Vulture names “A Cast of Kings” as one of the top 5 Game of Thrones podcasts

I’m honored that Vulture recently chose “A Cast of Kings” as one of the top 5 Game of Thrones podcasts:

Dave Chen is a prolific publisher of podcasts about film and TV going back years, perhaps most prominently as the co-host of the Slashfilmcast. Here, he partners with frequent collaborator Joanna Robinson, with whom he’s also done recap pods for Westworld and Twin Peaks. Chen is an interesting recapper, more technically driven in his approach than others, which pairs nicely with Joanna Robinson, who is one of the more prominent, engaging, and prolific Thrones recappers on the internet.

You can listen to our recaps of this season here.

What’s it like to podcast for a living?

I was honored to be asked by the folks at Bald Move to interview them as part of their Empire Business show. For those who don’t know, Bald Move are a couple of podcasters, A. Ron and Jim, who create some of the most frequently-downloaded TV recap podcasts in the country right now.

Over the course of one hour, we discussed how they got into podcasting, when/how they decided to give it a go full-time, what they gave up while doing so, and what advice they’d have for new podcasters.

It was a fun conversation and I’d recommend you check it out here on Periscope.

How SoundCloud lost its way

Dani Deahl and Casey Newton, writing for The Verge:

SoundCloud experimented with a variety of business models, including content-related ads and charging the creators for premium accounts that host more audio. But much of the audio uploaded to its servers contained derivative copyrighted material: DJ sets, mashups, and unofficial remixes using songs the SoundCloud artists didn’t have rights to. As those tracks racked up millions of views, record labels pressured the company to crack down. While the company worked to develop its paid platform, the service began to fray around the edges. SoundCloud’s increasingly confusing system of paid tiers caused contention for creators and their teams: unwarranted song takedowns ruined PR for new releases, labels pulled music off SoundCloud against artists’ will, and those who had helped make SoundCloud a force from the beginning now found it had simply stopped paying attention to their needs.

What’s happening to SoundCloud is sad. What was once a great platform for discovery and creativity is a confusing mess to use and is in danger of shutting down. For my part, I am freaked and will be attempting to move my SoundCloud podcasts off the platform as soon as possible.

The Ghosts of Westeros Panel at Con of Thrones

I recently experienced one of the greatest joys of my life as a pop culture commentator: moderating the “Ghosts of Westeros” panel at Con of Thrones with my Cast of Kings co-host Joanna Robinson. It was a blast to spend time with these amazing actors, who been invaluable to building a show that has become such a huge success over the past 7 years.

As the event was about to begin and we walking onto the stage, looking upon thousands of fans in the audience, I acutely felt what an immense honor it has been to be part of people’s lives during the course of this show.

You can listen to the panel below. Subscribe to A Cast of Kings on Apple Podcasts here.

Here are a few write-ups of the Con worth checking out:

Meeting Joanna

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I’ve been podcasting with Joanna Robinson for about six years. This past weekend, we met in person for the very first time.

It was about six years ago that Joanna first pitched me the idea of doing a recap podcast about Game of Thrones. I was unsure whether this would be a good idea — I didn’t know that much about the world of the show and I’d never done a TV podcast before. But I trusted in Joanna to guide the way.

So we decided to give it a shot, and we launched A Cast Of Kings. We entered a crowded field that already had DOZENS of other Game of Thrones podcasts.

Fast forward to present day. A Cast of Kings is the most successful podcast I’ve ever had a part in, generating over 5 million downloads, with hundreds of thousands of fans from all around the world. Moreover, Joanna’s star has risen dramatically in the intervening years, as she’s become one of the most respected and widely read Game of Thrones writers on the internet. It’s been an honor to work with her during
this ascension.

Despite this, Joanna and I had never met in person before. But yesterday, at a Podcaster Meet And Greet at #ConOfThrones, surrounded by many fans of the show we created together, we finally had the chance. This photo commemorates the occasion (thanks to Jim from Bald Move for taking it).

The internet can be magic, if you will it to be. All it takes is the willingness to take chances with people and a passion for what you do.

And persistence. A lot of persistence.

Season finale

After a multi-year absence, Stephen Tobolowsky and I re-united to put out another 12-episode season of The Tobolowsky Files over the course of the past few months. While we will have more projects together, they will be somewhat infrequent until the next season of the show, likely not coming until 2018.

After publishing the last episode this year, Stephen emailed me and said, “We did it, David. Congrats. It was tough with the book tour and the travel and no internet and no time…but we did something good.”

As I’ve started refocusing on what is important in my life, I’ve realized that this has been my only goal with The Tobolowsky Files: to make something good. It is of paramount importance, beyond ad dollars or listenership numbers. It’s rare to be able to be involved with something whose quality you can believe in. This season of stories, which in my opinion represents some of Stephen’s best work, fits that bill for me.

Here’s a link to the season finale. If you like that episode, you can also subscribe to the show in Apple Podcasts or via RSS.

Analytics are coming to Apple Podcasts

iTunes Podcasts recently rebranded as Apple Podcasts, a small indication that Apple is starting to take the podcast game more seriously. Then this week, during a podcast session at WWDC, Apple announced they are going to be allowing access to information about listening behavior that occurs through the Podcasts app.

Peter Kafka, writing for recode:

A new version of Apple’s podcast app will provide basic analytics to podcast creators, giving them the ability to see when podcast listeners play individual episodes, and — crucially — what part of individual episodes they listen to, which parts they skip over, and when they bail out of an episode.

The reason all of that is important is that up until now, Apple has provided almost no data at all about podcast listening behavior — just the fact that someone has downloaded an individual episode.

And since Apple’s Podcast app accounts for the majority of podcast consumption, that means podcast creators — and podcast advertisers — have almost no idea how people are interacting with podcasts. They’ve been creating — and paying for — this stuff in the dark with almost no feedback.

Lots of people are saying this is going to be a huge deal. I agree that Apple offering basic analytics is give people a level of information and detail they’ve never had before.

I don’t quite believe it’s going to make an enormous difference for the vast majority of podcasts, such as those that I host. Here’s why:

Increasing fragmentation – With Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher now carrying podcasts (not to mention other iOS apps like Overcast and Downcast), the way people consume podcasts often doesn’t even involve Apple’s Podcasts app. While I’m sure the majority of listening still happens on the Podcasts app, anecdotally I feel like the listening on other platforms is also substantial, based on all the requests I get to add my shows to them.

We already kind of know how effective ads are  Advertisers have are using promo codes for quite some time, so they can track when you buy something using a specific show’s code. This isn’t the same as knowing whether users are skipping over their ads but in some ways it’s even better since this information, coupled with aggregate listening data, already allows companies to measure advertising effectiveness.


All that being said, I’m really interested to delve into the stats when they become available.

What’s going on with The Ones Who Knock podcast

For several years, Joanna Robinson and I hosted a podcast about Breaking Bad called “The Ones Who Knock.” This was one of our first popular recap podcasts together and led to many memorable moments like future-Star Wars director Rian Johnson doing a commentary with us on “Ozymandias“, one of the best episodes of TV ever produced.

Awhile after the Breaking Bad series finale, we converted this podcast into a Better Call Saul recap podcast. However, listenership fell off a cliff and pretty much never recovered.

Simultaneously, we’ve been putting a lot of time and energy into Gen Pop, a new podcast that is funded by listeners through Patreon and which features interesting conversations with awesome people about pop culture.

We’ve been getting a lot of requests to re-start The Ones Who Knock but ultimately the numbers are not there to justify us to bring it back as a full-fledged show. Instead, we are going to be doing a sort of “The Ones Who Knock” lite by posting podcast recaps every two weeks as bonus audio episodes on the Gen Pop Patreon feed. We’ll also likely do a full season recap that’s released publicly on the Gen Pop feed. So, to recap:

  • All Patrons at the rate of $2/month will have access to the bonus episodes. 
  • All subscribers to the Gen Pop podcast [iTunes link] will have access to the season recap we will do after season 3 has aired.

I know this is not what a lot of “The Ones Who Knock” fans wanted, but it lets us put time and resources into a show that is a longer term investment for us, while making sure our hardcore fans are served. Thanks for your understanding and listenership.