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Hope you all had a great weekend. Today, I’ve got news on James Corden’s new SiriusXM deal, Theo Von’s rise on the charts, and, in what I will admit is a significant tone shift, a look at which podcasts are actually helping the discussion around the Israel-Hamas war.
Don’t call it a podcast deal (so I’ve been told). The former Late Late Show host will have a new weekly program on SiriusXM that is exclusive to subscribers. This Life of Mine with James Corden will be a weekly celebrity chat show, because literally what else would it be? The show, which will launch in early 2024, was announced in the run-up to SiriusXM debuting its new app on Wednesday.
The new app is expected to better combine SiriusXM’s satellite and podcast offerings, as executives discussed during an investor call last week. The company is under pressure to appeal to younger audiences as its flagship satellite product and Pandora hemorrhage subscribers. In Q3, SiriusXM lost 94,000 subscribers and Pandora lost 112,000. Podcasting revenue, meanwhile, grew 28 percent, even during what everyone can agree has been a pretty crappy year for podcasting.
The idea that Corden has traded the daily grind of late-night television for a lower-lift audio show is not groundbreaking (see Conan O’Brien and Trevor Noah), but it is interesting that his show is on SiriusXM proper and not being widely distributed like a podcast. Corden has never been known for being edgy, but he was exceptionally good at making fluffy, viral celebrity content. (“Carpool Karaoke” being the most notable.) A deal where his show is exclusive, and a radio show first, podcast second, seems to run against that strength.
Then again, we don’t know yet how the new app will integrate SiriusXM shows with podcasts. Maybe the exclusivity and new app configuration will encourage Corden-heads to go over to the satellite side.
Or maybe it’s just me, but I blame that on maternity leave (as I do everything!). Edison Research released its list of most popular podcasts between July and September, and This Past Weekend w/ Theo Von landed the No. 5 (!!) spot, right between This American Life and SmartLess.
Von, a comedian who is a frequent guest on The Joe Rogan Experience, has been making his show since 2016. While we have seen new shows with big names land in the rankings pretty quickly, it has been a while since we have seen a longstanding show pop like this. Between April and June this year, he ranked No. 15. In the same quarter last year, Von didn’t even break Edison’s top 50.
According to Rolling Stone, clips from This Past Weekend have been blowing up on TikTok lately, which could explain this sudden rise. Like other shows that generate viral moments (Call Her Daddy, JRE), Von’s show is a video podcast.
I have been wracking my brain trying to find a way into how podcasting impacts how the public digests and debates the war. In many ways, podcasting takes a back seat to other forms of digital media in this situation. TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter / X have been front and center because they are built to amplify the kind of shocking visuals coming out of the war and the resulting outrage. That, I think, is where podcasting can provide something different and sorely needed.
What podcasting lacks in its ability to go viral, it can (can being the key word here) make up for with depth. Over the past month, there are a number of podcasts I have turned to while trying to make sense of what is happening, and for me, it’s been an antidote to the oversimplified, righteous rage of social media.
For day-to-day news and analysis, I have been loving The News Agents. The UK-based show, hosted by three former BBC heavyweights — Emily Maitlis, Jon Sopel, and Lewis Goodall — has done a great job of looking at the war from different viewpoints, and the hosts’ analyses manage to be spicy without being sensational. While The New York Times has made some, uh, missteps in its breaking coverage, The Daily published a fascinating episode last week about how the ways in which people view the war of 1948 still fuel the conflict today. Additionally, The Ringer’s Plain English with Derek Thompson has had a number of great episodes that approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with nuance.
I will continue to keep an eye (ear) on how this continues to play out in podcasting. I am also interested in how left-leaning political shows may reflect the accelerating divide on the left more generally, so look out for that in a future issue. In the meantime, which shows have you turned to in the past month? Feel free to hit me up with thoughts and recs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
That’s all for today! I’ll be back next week with the latest audio news.