It’s safe to say there is a podcast for just about anything. Sports? Every single one. Daily news? Got it. Gardening? Huge. Middle-aged hypebeasts into “jawnz”?
Nick Quah has been covering pods of all stripes for most of the past decade. His reviews and columns appear in Vulture, and he’s been publishing his Hot Pod newsletter on the business behind the medium since 2014.
Now, you guessed it, he’s launching a podcast of his own.
Given his pedigree, it makes sense that Quah’s pod is covering the business and culture of podcasting.
“I’m building it as a vehicle to more or less function like a travel show,” says Quah. “It’s to serve as a community hub for those in the podcast community, but also for casual consumers or those interested in checking some out but aren’t sure what’s going on. This would be their guide into this world. When I was thinking about episode concepts and general approach, I really am trying to cop ideas from travel shows in how to communicate this world to outside people.”
Servant of Pod with Nick Quah debuts today, and listeners can expect Quah to chat industry news and dive deep into the process of podcasting with established and up-and-coming producers, executives, and operators shaping the burgeoning industry, and everyone in between, from composers to editors. The new podcast is produced and distributed by LAist Studios, the podcast arm of Southern California Public Radio.
Quah says the partnership reflects one major trend in podcasting.
“It fits into my thesis or theory that this industry is moving westward toward Hollywood,” says Quah. “I thought LAist would be an interesting place to start because it’s a public-radio station, or public-radio-affiliated, and also because they’re starting from scratch.”
For specific inspiration, Quah looked to podcasts like Elvis Mitchell’s The Treatment, Sean Fennessey’s The Big Picture at the Ringer, and Kim Masters’s The Business, produced by the public-radio station KCRW. “I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here,” he says. “I’m appropriating the wheel for other purposes.”
Since his new pod sines a light on the ebb and flow of the pod world, Quah indulged my request to answer a few lightning-round questions about the hottest topics in the industry.
Joe Rogan to Spotify: Good or bad? “It’s good and bad,” Quah says. “I think it’s too early to tell, but my instinct here is to think conservatively. I like the way the community is structurally formed, but I understand its limitations. So I see it as a neutral change. I certainly don’t think it’s 100% good.”
Spotify acquiring Bill Simmons and the Ringer? “Depends on the beholder. As a consumer, I’m really interested in what Spotify will do for the Ringer,” he says. “I always had a sense it was a business with the potential to be much bigger than it was. It’s now the difference between taking three years to see what that looks like instead of 10. I don’t see any downsides unless they start pulling exclusivity really aggressively.”
Too many true-crime podcasts? “Uhh . . . it’s a politically sensitive question. I’ll say I’m always pro podcast. Anyone who wants to make one should go for it. I do think there are too many morally and ethically irresponsible true-crime podcasts.”
Finally, how will having a podcast make you better at your coverage of podcasting? “One thing I’ll say is that part of my thinking in starting this project is to really exercise my empathy and humility,” Quah says. “If I look back and read old articles I wrote or old issues of Hot Pod, just the utter lack of respect I had for how hard this process is, is indicative of how far I had to go on this journey. So part of what I want to feel in my bones is just how hard this is, and I do think it’ll make me a better podcast critic, and as someone who covers the podcast business, I’m excited to see where that takes me.”
You can listen to the first episode here, or download it everywhere you find podcasts.