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From: Glenn Petersen4/20/2019 9:07:06 PM
   of 90
Can Luminary entice podcast listeners to pay to listen?

E ric Zorn
Chicago Tribune
April 19, 2019

Tuesday may mark the beginning of the end of the free ride for podcast listeners.

That’s launch day for Luminary, a heavily capitalized startup that for $8 a month will offer a package of more than three dozen exclusive audio programs starring such notables as Conan O’Brien, Lena Dunham, Trevor Noah and Chicago’s own David Axelrod.

Pay-to-listen podcasts have been around since the dawn of the medium roughly 15 years ago, but for the most part they’ve been niche products aimed at devoted fan bases. The popular, buzzy podcasts atop the iTunes charts have been free and, increasingly, so plentiful that even devoted listeners can’t keep up.

Attempts to erect paywalls and cash in on the appetite for quality programs have been unimpressive.

Certain producers are able to sell “bonus” content, extra segments, for a modest fee, and others are sustained through crowdfunding sites such as Patreon. But most pay the bills with commercials.

Those bills can be small. Many podcasts are just people yakking into a microphone.

Or they can be considerable. The most ambitious offerings feature extensive shoe-leather reporting and take months to produce.

There’s a reason dollar signs are in the eyes of entrepreneurs. Survey data released last month by Edison Research and Triton Digital showed that 51 percent of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to a podcast, up from just 30 percent five years ago, and that 32 percent listen at least monthly, more than double the rate of five years ago.

Lena Dunham has signed up be on podcast provider Luminary. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

These trends are driven by record-high ownership of podcast-enabling devices — smart speakers, now in 23 percent of homes, and smartphones, now carried by 86 percent of Americans.

They’re also driven by the stunning range and quality of these on-demand shows. I now subscribe to 77 podcasts. The topics covered include local, state and national news, pop culture, the law, philosophy, science language, old-time music and University of Michigan sports. Some are weekly, others daily. And I’m lucky if I get through 20 of them a week, even listening at double speed as is my wont.

When someone offers me a must-listen recommendation, I immediately start trying to figure which show I’ll have to bump out of my regular rotation.

Which is why I wonder if Tuesday might instead mark the beginning of the end of the idea that consumers in great number will pay for podcasts.

Luminary reportedly is starting with nearly $100 million in funding and the stated goal of becoming the Netflix of podcasting.

The potential analogy is apt — for a monthly fee, Netflix offers TV viewers a range of exclusive, high-quality content as well as conventional movie and TV programs.

But Nicholas Quah, who writes the Hot Pod newsletter that covers the industry in depth, is skeptical.

“Netflix didn’t build an initial sustainable user base off the strength of exclusives,” he wrote last month. “It build that audience through film and television products that had already been tested in the marketplace, but were inefficiently monetized, insufficiently monetized, and/or hard for people to access.

“To put it another way: Netflix’s early success was rooted in giving users products they already knew they wanted, that they were already habituated into paying for,” Quah wrote. “That allowed them to expand into a different kind of business while being backed by the stability of the older one. Netflix’s original content journey was gradual.”

He asked the critical question: “What specifically about Luminary’s portfolio should convince me … to pay $8 a month instead of turning to the enormous universe of free alternatives?”

“Enormous” doesn’t even say it. The podcast directory site Blubrry estimates there are more than 130,000 active podcasts (and many times that number of discontinued podcasts).

So the question for Luminary is, how can it succeed where others have not? How can it persuade customers already overwhelmed with podcast choices and feeling inundated by video providers rattling their tin cups to put yet another monthly subscription fee on their charge cards?

What’s our limit? Last month, Apple announced Apple TV Plus, yet another pay platform that will offer streamed original or exclusive video content. Although the company didn’t disclose its exact offerings and the pricing model, I instinctively recoiled.

Just to participate in dinner party conversations anymore you have to subscribe to Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime Video. Maybe also CBS All Access, Showtime and Starz, if your social circle consists of engaged viewers.

And yes, I know, TV has never been better. Subscription models drive quality and consistency. They’ve inspired commercial-supported networks to up their game considerably.

Who knows? We may someday look back on the pre-subscription days of podcasting with the same patronizing disdain with which we now look back on the days of antenna TV.

Will Luminary be the breakthrough product? Or — my guess — will it be Spotify, Pandora, Audible or SiriusXM, established streaming-audio giants that are integrating on-demand programming into a much broader range of offerings? Either way, to change the fundamentals of this medium, some subscription service will have to corner the market on at least one critically hailed “it” podcast that everyone’s talking about, the audio equivalent of “House of Cards,” “Game of Thrones” or “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

Subscribe or miss out. It’s a powerful incentive.

Not yet powerful enough for me, but when it comes to possibilities, I’m all ears.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (52)4/22/2019 8:48:41 PM
From: Sam
   of 90
The web seems to be trying to nickel and dime people to death. Personally, I can't see how that will be a long term winning strategy. There are just too many options out there and too little time, money and energy to deal with them all.

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To: Sam who wrote (53)4/22/2019 9:28:42 PM
From: Glenn Petersen
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It is going to be hard to set up a paywall with over 600,000 available podcasts. Individual podcasters may be able to charge a subscription fee, but the vast majority of podcasters are going to be dependent on advertising revenues.

Netflix only has 6,000 movies and series available for streaming and approximately 100,000 DVDs (movies and series) available for rental.

There are a lot of entertainment and educational options to choose from.

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From: JohnM4/24/2019 11:15:33 AM
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The New York Times has an interesting review of Michael Lewis' podcast venture.

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To: Sam who wrote (53)4/24/2019 11:18:04 AM
From: Glenn Petersen
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A rough start for Luminary:

The Joe Rogan Experience to withdraw from Luminary

Nicholas Quah
Hot Pod News
April 24, 2019

The Joe Rogan Experience has requested to be removed from the Luminary platform, I’ve confirmed.

The team explicitly cites licensing issues as the reason behind the intent to withdraw. “There was not a license agreement or permission for Luminary to have The Joe Rogan Experience on their platform,” a representative from the team told me last night. “His reps were surprised to see the show there today and requested it be removed.”

Luminary declined to comment for this story.

If the request is honored, The Joe Rogan Experience would be yet another high-profile podcast to actively withdraw from the app following The New York Times’ The Daily and Spotify’s various show assets, including programming from Gimlet Media and Parcast. (Hat tip to The Verge, which broke the The Daily and Spotify pull-outs on Monday.)

It’s also another massive podcast, next to The Daily, to do so. Now almost a decade old, the Joe Rogan Experience is widely thought to be among the most downloaded and consequential podcasts in operation. Apple has listed the show as one of the twenty most-downloaded podcasts on its platform in both 2017 and 2018, and the show routinely drives headlines off its distinctly Dark Web-ish politics and attention-grabbing booking prowess, with a guest list that has included Elon Musk, Sam Harris, Mike Tyson, and the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Last month, Slate published a cover story on the podcast, calling it “an essential platform for ‘freethinkers’ who hate the left.”

It’s worth noting that Luminary won’t be the only podcast-distributing platform to not have The Joe Rogan Experience; in fact, the podcast is missing from Spotify as well. But the show’s absence on Luminary, as part of what appears to be a broader cascade of publisher withdrawals, will surely sting the upstart more. As I’ve pointed out, it’s likely that Luminary’s audience strategy relies on using its free tier to bring people into the app in the first place, after which the app will try to push them down the paid funnel. Losing access to some of these bigger shows certainly complicates the first part of that equation.

Anyway, not to be gauche, but I think this development further supports the analysis I laid out in yesterday’s column: the industry push-back to the Luminary launch that we’re seeing is less an overt expression of the brewing podcast platform war, but the result of more mundane procedural breakdowns around licensing agreements. Furthermore, my sense is that this story treads less on the question about who gets to do what under the soft cultural tenets around podcasting and openness, and is more about the line beyond which an action becomes exploitative of someone else’s intellectual property.

What a rough roll-out for Luminary, yikes. It will continue to be rough, too, as The Joe Rogan Experience isn’t the only publisher outside of The Daily and Spotify that’s withdrawn from the platform. If you poke around the app, you’ll find that shows from the recently-launched Endeavor Audio are als

o blacked out as well. And it’s likely there will be others more to come.

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To: Glenn Petersen who wrote (56)4/30/2019 11:58:40 AM
From: Sam
   of 90
Buried Truths

What Is ‘Buried Truths’?We can’t change our history, but we can let it guide us to understanding.

WABE’s Peabody Award-winning Buried Truths podcast acknowledges and unearths still-relevant stories of injustice, resilience and racism in the American South. The podcast uses investigative journalism to honor lives and reveals what’s been hidden, not published and not taught. Season 2 tells the story of A.C. Hall, a black teenager mistakenly identified as stealing a gun in 1962, Macon, Georgia. Through A.C.’s story, host Hank Klibanoff examines police privilege, racial conditioning, community activism and more. Season 1 focused on Isaiah Nixon, voter suppression and new beginnings. Scroll down to listen to all episodes from both season.

The shows are archived and can be listened to here:

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From: Sam5/14/2019 10:30:08 AM
1 Recommendation   of 90
NPR podcast directory:

I got to this directory from today's 1A which deals with the Larry Nassar case and a podcast that talks about his case and why it took so long for him to be stopped. Why don't victims of sexual abuse come forward? Why aren't children believed when they report these things?

Here is the URL of where the 1A story will be archived:

Here is the URL of the podcast "Believed":

Here is more on the 1A story:

Who Is Believed?
Tuesday, May 14 2019 • 10 a.m. (ET)

“They all needed Larry. Gymnastics is punishing. Spend enough hours hoisting your body up and over those wooden gymnastics bars, eventually the skin on your palms rips right open.”

That’s a quote from host Lindsey Smith in the first episode of the podcast Believed, from NPR and Michigan Radio.

In 2018, Nassar was convicted of criminal sexual conduct and federal child pornography charges.

He serially abused hundreds of young women. His victims included household names like Simone Biles and Aly Raisman, but they weren’t all famous. Vox reports that the majority “were students and young female athletes — gymnasts, dancers, and volleyball players.”

At the very minimum, isn’t it unsettling to think that because of Nassar’s expertise treating athletes, he was kept on despite suspicions he was abusing his patients? And that when girls and young women came forward with their stories, no one believed them?

But it happened. For decades.

The purpose of Believed is to discover “how Larry Nassar abused so many for so long.”

In one instance, the police just believed Nassar instead of what his victim reported. And local detectives never referred the case to a local prosecutor for review, to see if this report of Nassar’s behavior reflected an isolated incident, or something worse.

We reached out to USA Gymnastics, and they sent us this statement.

We will never forget the appalling acts of abuse that have forever impacted our athletes and the gymnastics community. We admire the survivors’ courage and strength in sharing their stories, and our goal is to do everything we can to prevent the opportunity for it to happen again. USA Gymnastics is further strengthening its athlete safety policies — including provisions on mandatory reporting and setting boundaries for athlete-adult interaction — to establish greater accountability and make reporting easier. Athletes are the heart and soul of our sport, their safety is of paramount importance to us, and we are focused on making our organization more athlete-centric.

We bring you the latest on what’s happened since Nassar’s conviction and speak with Lindsey Smith about her work.

Produced by Kathryn Fink.

This show will discuss sexual abuse and assault. If you or someone you know needs to speak to someone, the National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673. You can also use the RAINN online hotline, which you can find here.


Lindsey Smith Investigative reporter, Michigan Radio; co-host, "Believed"; @lzsmitty

John Manly Attorney; represents more than 200 women who were abused by Larry Nassar; @johnmanly

Tim Evans Investigative and consumer reporter, The Indianapolis Star; @starwatchtim

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina 30th circuit court judge, Ingham County, Michigan; sentenced Larry Nassar to up to 175 years in prison; @AquiRosemarie

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From: Sam5/25/2019 8:16:58 AM
   of 90
Talking Feds

Talking Feds is a roundtable discussion that brings together some of the most well-known former prosecutors in the country for a dynamic and entertaining analysis of the most pressing questions in today's high-profile criminal cases, including the Mueller probe and related investigations.

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From: Sam6/2/2019 11:52:06 AM
   of 90
Future Perfect podcast

Future Perfect explores provocative ideas with the potential to radically improve the world. Every Wednesday, Vox’s Dylan Matthews tackles big questions about the most effective ways to save lives, reform prisons, fight global warming, and end world poverty, from decisions in Congress to choices in our everyday lives.

Here is the home page:

I have listened to two of the episodes so far and can recommend them. Here is the first one, on Andrew Carnegie and philanthropy:

What Andrew Carnegie’s philanthropy can teach us about today’s megarich
His libraries didn’t really make up for his brutal factories.
By Dylan Matthews and Byrd Pinkerton May 22, 2019, 6:00am PDT

And this one is on the Olin Foundation:

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To: Sam who wrote (60)6/18/2019 4:20:43 PM
From: Alan Smithee
   of 90

I've heard good things about the HBO series so was interested in listening to the podcast. I was disappointed.

One of the hosts is Peter Sagal of NPR Wait Wait fame.

Disappointing in the extreme.

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