We have lots of juicy stuff to dig into today — Audacy is reportedly looking to sell Cadence13 to save its NYSE listing, The Morning Toast gets a new ad sales partner and a rebrand, and Rachel Maddow joins the growing list of talent ditching TV for podcasting. Oh, and Kim K dropped her podcast the same day the SEC dropped the news that she had agreed to a million-dollar settlement for charges that she illegally promoted crypto.
But first, self-promotion!
It’s the last day to enter the Hot Pod Summit lottery
Quick reminder: today is the last day to put your name in the lottery for an invitation to Hot Pod Summit LA. The event is coming up soon, and I’m excited to see you all there.
Report: Audacy is exploring the sale of Cadence13
Audacy is in financial trouble, and it may have to sell podcast network Cadence13 to get out of it. While its competitors iHeartMedia and Cumulus have also been hurt by the economy this year, Audacy has been trading under $1 since early July, which means it is at risk of being delisted by the New York Stock Exchange. According to a report from Axios, the audio company has hired bankers to look for a buyer for Cadence13 for a quick influx of cash.
“We don’t comment on rumors of this nature. We remain absolutely committed to the growth of our podcasting business, as demonstrated by the investments we’ve made in our studios, content and talent,” said Ashok Sinha, a spokesperson for Audacy.
Audacy acquired Cadence13, which is home to hits like We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle and Fly on the Wall with Dana Carvey and David Spade, in two stages in 2017 and 2019. The 2019 deal, in which Audacy gained full ownership of the studio, valued Cadence13 at $44 million. Axios reports that it is looking to sell the studio for double that amount, which would be worth more than Audacy as a whole. Even as one of the three biggest radio companies in the country, Audacy currently has a market cap of only $61 million.
Rachel Maddow is also trading TV for podcasting
Maybe it’s not just a comedy trend. Following the longtime MSNBC host’s decision to cut back her on-air schedule to just one day a week, Rachel Maddow is launching a new limited-series podcast for the network. Rachel Maddow Presents: Ultra will follow the Great Sedition Trial of 1944, which exposed the Nazi-backed plot by sitting members of US Congress to install a fascist regime. The eight-part show launches on October 10th.
It’s the first major project announced since Maddow said she would be stepping back from the daily grind to pursue long-form content for the network. The fact that it’s a podcast is not surprising since she previously produced Bag Man, a podcast based on her book about Spiro Agnew. But I think it also speaks to the way podcasting, in particular, has changed the options available to personalities like Maddow and, for that matter, Trevor Noah.
Even a decade ago, having a daily TV show was the gold standard — it was the premium vehicle for influence and multi-million-dollar paydays. But as cord-cutting continues’, cable doesn’t have the shine it once did. And why slog it out in the studio five days a week for 10 (or more) hours a day when you can make just as much money and reach just as many people (if not more) by recording a podcast twice a week from home and maybe throwing in the occasional streaming special. Conan O’Brien seems to have no regrets about ditching linear (nor would I if I sold my company to SiriusXM for $93 million). In his announcement last week, Trevor Noah made it clear that he is leaving The Daily Show to be free to pursue other things, like his lucrative standup tours, and I would bet a podcast deal is also coming down the pike.
The trend is most pronounced in late-night comedy, but keep an eye on broadcast news. Maddow’s move for flexibility reminds me of Emily Maitlis’ departure as the lead host of BBC’s Newsnight to co-host current affairs podcast The News Agents for British radio station LBC. While there are particulars to her situation (BBC is much more restrictive than MSNBC in terms of partisan speech and outside income for its hosts), the fact that Maitlis was willing to trade one of the highest-profile spots in TV for podcasting speaks to where the industry is moving.
Dear Media adds The Morning Toast to its roster
Or The Toast, as the celebrity news podcast is now called (not to be confused with The Toast, which was once a very good website). The deal gives Dear Media exclusive ad sales rights to Claudia and Jackie Oshry’s show and will see the sisters advising on content development and social strategy. As part of the deal, Dear Media is also investing in the Oshry sisters’ direct-to-consumer cocktail brand, Spritz Society.
It’s the latest high-profile hit for Dear Media, which recently launched Back to the Beach with Kristin and Stephen, a show popular enough that it briefly dethroned Joe Rogan on Spotify’s chart (it has since normalized a bit in the ratings but still hangs near the top of film and TV shows).
The Oshry sisters seem to have recovered from their 2018 scandal when it was revealed that their mother is none other than anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller. Although listeners have been frustrated with the pair’s unwillingness to denounce Geller’s views, their audience has only grown. The Toast consistently ranks in the top 100 shows on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and as I reported back in June, Spotify (stealthily) signed the pair for a Spotify Live show called Breaking Bread, which wrapped up its first season in August.
Dear Media is not without its own controversies. The Skinny Confidential Him and Her Podcast, which is hosted by Dear Media CEO Michael Bosstick and his wife, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick, was reported by Bloomberg to be charging for brand interviews without properly disclosing to listeners that the appearances were sponsored. The company has since started adding disclosures.
Spotify launches long-awaited podcast from Kim Kardashian
After announcing a deal with Kim Kardashian more than two years ago, Spotify has launched Kim Kardashian’s The System: The Case of Kevin Keith. The show examines the shaky 1994 murder conviction of Kevin Keith, whose family has worked for decades to clear his name (sound familiar?). The new show already has the sixth spot on Spotify’s podcast chart.
Even with the two-year delay, the podcast’s timing is shrewd. The dismissal of Adnan Syed’s case last month renewed interest in (and downloads for) Serial and reignited the discussion over how true-crime podcasts can (or fail to) address the failures of the criminal justice system. The show also dropped the same day the US Securities and Exchange Commission announced that Kardashian had agreed to a $1.26 million settlement after being charged with illegally promoting cryptocurrency. I may not be a Kim K fan, but I will grant that she is a marketing genius.
That’s all I got. See you next week.