With The Daily, Serial, and the strategic alliance with This American Life, The Times has now brought together three of the most important audio brands in the world. Along with other chart-topping shows and series, including 1619, Rabbit Hole and Caliphate, as well as the recent acquisition of Audm, The Times will continue to build new listening habits across a range of formats. Creating a strong audio report aligns with the company’s broader goal to help audiences understand the world around them through journalistic storytelling.

Meredith Kopit Levien, chief operating officer of The New York Times Company said, “We’ve seen the power that audio can have in building deeper connections with our audience and we’re committed to bringing listeners the best audio journalism in the world. What better way to show that commitment than by acquiring Serial, the most celebrated and innovative podcast series ever produced and by partnering with This American Life, a program that quite simply transformed the genre. We launched The Daily in 2017 and it has quickly become the most listened to news podcast in the country. Our goal is to continue to evolve our audio offerings and to chart a sustainable course for high-quality, immersive audio journalism.”

Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor who oversees Times audio said, “We have been enormous admirers of This American Life and Serial for years and their work has inspired and informed our own. We feel confident the Serial and This American Life teams share our desire to continue to find groundbreaking ways to tell stories, grow listenership and help more and more people better understand the world. They are as mission-driven as we are and we’re so excited to welcome them to The Times family.”

Julie Snyder, the executive editor of Serial Productions said, “We’re incredibly proud of Serial and wanted to find a home where we felt shared values, one where we would be supported and resourced to tell more stories, of the highest quality. We’re thrilled to be joining The Times, where they have demonstrated a commitment to pursuing the possibilities of audio and long-form narrative journalism.”

Ira Glass said, “For years now, when people ask me to recommend a podcast, the first one I mention is The Daily. Effusively. Gushingly. It’s so impressive, how The Times jumped into audio journalism, and made a show that uses the medium so well. I also love how The Daily and the other Times podcasts are narrative journalism, like our show. They tell stories, with characters and feeling, and, of course, because they’re The Times, a lucid analysis of the world around us. I can’t imagine a better partner for the journalism we and Serial do than The Times, and look forward to continuing to invent this still-young world of podcasting with them at our side.”

As Serial Productions joins The Times, the team plans to produce a number of shows and series under The Times and Serial Productions banner. The first, Nice White Parents, will bring listeners along with award-winning reporter Chana Joffe-Walt as she examines the role white families play in shaping public education. You can listen to the trailer now, with the first two episodes available on Thursday, July 30 on or wherever you get your podcasts.

This American Life remains an independent company and will continue its weekly broadcasts on public radio and its podcast.

Two New Documentaries Tell the Story of Podcasting

Messengers logoSince the relaunch of Podcaster News in 2014, we’ve noted again and again how large media outlets misunderstand the nature and history of podcasting. No, the medium didn’t start with Serial. No, iTunes didn’t invent podcasting. Yes, there is actually a lot of important podcasting happening outside of the New York media bubblesphere. Now, more than ever, it’s extremely important to get the whole story about what podcasting is, in front of as many people as possible. And that’s what two new podcasting documentaries are hoping to do.

The first documentary is called The Messengers. Here’s the trailer:

The Messengers features interviews with a wide range of podcasters. The documentary is currently in production and will be narrated by Dave Jackson of School of Podcasting (Dave is also a past contributor to Podcaster News).

The other documentary about podcasting is called Ear Buds. Here’s the trailer:

The producers of Ear Buds have traveled all over the world to document not just podcasters, but also the fans who love listening to the shows produced by those podcasters. The documentary will be screened on Thursday, July 7th during the Podcast Movement conference in Chicago.

Serial to Become First Podcast Available on Pandora

Pandora logoMusic-streaming services sure do love podcasts. First, Deezer bought Stitcher. Then, Spotify opened a beta program for podcasts. Even Google, podcasting’s biggest stalwart, will be adding podcasts to Google Play. I guess it’s no surprise then that Pandora, one of the longest running and most successful music streamers, is getting into podcasting, too. But unlike these other services, Pandora is barely getting its feet wet in podcasting’s pool.

If you’re chomping at the bit to add your own podcast feed to Pandora’s catalog, slow down. Pandora isn’t taking open submissions. It’s not sending out private invitations or launching an exclusive beta. Pandora is entering the world of podcasting by adding one show to its platform. If you’ve paid any attention to recent podcasting news, you won’t be surprised to learn that this one podcast is Serial, the This American Life-fueled juggernaut that lit up the hearts and minds of so many pundits over the last year, causing them to gush many words about the so-called “podcast resurgence.”

Pandora will stream the first season of Serial starting on November 24th. And then some time after that (nobody knows when), Pandora will also stream Serial’s much-anticipated second season. The initial announcement of this plan led to some confusion, as many believed that Pandora would be Serial’s exclusive distributor for season 2. But that’s not accurate. Along with Pandora, Serial season 2 will also be available thru iTunes and most other podcast-y places upon its release.

‘Serial’ Crossing Over to TV

Serial logoThere’s no question that Serial has proven to be podcasting’s first true breakout hit. The show has been referenced in numerous places far outside the confines of the podcasting space. That continual notoriety is about to pay off for Serial in a brand new way. It was announced this week that a new TV show is being produced about the podcast.

The TV series won’t be a dramatization of the story covered in Serial’s first season. It will be a documentary-style look at Serial’s upcoming second season.

The series is being produced by Christopher Miller and Phillip Lord. The duo have past credits with films like The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street. Global distribution rights for the Serial TV show have been optioned by Fox 21 Television Studios. The program will most likely air on a cable network but Fox 21 is still in the process of finding a home for the show.

The second season of the Serial podcast is currently in production. Rumors have circulated that the series will focus on the case of former military officer Bowe Bergdahl. Representatives of the show have not confirmed these rumors.

Serial is Hiring

Serial logoThe so-called “podcast resurgence” of 2014 is often linked to the hyper success of two podcasts: Startup and Serial. Last week, we reported that Gimlet Media, the company behind Startup, is looking to expand its staff. This week brings similar news in that Serial is also looking for help in the form of a digital producer.

This isn’t a podcast hosting gig but more of a behind-the-scenes position:

…This person will work with the show’s production team – the host, producers, developer, production manager and coordinator— to write and develop the show’s digital content, including enterprise projects, interactive features, graphics, posts, updates, and the site in general.

We’re looking for candidates who can think through how to translate audio storytelling into a digital space. Most ideal would be someone experienced in working with and managing developers, designers, photographers and video journalists. We’re looking for strong writing, editing and communication skills, as well as an understanding of layout, typography and storytelling in the digital sphere. Candidates should be quick learners with a dynamic, creative approach who are comfortable working in a very collaborative environment.

The job listing also states that the Serial team is looking for candidates who have at least three years in digital media production, preferably in a journalism setting. The ad also emphasizes that the right candidate should be a good project manager who can work in a fast-paced environment and get things done under a deadline.

To learn more about the job and how to apply, click the link at the top of this post.

Serial Gets Its Much Anticipated Sequel… Sorta

Undisclosed logoMany people saw 2014 as “the year that podcasting broke,” because the medium was flung further into the mainstream spotlight more than it had ever been. And a lot of the credit for podcasting’s growing appeal is given to Serial, a show that may very well be podcasting’s first big hit.

Serial ended its first season leaving the show’s many devoted fans begging for more. And while the Serial website says the podcast will be back in 2015, it also says that the show will cover a brand new story on its next run That has left a lot of people wondering about the future of the case covered in Serial’s first season. Stepping into fill that void is a new podcast called Undisclosed: The State v. Adnan Syed.

Some are already calling this new podcast a “sequel” to Serial. But it’s not being produced by Sarah Koenig and the Serial team. From Slate:

…a new podcast will pick up Adnan’s story where Sarah Koenig left off—one created by Rabia Chaudry, the Syed family friend who first introduced Sarah Koenig to the case. She’ll co-host the podcast… with lawyers Susan Simpson and Colin Miller.


Undisclosed will present a combination of new reporting, Chaudry has explained, and commentary on aspects of the case we are already familiar with.

The new podcast is set to debut on April 13th. Episodes are expected to be about 30 minutes each. It’s not yet known how long the series will run. As far as I know, this is the first time a new podcast has so directly piggybacked on the success of another. At least in the case of Undisclosed, the show is being produced by those who are very close to the source material.