I hope you all had a good weekend. I certainly wasn’t huddled in a ball of anxiety about the very fabric of women’s rights in the US being stripped away, no sir.
On that note, there is a lot going on in the audio world in response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Podcasters are organizing, Slate is doing a stunt campaign in areas where abortion is now restricted, and Howard Stern is running for president, maybe.
But first, a very special Hot Pod announcement (elegant transition, right?)
Hot Pod Summit goes Hollywood
Big news: we’re bringing Hot Pod Summit to Los Angeles. On November 3rd at KCRW, we’ll have a day of conversations about how the podcasting industry is being shaped by West Coast tech giants and becoming increasingly entwined with legacy Hollywood institutions. The summit is being held in collaboration with work x work and On Air Fest LA, which runs from November 3rd to 5th, and is being co-presented by KCRW. I am excited to nerd out on audio, meet some of you guys IRL, and, dare I say, get a little tan?
We’ll keep you posted on the lineup and other details as they become available. Hope to see you there!
Podcasters organize pre-roll campaign for abortion rights
In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, dozens of podcasters are banding together to record and place pre-roll messages advocating for abortion rights. Started by EarBuds Podcast Collective founder Arielle Nissenblatt, the campaign has managed to get some big shows on board, including My Favorite Murder and Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.
Nissenblatt collaborated with writers and producers to come up with different script templates to fit different hosts’ needs (30-second vs. 60-second, US-based vs. international) and compiled links to abortion resources that podcasters could put in their show notes. The campaign also enlisted voice actor and podcaster Matt Cundill to record several different versions that shows can place if they do not want to record it themselves.
When the decision was announced, “my first thought was, like, how will podcasters want to uniquely react to this?” Nissenblatt told Hot Pod. “They can offer resources, they can offer support, they can spread the message, and we can come at it from a unified place.”
So far, at least three dozen shows have participated in the campaign. Nissenblatt says that Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark from My Favorite Murder jumping on board did a lot to encourage other podcasters to do the same. Other big names that have expressed interest in joining include Alex Steed from You Are Good and Jamie Loftus and Caitlin Durante from The Bechdel Cast.
Slate erects billboards promoting Slow Burn in states with trigger laws
Slate is launching a provocative new campaign to promote its latest season of Slow Burn, which tells the story of Shirley Wheeler, the first woman convicted of manslaughter for getting an abortion. The outlet has placed billboards in states that now have some of the strictest abortion laws in the country urging passersby to “Defend Shirley Wheeler.”
The campaign’s URL, defendshirleywheeler.com, redirects to Slow Burn’s show page. The billboards have been placed in Jackson, Mississippi; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Phoenix, Arizona; Boise, Idaho; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Daytona Beach, Florida, where Wheeler lived when she got her abortion. It’s a smart (if dystopian!!) campaign that should grab attention in those areas, for better or worse.
Howard Stern 4 Prez
Because there hasn’t been enough chaos in the past week, radio star Howard Stern has responded to the abortion ruling by saying he will really, actually probably run for president in 2024. “If I do run for president, and I’m not fucking around, I’m really thinking about it,” he said on his SiriusXM show Monday, “as soon as I become president, you’re gonna get five new Supreme Court justices that are going to overturn all this bullshit.”
Another pillar of the Stern platform: “one vote, one person, no more of this Electoral College, I’m getting rid of it.” That would be nice, if legally impossible.
If he did step into the fray, it wouldn’t be Stern’s first attempt at running for office. He ran for governor of New York in 1994 until he dropped out because he refused to disclose his personal finances. He may not have Mike Bloomberg money, but bringing in $85 million a year, Stern has plenty of cash to play with if he wanted to run (or at least do some kind of stunt campaign). Either way, President Biden is not likely to be pleased.
SCOTUS won’t rewrite defamation law (but they say a lot of things!!!)
On Monday, the Supreme Court turned down a petition to hear a case in which an evangelical Christian ministry accused the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of falsely calling it an anti-LGBTQ hate group. If they had taken it up, writes my Verge colleague Adi Robertson, it would have opened the window for the court to make it easier for public figures to win libel cases against media outlets.
By not taking up the case, SCOTUS is leaving the “actual malice” standard from the 1964 New York Times Co. v. Sullivan case in place, which found that public figures need to show that a false statement was made knowingly or with reckless disregard for its truth in order to prove defamation. Podcasters and publishers in the US are also covered by this protection.
Justice Clarence Thomas, who doesn’t have much regard for precedent, wrote a dissent saying that the “actual malice” standard should be revisited. “This case is one of many showing how [NYT v. Sullivan] and its progeny have allowed media organizations and interest groups ‘to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity.’” In this particular instance, he seems to be the only person on the court of that opinion. But as Robertson notes, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Elena Kagan have taken issue with the “actual malice” standard in the past, so this may not be the last we hear on the libel issue.
Pushkin Industries also goes Hollywood
Malcolm Gladwell’s audio company, Pushkin Industries, has cut a first-look deal with independent studio A24, Bloomberg reports. The deal will allow A24 to have the first crack at Pushkin’s audio properties, which include hit podcast Revisionist History.
The first project A24 will develop as part of the deal will be a documentary series based on Gladwell’s most recent book, The Bomber Mafia. The deal will also pay for Pushkin to get a development executive. The company has hired Meghna Rao from Topic Studios to fill the role.
The Black Effect Podcast Festival is coming to Brooklyn this summer
iHeartMedia and Charlamagne Tha God will host the first Black Effect Podcast Festival this summer, featuring live tapings of some of the network’s biggest shows, like The 85 South Show and All The Smoke. The festival will be held at The Brooklyn Mirage at Avant Gardner.
The Black Effect Podcast Network is a collaboration between iHeart and its biggest star, The Breakfast Club co-host Charlamagne Tha God. “The Black Effect Podcast Network was created to amplify Black voices for new and established content creators and storytellers,” he said in a statement. “I’m excited to celebrate the first-ever Black Effect Podcast Festival, where talented Black creators and aspiring podcasters will come together for a day to uplift and inspire one another.”
The festival will take place on August 28th, and tickets will go on sale on July 6th.
That’s all for today! I’ll be out next Tuesday, thanks to Vox Media’s extremely lit four-day July 4th weekend, so I’ll be back in your inbox on July 12th.