And in case you didn’t know, I’m Nick Quah. I publish and write this thing. I founded Hot Pod in November 2014, back when the first season of Serial was hitting fever pitch, because I couldn’t find any place that was writing about podcasts or the nascent industry surrounding them in a way that was interesting to me. (Poynter has a good write-up on Hot Pod’s history.) Previously, I worked on audience development efforts at Panoply. I’ve also worked at Business Insider and BuzzFeed. New Haven, CT is my current home.
Hot Pod doesn’t cover everything about podcasting — I don’t have the means to do that, and I’m also not necessarily interested in every aspect of the space. I usually focus on three things:
(1) The emerging professionalization of the podcast and on-demand audio industry;
(2) How broadcast radio, and in particular public radio, is changing over time within the context of that professionalization;
(3) How broader technological developments inform that process.
To reiterate: Hot Pod isn’t designed to be comprehensive — it is not a newswire.
I also think it’s important to note: I don’t consider myself a reporter or a journalist. I’m a writer. Furthermore, it’s crucial you should know I’m not an unbiased observer. I’m principally animated by a belief in the power of podcasts and on-demand audio as a media space to produce good work, good journalism, and good entertainment. My coverage, thus, is largely driven by my interest in developments that I believe will lead to better outcomes for podcasts — and the media — as an ecosystem. Which is to say, I have both emotional and financial stake in the affairs covered here.
That being said, I do work pretty hard to be as fair and clear as possible in my attempt to make sense of the industry. If my positionality bothers you, I recommend reading this newsletter less as a definitive space of journalistic record — which it does not purport to be — and more as a notebook of ideas, observations, analysis.
One more thing: Hot Pod is an independent publication, funded by direct support from readers, classifieds, and occasional live events. I tried doing consulting gigs early on in the business, but I hardly do them any more. I also currently operate with a small grant from the Democracy Fund to conduct research on the potential of local podcasts. That work largely takes place separate from my work with Hot Pod.
Which brings me to this:
(inspired, in large part, by Ben Thompson’s Stratechery)
With Hot Pod, I value independence above all else — independence of thought, inquiry, and of course, authority. As such, I’d like to make the following clear:
(1) The coverage, opinions, and analysis that you see in Hot Pod is solely driven by my own interest and sense of news judgment. Nothing else.
(2) I am not invested in any of the companies that I write about.
(3) Reader support accounts for the greatest proportion of Hot Pod’s revenue at pricing tiers of $3, $5, or $7 a month. There are currently hundreds of supporters, distributed across all pricing tiers and across the entire podcast ecosystem. My business is built to be aligned with readers, not companies.
As I mentioned earlier, I was once an employee at Panoply — which I cover in this newsletter — and I left the company in February 2016 on good terms. My time there has no bearing on my current analysis and opinions; and the information I run in Hot Pod is based on publicly-available information or information I’ve obtained from reporting after that date.
I’d like to reiterate that I value my independence and Hot Pod’s intellectual integrity above all things. As such, I take accusations of influence by any company very, very seriously. If you have questions about any of this, write me.