Why Techmeme launched a daily podcast

Simon Owens
Jun 18, 2019 · 24 min read
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Brian McCullough. Source: YouTube

In 2005, a computer software engineer named Gabe Rivera launched the site that would eventually become Techmeme. Governed by algorithms, Techmeme aggregated the day’s tech news, and it eventually became so influential that bloggers and journalists would vie to get their articles featured on the site.

Flash forward to 2018, and Techmeme announced that it would expand its news curation into a daily podcast. I recently sat down with host Brian McCullough to talk about how he came up with the idea for a daily tech podcast and what he’s doing to expand it into an entire podcast network.

To listen to the interview, subscribe to The Business of Content on your favorite podcast player, or you can play the YouTube video below. If you scroll down you’ll also find a transcript of the interview.

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This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Simon Owens: Hey Brian, thanks for joining us.

Brian McCullough: Hey Simon. Happy to be here.

You’re the host of the Techmeme Ride Home podcast. That’s a daily podcast, right?

It’s every day at 5 p.m. explaining what happened today in the world of tech, and it’s for your commute home. Also now we have — because I’m an insane maniac — we have weekend bonus episodes. Some months we’re pretty close to seven days a week, 30 episodes a month.

I like how it’s explicit in the name: Ride Home. It seems like you guys were trying to specifically target commuters.

It’s weird. We’ve been doing this for so long now — a year and four months. When we launched, basically there was The Daily out there, so the thinking was that since The Daily’s in the morning, we can go in the afternoon. There didn’t seem to be other afternoon daily podcasts out there. Also, it’s about workflow. I don’t want to work through the night and post a show at 5 a.m. I live in the U.S., I have kids. Maybe if I lived in Britain it’d be different.

The idea is that our listener was at work, they didn’t have time to read all the blogs and Twitter. I was reading them. So here you go.

That fits in with the general theme of Techmeme. I think most of the people who listen to my podcast know what Techmeme is, but in case any don’t, can you give them a sense of what Techmeme is?

It’s a news aggregation site. It’s been around for the better part of two decades now. But it’s not a news aggregation site like The Huffington Post. It’s literally headlines. It’s updated minute by minute throughout the day. They always say people check Techmeme 20, 30 times a day. You can check it at the top of the hour, and 45 minutes later the slate of headlines is completely different. And it’s all headlines.

That’s one of the reasons we did a daily. It wouldn’t make sense to be a Techmeme podcast that’s an end-of-the-week roundup. First of all, there are a ton of those out there, some of them done very well. You get a bunch of idiots around a table and you kick around what happened during the week.

The This Week in Tech podcast is kind of the classic tech podcast model you’re describing.

And what’s the value proposition of Techmeme? It’s ‘here’s what you missed.’ You had a meeting. You were busy in the morning. That’s the concept of the podcast. Here’s what you missed in the world of tech today.

And Techmeme is differentiated from a lot of other sites because it’s a mixture of algorithms and human editors.

Right. That was the original idea. I’ve never been privy to the algorithm. I don’t know how many years ago, but Gabe decided that the algorithm by itself wasn’t good enough, and you needed actual people to put their thumbs on the scales, and editors not only decide the most important stories, they also write the headlines. You can see them in the Slack channel all day long arguing about what’s important.

Also, they’re working 24/7. There are overnight editors every single day. There’s almost no time when there’s one editor at work. There are people finding the news, deciding what’s important, and giving it context.

I remember when he announced that he was switching over from just an algorithm to an editor-based approach. I think he was frustrated with news headlines because sometimes they buried the lede, and he wanted to draw out what was the most important piece of news worth highlighting. I think there were lots of complaints from tech bloggers about who had broken a story and someone else would get credit.

There still are those complaints on a daily basis.

And that was also the genius of Techmeme — it gamified everything. I don’t know if they still do it today, but during the heyday of tech blogging, there were these leaderboards that ranked which tech journalists got the most scoops.

Gabe introduced a product a few months ago where, if you’re a PR person, you can buy a report based on Techmeme’s data. For any topic, who is the most trusted or the most cited source in crypto, in electronic vehicles? That is a product that Gabe launched recently. If there are PR people listening and you need to know who is the go-to person to pitch in any vertical, there is a report you can now buy from them.

What’s your history with the website, both as a reader and someone who works with it?

I feel like I can remember the day. It was probably TechCrunch and probably Michael Arrington who first blogged about the launch of Techmeme. I probably made that my number one bookmark as soon as he announced it.

It’s funny, because in a weird way, all I’ve done for the last 15 years is read Techmeme all day in between the other things I’ve been doing. It’s just now that I have a job where it’s useful to do that, and there’s actual utility and something comes out of my obsessive reading of the site.

Did you join the site as an employee? How did you get connected to Gabe?

Gabe and I have known each other for several years. The long story of how I ended up doing the podcast with Techmeme is that I’d been doing the Internet History podcast for five years, and two years ago now, a brand reached out to me to do a tech podcast for them, and I mentioned it offhand to Gabe that if I did end up doing a tech podcast for this brand, I’d just end up reading Techmeme every day and regurgitating it. I asked him if he ever thought of doing a podcast, and he said ‘funny that you should mention it. Yes. Why don’t you do it?’

That’s when we had the discussion about what’s good about Techmeme. And that’s when we decided that the only thing that made sense was to do it as a daily.

You mentioned this Internet History Podcast. You were in the online media space before that. You founded a bunch of websites, right?

Yeah, I don’t know if you could call it media. I founded three different companies in the early 2000s. They were all in the online job search space. But yeah, I founded my first company in 1999. I’ve been in the tech world that long.

All that happened was that five or six years ago I decided I wanted to write a book about the history of the internet. Basically, the book ends up starting with the Netscape IPO and goes through the launch of the iPhone. It came out in October. It’s called How the Internet Happened.

This is my accidental foray into podcasting. I’m doing all the research for this book. I’m not a journalist. I’m not a historian. I knew people in the industry so I’m reaching out to various folks and getting early interviews with employee number one at Amazon and the first engineering team at Netscape. I’m recording the interviews, doing them over Skype. I’m a web guy. I’m used to having an idea, throwing it up there, and getting instant feedback.

So I’m collecting all these interviews, and I’m like ‘three or four years from now, maybe a sentence from our long interview will be in the book. Why don’t I just throw it up as a podcast?’ So that’s the Internet History Podcast. It’s been running for five years. We’re approaching 200 episodes. That’s how I accidentally got into podcasting.

The Internet History Podcast took off. I almost didn’t end up doing the book. I had to be talked back into it, because all of a sudden, you’ve got 75,000 people listening to you every week. I like the immediate feedback and gratification. That’s what sort of floated my boat.

That’s similar to an idea I had. I eventually want to write a book, and I was thinking that I’d have to conduct interviews for this book, so I might as well record them as podcast interviews. My idea was that I’d save those specific interviews until the book was published and then starting running them as a way to promote the book.

I did it both ways. There are two models of podcasting. There’s the Marc Maron model. You sit down with a microphone and have an interview. And then there’s the Dan Carlin Hardcore History model, where you write out a script and you read it. I kind of did both.

If you listen to the Internet History podcast, you will hear me read early drafts of chapters in the book. You can hears chapters one, two, and three. I was releasing them in real time. I was getting not only feedback, but corrections from listeners. I actually really recommend, if you do write a book, you do it as a podcast as a crowdsourcing thing. It’s not the dumbest idea in the world.

You have to make the decision as to how much you give away. But it really helped my process. That’s my first book.

If you weren’t a journalist, how did you convince these important people to talk to you? Did you have a book deal in hand?

No I didn’t. I didn’t have a book deal in hand until like three years into it. That’s an excellent question. It’s a question I ask myself sometimes. It helped that I had been in the tech industry for 20 years, and I did know people who could vouch for me.

But I don’t know why Jon Mittelhauser, inventor of the browser cookie, why did he agree to talk to me when there were only three episodes of the podcast live?

That was a very early insight for me. I was an early blogger, started my first blog in 2003. And then I became a newspaper journalist, and I started incorporating my journalism skills into this blog I had called Bloggasm. That was one of my first insights. You’d be surprised how much people’s egos play into it. Even if this important person had never heard of you, they’d still agree to let you interview them.

Subsequently, it is a big ego boost. You get a high when someone wants to interview you about what you did. If you look at those early Internet History Podcast episodes, there were people who hadn’t had their story told. It’s not Marc Andreessen, it’s the early engineering team. It’s the guys that made the first banner ads. I was the first person to be like ‘hey, tell your story. Tell me how you remember it.’ It’s giving people the ability to tell the story in their words, as opposed to just getting a sentence or two in an oral history.

Now, when I contact various people, they’re like ‘you’re 200 episodes in, how did it take you so long to get to me?’ And actually I get pitched by PR people all the time now. If you just churn out good work, it’s like a snowball rolling downhill.

That’s what I noticed with my own podcast. I’m 50 episodes in and I’m starting to see those benefits of having a long track record. I’m getting bigger and bigger guests. It gets easier and easier as you build it up. How did you build your audience? When did it start seeing traction?

It’s funny because there were two things that aren’t easy to replicate. If you launch a podcast and it gets chosen as new and noteworthy in Apple’s iTunes — I think I had 1,000 subscribers in my first 48 hours. That’s because someone at Apple thought it was a good idea for a podcast.

Several times I would tie things to current events. When Halt and Catch Fire came out, I interviewed Rod Canion, one of the founders at Compaq, because that’s what that show was based on. You pick people and they have social media followings, and they tweet about it. I randomly got put in touch with one of the founders of Tesla, which is sort of outside the scope of the Internet History podcast, but then it was a good interview, and it got picked up by the auto blogs.

And then one of the biggest things was that, for a while, Product Hunt had a podcast category. And so you could post your recent podcast episodes, and people would upvote it. And that was huge. I wish they would bring that back. It certainly turned a lot of important VC people onto the show.

There’s no magic bullet to these things. It’s just keep doing good work, turn the levers you can turn. Play the angles you can play. If you stay alive long enough, eventually it gets traction and mass.

The Internet History Podcast is over an hour long. What’s your philosophy on shorter podcasts vs longer podcasts? Does a longer podcast drive any additional benefits?

I don’t think so. I’m affiliated with TED because I did a TED residency for them a few years ago. I do a twice-a-year podcast workshop for the new TED residents. The thing I always say about podcasts is that it can be whatever you want. That’s one of the amazing things. As much as I like the Gimlets of the world where they chop everything down into a 20 minute, beautifully edited episode, there’s also room for the Joe Rogans or the Pete Holmes.

In a sense, what podcasting is is radio. Radio has had all sorts of formats. There’s the two-minute news drop at the top of the hour. There’s the Rush Limbaugh or Howard Stern on for five hours. That’s what I always say at these podcast workshops. Let it be whatever you want. If it works for people. If it’s something they want to consume.

That gets us back to the daily conversation. If it’s a thing where you discover a podcast and binge the back catalog — my favorite one of that is The Flop House, or Go Bayside. I’ve never watched five minutes of Saved By the Bell, but I’ve listened to all the episodes of Go Bayside just because it’s fantastic to hear them recap it.

We fit into people’s daily routines. I’m actually talking to your right now and I’m worried that one of our channels hasn’t posted yet, and I’m going to get angry tweets saying ‘it’s almost 5:30, I’ve got to leave work and I don’t have your show yet for my commute home.’ However you can fit into people’s lives, I think that’s the beauty of podcasting.

One thing I’ve been frustrated with with tech podcasts is that a lot of them are really long, and I was on the lookout for something shorter. That’s why I was a big fan of the Jay and Farhad Show.

The Techmeme Ride Home, on our weekend bonus shows, I’ve done two Jay and Farhad Show reunions thus far, and our agreement is we’ll do them about once a quarter. If you want to relive the Jay and Farhad magic, you can. I’ve done two of them. I love those guys and wish they’d come back as well.

What’s the business model for the Internet History Podcast?

It’s something I did to build an audience for the book. The book came out in October. Why am I continuing? I still love it as a hobby. I used to do it weekly. I now do it biweekly. I started doing ads. It kicks in a couple thousand dollars a month.

Did it drive sales of the book?

Yeah, it did. I don’t know how to measure that. The book did fine. We earned back our advance, which I understand is really good. We sold out our first printing. It wasn’t a bestseller.

It’s weird because I’ve used podcasts to launch other podcasts. I can’t quite quantify the degree that the podcast audience was helpful in selling the book, vs I can tell you with a dead certainty that when I use podcasts to launch other podcasts, I can measure it. I was surprised that didn’t seem to carry over to book sales. But I don’t know. With book sales, everything seems weird about it. You get a glowing review in The Wall Street Journal, and you sell 500 additional copies, and you’re like that’s it?

Certainly you wouldn’t have the Techmeme gig if it weren’t for the other podcast.

Certainly. It’s one rolling into the other. The financial success of the Techmeme podcast involves leveraging the brand of Techmeme. I didn’t launch Brian’s Ride Home podcast. I launched the Techmeme Ride Home podcast. That’s been very helpful. Our ad inventory has been sold out since June of last year. Everything’s going gangbusters for that.

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Ok, back to our scheduled programming…

Walk me through this lead up to the launch of the Techmeme podcast. You say ‘Gabe, you should be doing a daily podcast.’ Tell me your thinking as you were gearing up to launch it.

Gabe, to his credit, said OK, go do it. It’s a revenue share. I technically own the show, but I kick a percentage of what we make back to Techmeme. Because Gabe and I knew each other, and since Gabe knew I could do this, not only do I own it, but I have total editorial control. And as long as I don’t do something insane and embarrassing, it seems to be going well so far.

Having run businesses before, and having customers is one thing. It sounds like a humblebrag, but having fans is a completely different thing. When I was on the book tour and I would go to a city, I’d be like ‘hey, I’m going to be in Boston Friday night,’ and I’d announce it on the Techmeme show, and a dozen people would show up. It’s crazy to me that if something goes wrong with a show, if a show’s late, I’ll get a deluge of tweets. If I mention something about my personal life on the show, I’ll get congratulations. It’s so fascinating to have an audience and a following. It’s a crazy good thing.

Yeah, you’ll hear podcasters talk about the intimacy of podcasting. They’ll mention some sort of back problem in a single episode, and then a year later they’ll meet someone who listens to the podcast and that person asks them ‘how’s your back?’

For sure. If I ever met Paul F. Tompkins, first of all I’d be starstruck, but I’d also be like ‘I know you, dude. Can’t we be friends?’ You were talking about this on Twitter this morning. When people say that podcasting is an intimate medium, it is for realz. You are in someone’s head. Especially with a daily show, you’re part of their routine. Mondays for me are Comedy Bang Bang days. Wednesdays are Nerd Poker days. I build my week around expecting these things to happen and evolving with the hosts and the show. It is no joke. That’s why the advertising seems to be so effective for people.

How did having the Techmeme brand behind you help in terms of growing the audience?

Everyone in Silicon Valley knows the Techmeme brand. Three months or so ago we launched the Primary Ride Home that’s covering the presidential primaries. I have a new startup called Ride Home Media. My co-founder in this is a veteran of Hearst and a bunch of other places. The concept is that we’re hopefully going to have a universe of Ride Home podcasts in any vertical you can imagine.

We launched the Techmeme Ride Home podcast last year, and we had advertisers from day one wanting to be on it. And that’s entirely because of Techmeme. Believe me, getting advertisers interested in the Primary Ride Home, I realize now that we were blessed when we launched the Techmeme Ride Home, because it’s going well and the Primary Ride Home is approaching break even in terms of audience numbers and what we can sell against it, but oh man, it’s not a matter of turning on the lights and having the advertisers come to you. We had to do some shaking of the trees to get advertisers to the Primary Ride Home.

What’s your advertising strategy? I know Techmeme has an advertising platform. Are they feeding you the advertisers? Do you have to hunt them down yourself?

For the Techmeme show, yes, some of it is inbound from Techmeme. I’d say 60 percent of our ad inventory on the Techmeme show is direct sale either via Techmeme or contacting me directly. Again, it’s one of those things where we have 30,000 of the most connected people in Silicon Valley listening to Techmeme ever day. I’ve done things before on the show where I go ‘hey, I’ve got two open ad slots, does anybody out there want to fill it?’ The last time I did that I got 15 different advertisers wanting to fill it. Again, the Techmeme show is blessed.

The rest of it is we have relationships with all the different agencies, and it’s just a matter of — there’s a huge tech company that we’ve been talking with to come in and snap up Q3 and Q4 stuff, and basically we’d be sold out through the end of the year. But again, what I’m realizing now, is that for the Primary Ride Home, we’ve had to go to the agencies and be like ‘this is a politics show, it’s more urban, it’s more balanced in terms of male and female listeners.’ I’ve had in the last few months a big education in the sense that you don’t just turn on a podcast and the advertisers flock. You actually have to do the work of making it happen.

There’s all this talk about podcasters getting higher CPMs. Do you feel like you’re getting really good ad rates?

I’ve never sold an ad for under a $30 CPM. I don’t know if that’s a humble brag. We’ve had advertisers re-up five and six times now. We’ve had advertisers tell us that this is the best, most effective channel. Especially for the Techmeme show, if you’re a data ops show, where else are you going to find 30,000 of the devs and workers at startup companies, the guys and girls in the trenches that have to do this stuff every day? We’re a super, super valuable audience for them. I don’t know where else you could go for that sort of thing. There are a ton of people that have been with us almost literally from day one and have never stopped buying.

What goes into creating it every day? Walk me through your day.

Get in. Check the Techmeme Slack channel. Check Techmeme. See what’s at the top of the site. Go into the Techmeme back end. See what the editors are considering going with within the next few hours. And then literally blitz reading and putting together a script. It’s news aggregation and it is TLDR as a service. My job consists of being online all day long, reading the blogs, reading the tweets. This site says this, this person says this, Elon Musk says this. I’m contextualizing it for you. You were busy leading your life, and so on your way home, I’m going to catch you up.

That’s what blogging was too, in the way that a news thing would happen and then you wanted to go see what John Gruber had to say about it, or whatever. That’s what this new company is doing. Our thought is that it could be any niche. It could be gardening. Gaming. Celeb news. What if you could do a local one? What if it was the San Diego Ride Home? That’s what we’re looking for now. We’re about to launch show three.

Anyone who’s listening that has an expertise in a niche, if there’s a subreddit out there that has even 30,000 or 40,000 subscribers, in theory, that could be a Ride Home show. And so, come pitch it to us. Our site is Ridehome.info. Our model is a franchise. Whoever launches a show with us, it’s a revenue share. The way our economics work, if a show gets to an audience of 30,000 listeners every day, not only is it wildly profitable for us, but the podcast partner would be making into the six figures. If you got a show to 50,000, 70,000, 100,000 listeners, you’d have enough money to hire a staff. It’s very much a franchise model.

That’s the whole reason I did the Techmeme show to begin with. My idea was to test out dailies as a model. That’s what we’re trying to do, and hopefully there will be a whole universe of Rides Home very soon.

So you’re reading tech news all day, trying to sort out the day’s most important stories. And then you’re writing a script that you’ll be reading yourself?

Yes. Writing a script. Recording it. Editing it. You and I started talking at 5 p.m. today. The show mostly went live at 4:30. Some days I’m later. Some days there are problems. It is sort of a one-man band thing. I think of the old Nick Denton model of paying people to write 30 posts a day. The difference being that he was paying them peanuts, and in theory, if you work with us and you launch a ride home, it could be anything, you’re going to work your ass off, you’ll have to do it all yourself, at least at the beginning, but we won’t be paying you peanuts because it’s a whole franchise.

We talked about how having Techmeme’s name associated with it drove audience for the podcast. Do you think it’s driving value back to Techmeme?

I’m sure it is. I’m not privy to any data on that, but I’m sure some significant percentage of the daily podcast audience might not have known about Techmeme before.

This is a daily podcast. There’s been a lot written about how daily podcasts can scale and grow a lot more quickly. There’s been a lot written about The Daily at The New York Times and how humongous its business has scaled. Do you think it’s true that daily podcasts are operating on a different level of scale than the average weekly podcast?

I don’t know if ‘scale’ is the right word, but what I’ve said before is that the daily podcast audience are the podcast ultras. They’re the most committed. In theory, they might be harder to hook, but if you hook them, they are the most committed.

I still subscribe to Marc Maron’s show, but I don’t know the last time I listened to it. It’s one of those things where you pull it up in your podcast app and it’s guest specific. I ran through the entire back catalog of The Flop House. You come and go with a show. I’m not going to bad mouth some show I don’t listen to anymore. I’m sure there’s some churn with our shows. But I don’t know, especially if you’re delivering news — if you can become a daily habit, those are the most committed listeners. Those are the people for whom — it’s not just ‘is that someone I want to listen to?’ You’re providing an actual daily utility. I think that has more stickiness than other types of podcasts.

You do this daily scripted summary, but on weekends you’ve been doing interviews. What’s the strategy there?

Aside from more inventory. We’d been sold out, and if we could deliver more inventory, we could sell more ads. Aside from that, one of the things is that something will happen — for this week E3, the big video games conference happened this week, so a lot of headlines came out this week. Sometimes I just want to do a deeper dive into something. Last week, it was WWDC, the big Apple event. So the next week is a wrap-up of WWDC.

Lots of talk has been happening around the idea of regulating the big tech companies, so I’m hunting and pecking around for someone smart to come on and talk to me for 20 minutes for what that really means. What would functionally the breaking up of the tech platforms mean. The weekend episodes are a way to dive deeper into whatever we’ve been talking about on a daily basis.

Are they mainly journalists who have covered the news?

I’ve had journalists on. I’ve had venture capitalist on. I’ve had founders of companies on. I don’t want to be a PR device for any companies, but if a company is breaking news, come on my show, I’ll give you 20 minutes to talk about whatever news you want to break, with caveats that I might not take every pitch. We’ve done everything from a weekend episode of what it takes to design the new version of Helvetica to a roundtable discussion about whether self-driving cars are possible or if the technology is too far away. It doesn’t really matter.

I love doing the headlines, but I also love digging deeper.

If you look at the production staff for The Daily or Vox’s Today Explained, they have full production teams. These are highly produced podcasts. Yours is mostly just you. As your audience grows and you’re getting into the six figures of revenue, do you have any plans in the future to expand the scope or the production of the podcast? Could you see yourself, when news is breaking during the day, having a producer who’s scrambling to bring on guests? Or do you want it to remain just a curation podcast?

Sure. The reason that I haven’t staffed up for the Techmeme show right now is because I’m using the spillover to fund these other daily podcasts. But if they could get to the level that the Techmeme show is currently at, then they could staff up. I like the franchise model in the sense that it wouldn’t matter to me what the niche is, as long as it’s driving value for people. I don’t care what the editorial take would be as long as you have an audience that you’re serving.

I come back to the whole idea of bloggers, one man band bloggers, have gotten huge over the course of time. What’s that conservative site? The Drudge Report. That was two guys, and they were making millions of dollars a year and getting more pageviews than The New York Times. I don’t think this is unprecedented that you could have a really lean operation and have decent reach in podcasting. I don’t know why no one’s ever thought of that before. I’m sure other people are pursuing it right now. I don’t know that you need to have a staff of 20. That’s what makes The Daily at The New York Times great. You’re leveraging the entire operation of The New York Times. But I think lean, one-man band podcasting can be very successful.

What’s your longterm podcast distribution strategy? We’re seeing Spotify make these big moves into podcasting. There’s Luminary. You’re seeing The New York Times podcast get syndicated on the radio. Obviously Techmeme has some clout in the media world. Are there any conversations about trying to have something more than just an RSS feed? Having exclusive content? Getting more distribution on Spotify?

I don’t know what I can say about that, but I think everyone in the podcast space right now is willing to talk to anybody. Personally, I’m willing to entertain kissing anyone who will bring me to the dance. I’m very happy with podcasting in terms of the reach we’re able to achieve, the scale we’re able to achieve, the revenue we’re able to achieve. I’m not looking to pivot to video or anything like that. I’m happy to plow my lane right now. It’s just like what we knew as blogging in the 2000s, how it just became digital media as we know it today. I don’t see why podcasting would be any different.

Let me put it another way. I was around during the golden age of blogging. That was back when the web was very decentralized. Then we saw all this consolidation, especially with Facebook. A lot of blogging effectively moved to social media. And then once Facebook consolidated that power, then it had tremendous influence over the media, and now we’re seeing the bad effects of that, especially as they siphon traffic away from media sites. Do you worry about that with podcasting where it’s open for now, but a platform like Spotify might be able to consolidate listeners, and then all of a sudden, you’re beholden to the Spotify algorithm?

Yes. Putting it that way. Could the platforms ruin podcasting? Will the platforms ruin podcasting? Probably. Am I worried about that? Of course. Am I fatalistic about that? Yeah. All I know right now is that it’s fine. Do I hope the platforms don’t come in and ruin what makes podcasting great? Yes, I really hope they don’t. On the Internet History Podcast I had on Dave Winer, inventor of the RSS and podcasting, and he bangs on about this sort of thing a lot. ‘The open web needs to be open. Please stop platforming everything. Please stop posting to Medium. You can have a blog. Don’t give your stuff away to the platforms.’ One of the reasons that podcasting is so valuable right now is because it’s de-platformed. It’s because it is still a wild west. What happens, as we’ve seen with all the platforms, as soon as you put it on the platforms, as soon as you make it programmatic, it’s a race to the bottom. It’s the CPMs going down to naught. We’ve seen this happen with everything in digital media for the last 20 years. Podcasting, as of right now, through benign neglect by one of the biggest platforms, Apple, has escaped that. Long may it last. All I can tell you is we’re over here trying to make hay while the sun shines.

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Simon Owens is a tech and media journalist living in Washington, DC. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Email him at simonowens@gmail.com. For a full bio, go here.

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