Has Spotify just changed podcasting forever? – podcasts of the week

In a game-changing move, the streaming giant just bought Homecoming creators Gimlet. Plus: the pod going behind the scenes at the Mueller probe

Talking points

In what is comfortably the biggest deal in the history of podcasting to date, streaming giant Spotify has bought Gimlet Media, the company behind series such as Homecoming and Reply All, in a deal said to have cost the company $230m. It’s being seen as a game-changing statement of intent from Spotify, which is looking to divert more of its focus away from the competitive world of music streaming, and into the growth industry of podcasts. It’s not done, either: it has also acquired self-publishing podcast firm Anchor and say it has plans to spend a further $500m on podcast acquisitions in the near future. More broadly, it’s being suggested that the deal might just be regarded as the moment podcasting truly evolved from a cottage industry to a global money-maker.

Elswhere, HBO has released the first trailer for its documentary series follow-up to the smash-hit first season of Serial. Directed by Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil), The Case Against Adnan Syed will look at the appeals cases for Syed, who was convicted of killing ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999.

If somehow you don’t have enough US political podcasts in your life, ABC News have just announced The Investigation. The weekly series will offer a behind-the-scenes look at special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Picks of the week

Homo Sapiens hosts Will Young and Chris Sweeney.
A masterclass in easy rapport ... Homo Sapiens hosts Will Young and Chris Sweeney. Photograph: Laura Lewis

Homo Sapiens
Will Young and Chris Sweeney’s podcast is back for a third series, with the charismatic hosts having what sounds like the world’s best road trip across the US to meet guests including Sam Smith and Troye Sivan. The interviews are a masterclass in easy rapport, but some of the best nuggets come out in the preliminary ramble. One minute Young is chewing a toffee, the next he’s giving a very thoughtful explanation of why he had to call out The Grand Tour for its retro homophobia. HV

Public Official A
Not to be confused with Individual 1, the code name for a certain Oval Office inhabitant currently being investigated by the FBI, the Public Official A here refers to former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was caught on a wiretap offering to sell on the senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became president. Currently serving a 14-year prison sentence for his crimes, Blagojevich is now seeking a pardon from Donald Trump himself. This podcast from This American Life producer WBEZ recalls the whole grubby tale in vivid detail. Gwilym Mumford

Guardian pick: Science Weekly

The magnetic north is on the move …
The magnetic north is on the move … Photograph: Jose Luis Stephens/Alamy Stock Photo

There are some things in life that, thankfully, are rooted to the same spot. Things like, say, the north pole. As it turns out, though, it might be more movable than one would like think – at least with regards to Earth’s magnetic north.

In this week’s episode of Science Weekly, Ian Sample delves into navigational history and looks at the origins of our cardinal directions – north, south, east and west. And with the recent announcement that our magnetic north is on the move, the episode also explores what has led to this movement and how the latest walkabout might affect us direction-dependent humans.

Producer pick: The DreamWanna Swim in Cash?

Chosen by Max Sanderson (lead producer, Audio)

The Dream Podcast

As a producer, listening to podcasts can be difficult. After a day of wearing headphones, editing and sound designing, often the last thing you want to do is, well, listen. But there are other reasons that it can be a frustrating endeavour. Sometimes, it’s because you feel the producer(s) responsible didn’t do the subject justice. At other times – and this is quite possibly the worst kind of frustration – it’s because you’re left with the feeling of: “Why the hell didn’t I think of that?”

Thankfully, with The Dream, it’s very much the latter. Brought to us by the good people at Stitcher, the series invites us into the world of pyramid schemes and multi-level marketing with its opening episode, Wanna Swim in Cash?.

Produced and presented by the Peabody-winning Jane Marie (formerly of This American Life), the series plays with the usual investigative-doc format as Marie injects elements of her own life – including a trip home to Michigan and some difficult conversations with family members. The result is a very gripping and a very human take on something that, due to the damage it can cause, we should all know much more about.


Gwilym Mumford, Hannah Verdier and Max Sanderson

The GuardianTramp

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