The Reply All Fiasco & 4 New Shows to Peep – Smart Passive Income

By Sara Jane Hess and David Grabowski

Howdy, podcasty friends! It’s David and SJ again, here to give you the rundown on A) what’s happening in the world of podcasting, including the Reply All fiasco, and how it might affect you and B) four shows we think entrepreneurs should have in their queue.

If you missed our last roundup, we are the SPI Podcasts Team: Sara Jane Hess (Senior Producer) and David Grabowski (Producer). We wade neck-deep in podcast land every week—producing Pat’s shows (and some super exciting behind-the-curtain stuff that we’re not allowed to announce publicly yet)—and we freakin’ love it. All that to say: trust us … you can trust us.

Anyway …

4 No-Hesitation Podcast Recs

Business Schooled (Synchrony)

Business Schooled is a gem that seems to have flown under quite a few radars. The premise is simple and unique: send a well-known young entrepreneur on the road to learn business lessons from those who’ve found success and document it all. Season 1’s host is Alexis Ohanian—who you may recognize as cofounder and executive chairman of Reddit. His inquisitive road trip includes visits to a successful quilting company, worldwide music retailer Sweetwater, and a sixty-something with a PhD in social welfare who reinvented the travel bag industry—and that’s just scratching the surface. Season 2 gets a new host, Soraya Darabi, founder of early-stage investment firm TMV, and continues along the same lines. There’s a ton to be learned through Alexis’s and Soraya’s lens, so don’t miss this one!

Recommended episode: “Practicing joy (and medicine)

Second Life (Second Life)

Career pivots can be a scary thing, but Second Life embraces the change and empowers people—specifically women—to meet the challenge head-on. Created by Who What Wear co-founder Hillary Kerr, Second Life peels back the layers of success with its guests, who range from high-profile actresses and founders like Reese Witherspoon, to models, journalists, media creators, bestselling authors, CEOs, and more. There’s a diverse wealth of inspiration to be had with this one.

Recommended episode: “Lilly Singh: YouTube Creator, Actor, Producer, Best-Selling Author, and Host of A Little Late with Lilly Sing‪h [explicit]

Clients From Hell Podcast (Bryce Bladon)

Clients From Hell Podcast might ring a bell; that’s because it’s a spinoff of the uber-popular, extremely funny Tumblr blog of the same name. Host Bryce Bladon has over twelve years of experience as a creative professional, working with megaliths like the Canadian Government and the New York Times to shape the future of technology and ideas. On CFHP, Bladon explores the future of the self-employed with a fascinating, rotating panel of guests and topics: freelancing, consulting, crowdfunding, project management. It’s a potent blend of humor and insight—best served with a short drive and a hot beverage.

Recommended episode: “Hard sell your soft skills: Alison Grade of The Freelance Bibl‪e

Wellpreneur (Wellpreneur)

Okay, this one’s a little bit niche, but it’s probably one of the most important niches out there right now: wellness entrepreneurship. From meditation, mindfulness, and yoga to nutrition, skincare, and more, wellness professionals are more critical than ever. Wellpreneur is an invaluable resource: over 230 episodes geared toward entrepreneurs in the wellness space. Content marketing, website creation, growth strategies—this show has a little bit of everything to help the businesses that help us thrive, thrive.

Recommended episode: “Start Your Wellness Business – Step by Step!

Reply All and the Ripple of Reckonings

It’s been a very busy few weeks in the podcast world, and there are several stories we want to hit on—but we need to start with the biggie first.

It’s hard to write anything about podcasting right now and not talk about Reply All. It’s a story that’s reverberating around the podcast realm and even intriguing people outside of it. (A friend of SJ’s who works in the corporate coffee world and isn’t particularly interested in podcasts reached out the other day with, “What’s happening with this podcast called Reply All?”) 

There are many excellent articles that cover what happened (and is still happening) in detail, so we won’t rehash everything, but the TL;DR is this:

In early February, Reply All kicked off a series called “The Test Kitchen” that focused on the cosmic reckoning of Bon Appétit’s wildly popular “Test Kitchen” YouTube videos. Accusations of racism and unequal pay, especially for employees of color, came to light, sending the Test Kitchen, the Bon Appétit team, and Condé Nast (rightly) into a tailspin. Reply All set out to cover that story, only to have the same accusations leveled at their own team culture by multiple former employees who told stories of being passed over for full-time positions and leadership actively working against efforts to form a union that would ensure greater equality.

Needless to say, former employees found the new series hypocritical. Within days, one of the cohosts and a producer, both of whom had been accused of racism and working to block the union, left the show, and the remaining episodes of “The Test Kitchen” were shelved. 

The story goes much deeper, so we encourage you to educate yourselves via the numerous accounts from former employees and the introspection being done by podcasters across the industry. Reply All is Gimlet’s largest show, and Gimlet is a considerable chunk of Spotify’s podcast properties, so ideally there will be a lot of wrestling with this subject on a large scale. While the staff of Reply All has released a statement, there has been no such messaging from Spotify itself.

As the SPI Podcasts team, we see the situation as a disappointment and a challenge. A disappointment because we’ve been fans of Reply All for years and aspire to make shows of the same caliber, and also because the actions taken by members of that team were and are clearly wrong. Reply All‘s current chaos should be a lesson for us all (albeit not a new lesson): creating equitable and diverse cultures and stories requires constant vigilance, reflection, and listening to and including voices other than our own, especially for teams that skew white, like Reply All’s—and like ours. We are challenged to move forward with humility and a need to seek out perspectives beyond our own. We can all work to do and be better.

Other Podcasting News: Apple Comes Through, and the Boss & the Prez Fall Flat

Now for a couple lighter quick hits to call out:

Last month we predicted that when Apple releases more original podcast content, it will be in support of its Apple TV+ offerings, and what do you know—that prediction came true! About a week after our February post, Apple announced it would release a companion podcast to its show For All Mankind, which launched its second season on February 19. Plan for more to come. (“Please give us a Ted Lasso podcast,” Sara Jane quietly whispers to Siri, who pretends to know nothing by giving the weather report for El Paso.)

Lastly, the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions released its second Spotify exclusive podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA, which features conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. It’s … kind of weird. Not to say it’s bad or not interesting, but it feels like an odd coupling and format for the conversations and topics they get into. We don’t doubt that each of them loves their country and wants to solve the challenges America faces, but at moments it feels forced and a bit hollow. Or just a reason to play “Born in the USA” one. more. time. Oy.

That’s all for now—these podcasts aren’t going to produce themselves. Until next time, this is Sara Jane and David signing off!

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