Something is up at Crooked Media. The Left-leaning news company’s go-to funny man Jon Lovett…seems to be not-so-quiet quitting. Not only has he been a bit hostile to the other bros of the podcast network, but he’s repeatedly been absent.
Now, as is their wont, the other members of Crooked have put on a brave face. They keep saying Lovett “doesn’t feel well.” And long-term listeners to Pod Save America know that Lovett and Tommy Vietor don’t really like each other.
As an aside, I think Vox Media and Crooked Media should consider merging. There are a lot of built-in synergies that might be exploited. I don’t know what the structure of Crooked Media is, so I suppose it’s possible that Lovett might be able to cash out if he left the company.
I’ve enjoyed listened to the Crooked Media podcast network since the beginning, but it’s beginning to have some growing pains. I’m talking specifically of how it continues to have the core Crooked team of hosts read their adveristments.
This made sense back when they were a plucky startup, but now…not so much. Time to put on your big boy pants, guys. Hire someone to read the fucking ads, your lackadaisical approach to something as important as reading ads is starting to be embarrassing.
What’s more, it just doesn’t make any sense for Crooked to use its hosts to read ads. There needs to be a wall of some sort between editorial and advertising, just like in a traditional news organization. If it’s not just you and your bud doing a podcast, but rather an actual company….maybe hand off reading ads to professionals?
As an aside, I wonder if maybe Crooked Media would be interested in merging with the Vox Media company. Seems like that might be a very complimentary merger. But, what do I know. Whatever. No one listens to me.
As we enter 2023, I can’t help but be reminded of how the podcasting interesting has kind of entered something of a rut, at least to me as a listener. It would be fun if there was a young, hip — and snarky — podcasting network that evoked the early days of Gawker Media.
You would use the same formula that Nick Denton with the Gawker blogs — you setup semi-daily podcasts devoted to a the events around on specific city. So, New York City would be meda, celebrity and finance, LA would be devoted to showbiz and DC would be focused on politics and San Francisco devoted to tech. You hire young, passionate media people just out of college — read cheap — and let them have it.
Now, here and there you find podcast networks that have elements of this, but not all in one place. Some of the podcasts that Crooked Media does have potential, but they’re not really the focus of the Crooked Media network. If the podcasting network I propose became a success, you could direct listeners to blogs produced by your media company.
I have a feeling the money for such a dream has come and gone. Maybe if it was 10 years ago, you could pull this idea off. But podcasting pretty mature now. So, lulz. What do I know.
In the name of forcing myself to go outside my information bubble ecosystem, I have started to listen to the “All-In” podcast as much as possible. I continue to get a chuckle out of how much of a cultural chip on his shoulder one of the podcast’s contributors has.
David Sacks is becoming my go-to guy for hot takes that are pretty much the summation of all the bullshit rolling around the MAGA bullshit generator. He also reminds me very much of my Traditionalist relatives in how much conflates the softpower of smug Twitter liberals with the hard power that MAGA craves so much.
Just because your quasi-fascist ideas are roundly panned by very online Twitter liberals and you get your fee-fees hurt, doesn’t give you the right to use the levers of power to end what’s left of American democracy. But, yet, here we are. Sacks and his ilk hate on the very liberal elites they demand the validation of.
While on one hand, they want to destroy Twitter liberals, on the other they seem to think that Twitter liberals are all powerful and the only way MAGA can get what it wants is to “own” them as much as possible. It’s a very unstable, convoluted situation for a variety of reasons.
You just can base your entire political movement on “owning the libs” before either you find yourself fading into irrelevance or you start to think seriously of figuring out how to have minority political rule.
Anyway, I know Sacks’ “type.” I am immediately related to one and every talking point that my relative uses, Sacks also uses. Both people also seem to seeth with a lot of cultural resentment over this or that slight.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that some of the “woke” bullshit I’ve begun to see on Tik-Tok really grinds my gears. And, yet, my own personal negative polarization is such that — like, what am I going to do? I hate MAGA and if my fate is to have to defend the absolutely most woke hot take simply because that person is also anti-MAGA, I’m cool with that.
I just want to live in a stable Western democracy, it really shouldn’t be so difficult.
As I’ve said before, just checking my personal Webstats here, I can tell you that there is a huge market for celebrity news. And, as far as I know, while there are a lot of podcasts that deal with celebrity news, it seems like if you assembled an early-Gawker like team that you might be able to find some success.
You get a bunch of young, just out of college people to produce a series of different podcasts about different elements of the celebrity world then use whatever attention you get from doing that to direct the audience to a 2004-like Gawker. That’s how you would be able to bootstrap your site to success, even though the blog industry is very, very mature at this point.
Or, put another way, the aesthetic of the old Gawker doesn’t really exist in modern media. Most of the vibe of the early days of Gawker has drifted to Twitter to the point that we don’t even think about it. The average Twitter user is bombarded on a daily basis with crowdsourced snark.
But I do think if you could replicate the snark of Spy, Late Night With David Letterman and the original Gawker with a new podcasting network that you would find success. I just think that if you sort of had a Buzzfeed meets Gawker type podcast network then maybe there would be an audience. You draw people in to your podcast network by obsessing over celebrity then once people are listening or reading, you throw in some more serious reporting.
And, yet, it could be that my lingering obsession with the old Gawker is showing in the sense that, lulz, the old Gawker just isn’t coming back. No amount of me pining for it is going to make it happen.
So, I don’t know. I think that no amount of complaining on my part is going to change anything. Just like rock music is dead, it’s possible that the cool snarky content that I really enjoyed during a dark time in my life a long time ago simply isn’t going to come back.
I continue to find it very aggravating that we’re experiencing something of a “vibe shift” in pop culture…and yet it’s not really being breathlessly documented by some new podcast, or Website or whatever. I mean, Julia Fox is someone I’m so interested that I’m willing to step outside my passive Twitter media bubble to find out what she’s up to — and there’s no central repository of information about her.
So, again, it seems to me that there is money to be made via say, a podcast that would direct people to a Website. Something like that. Something that would be multimedia in nature.
And, yet, the argument could be made that even podcasting is pretty much mature. The Web is definitely mature. And it would take millions to bootstrap a new print magazine.
So…lulz? I think this is it. No one wants to be cool and make money by documenting Julia Fox’s every twitch in a snarky way. I suppose that something unexpected might pop up at some point, but things are looking kind of bleak when it comes to pop culture coverage at the moment.
I’m beginning to believe that Spotify was very smart to invest big in podcasts. It seems to me that we’re just about to go to the next level with podcasts. There is just too much slack, too many unfilled niches in the podcast industry for this not to be the case.
Let me explain.
Usually, any industry is going to consolidate into three or four major players. Or, something happens to make the whole issue moot. So, with blogs about 20 years ago, you had an explosion of really cool blogs that filled a number of niches.
And then social media came and, lulz, nothing matters anymore.
I mean, it’s a real, real struggle for me to get outside of my passive comfort zone and read any blog. I get all my information from Twitter. So, in a sense, at least for me, Twitter is the center of my online experience.
But there are two online spaces that draw my attention away from Twitter — Tik-Tok and Spotify. Tik-Tok because it’s strangely addictive and my be reading my mind (ha!) and Spotify because I love music….and I keep finding new and interesting podcasts to listen to.
In fact, if I had the right personality, I probably could start a very successful podcast. But, alas, I have no friends, no one likes me and I have no money to bribe people to pretend to like me enough to talk to me on a podcast on a regular basis.
But the point remains — there is huge growth potential for podcasts. In fact, it could be that, in the end, podcasts may just grow and grow until the metaverse finally arrives. Remember, all the other options are mature. YouTube is mature. Social media is mature. Blogs are mature. The only industry with any momentum and room to grow is podcasting.
And, really, all you need is a basic amount of infrastructure, talent, vision and access to Spotify. If you did a good enough job with the other elements, you could — potentially — grow organically.
Anyway, there is a window of opportunity, maybe two years, that if you came up with a great podcast idea that you could probably re-create the cool of Gawker Media back in the day.
Alexa Chung is demonstrably a gorgeous woman, so it’s not like she has a “face for podcasting,” it’s just she’s very, very witty. And I think the one space in the podcasting market that’s not properly exploited at the moment is sort of the comedy-news segment.
You have political podcasts from Crooked Media (I know about Lovett Or Leave It) and you have the “Fly On The Wall” podcast from SNL alums David Spade and Dana Carvey, but there’s not really a Weekend Update kind of podcast that I’m aware of. Lovette or Leave it is sorta what I’m thinking of, but it’s really a political podcast that’s funny rather than a fusion of the two genres.
In fact, I think if Chung teamed up with Spade and Carvey to talk about current events that I think it would be really popular. I don’t think Spade likes to talk about politics, but I don’t think it would be too hard to convince him to change his mind.
But I do think Chung should lean into how witty she is. She always manages to make me laugh, anyway.
When I was in Seoul, I came as close as I’m ever going to get to the Algonquin Round Table with something called Talking Crap. It was a little group of really witty people who sat around, got drunk and said witty things.
Now, let me be clear — absolutely no one listens to me and I have no friends. But if someone in New York City could round up a bunch of really interesting people — maybe four? — who would spend an hour each day talking about the New York scene and such.
I wish there was something I could do to make this a reality, but I can’t. I’m powerless. But if you want to know what’s inspired me, watch this video about the “Vicious Circle.”
It’s not one to one, but as a rule of thumb, the podcasting space is around the same level of development as blogging was around 2003. If I have my chronically correctly, I think Gawker Media was founded around 2002 – 2003.
Anyway, the point is — podcasting is still somewhat under developed. There is still room for a blow out podcast network to blow up out of nowhere. There are a few really powerful podcast networks floating around, but there remains a bit of excitement in the podcasting sphere.
There is a window of opportunity for something cool to happen. I doubt anyone will do anything about it, though.
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