Podcast company

Insider and Axel Springer back new podcast company Spooler

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Insider and its parent company, German publishing giant Axel Springer, are investing in a new podcast company called Spooler, Insider CEO Henry Blodget told Axios. Spooler will co-produce a new podcast with Insider called “The Refresh from Insider” using proprietary technology that makes it easier for producers to update podcast content with new segments after it is released.

The big picture: The new company will be the first of several joint investments from a new fund called “Axel Springer Insider Ventures” (ASIV) which focuses on media innovation.

  • “We are likely to help start several new startups that will focus on different aspects of innovation in journalism,” Blodget said. “And this is the first, but there will likely be others and we will invest both capital in them and give them operating advice and strategic partners.”

Spooler is an original idea from Blodget and podcast industry veterans Andy Bowers, co-founder of Slate Audio and Megaphone and James Boggs, former head of podcasts at Apple. Spooler’s investors include its founders, as well as Axel Springer Insider Ventures.

  • Boggs will serve as general manager and Bowers as creative director. Blodget, co-founder, sits on the board of Spooler. The initial financing of the ASIV is a funding round.
  • Blodget says they decided it would be best to form a separate company to build the platform, but Insider will work closely with Spooler on its own podcasts.

Details: The Insider update will be a daily audio news brief that is updated throughout the day to keep pace with the news cycle.

  • The show, available weekday mornings, will be hosted by former WNYC host and producer Rebeca Ibarra and Insider reporter and editor Dave Smith. Kerry Donahue will serve as the show’s executive producer.
  • It will be available on Google, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts, or on demand on the Insider app and website. The player will allow listeners to skip segments and select upcoming segments they want to hear, Bowers said.

How it works: The show will be powered by new technology, created by the team of Bowers, Boggs and Spooler, which stitches together podcast episodes in real time from individually produced audio segments.

  • Podcasts can be distributed by podcast players and on-demand apps, but will give users the ability to listen to the most recent versions of episodes.

  • For news companies, it’s expected that producers can create “playlist schedules” that Spooler automatically assembles to make the podcast sound seamless, even if it’s updated repeatedly.
  • The bespoke player on Insider.com and the Insider app will allow users to skip segments they’ve heard before.
  • “We see this as a technology that could help news organizations at the enterprise level, and we could even see it move to individual creators,” Bowers said. Referring to the rise of individual journalists as creators, he noted. “this could be an interesting way to keep people up to date on a subject they know well.”

At the end of the line : “There’s a big hole in audio programming, which is real-time information and other programming-generated playlists,” Blodget says. “Currently we can’t do that with the podcast infrastructure because of its episodic nature.”

What to watch: Boggs says the company will start by working with different media companies, but in the future he thinks Spooler’s technology could be used in a range of industries, including training and corporate communications.

  • Bowers noted that this kind of technology could give podcasts better penetration on smart speakers and in cars, where people often search for up-to-date information via voice commands.