Art by Federica Bordoni

Listen Up

Audio journalists finding new ways to produce, distribute, and monetize their work

October 16, 2023

This year, after nearly a decade of uninterrupted growth, podcasts hit a ceiling. Ad dollars stopped pouring in. Companies made cuts: Spotify absorbed Gimlet and laid off two hundred of its employees. Sirius XM eliminated nearly five hundred jobs. Malcolm Gladwell’s podcasting company, Pushkin Industries, laid off more than a third of its staff. Narrative nonfiction podcasts (costly to produce, difficult to monetize) were impacted the most. Many declared that the audio bubble had burst. Yet others have committed themselves to rethinking their business—and, in fact, podcast audiences are still growing. “The needs of listeners are as strong as ever,” George Lavender, an executive at a podcast network called Wondery, said. From Maximum Fun, which went co-op this spring, to local newsrooms with shows in development, audio journalists are finding ways forward.

Emily Russell was a CJR fellow, and is now an editor at The Week.