Dec 9, 2022

Hello friends, it’s Jay filling in for Michal. I’m continuing her tradition of writing the newsletter from around the world.

I’m currently at my parents’ in Cumbria in the UK, which means my desk looks like this:

Using my old Pioneer digital turntables as an audio interface with a handheld SM58, like a cheeseball wedding DJ.

How Spotify turned podcasts into cable TV

As well as being an audio producer, I’m a huge fan of sci-fi. Dialogue heavy sci-fi that uses the freedom of the genre to explore difficult concepts is my jam, so when I saw that Spotify had released Case 63 I devoured it in one day.


Case 63 is an audio drama starring Julianne Moore as a psychiatrist and Oscar Isaac, who plays someone who is either a mental health patient, or a time traveler, depending on whether you believe him. It’s a Gimlet produced Spotify original with big name actors, sharp scripting, and evocative sound design.

I’m not writing about it just to recommend you listen though, I’m writing this because Gimlet has turned podcasts into cable TV.


The whole season is about 1 hour 45 minutes long, but it's split into 10 episodes of 10 to 15 minutes. At the end of each episode you get a commercial break of about two minutes, and at the start of each episode you get a commercial break of about two minutes. If you listen to it all in one go like I did (and you’ll want to, it’s one continuous story) then the effect is similar to watching a movie broken up with ad breaks.


The ads are dynamically inserted by Spotfy, rather than baked into the audio file.

I have paid for Spotify premium specifically to avoid adverts for ten years, so when this popped up I had to go check that my subscription was still active because I was not expecting it at all.

So now I’m paying a subscription to a service to consume content and also being served an absolute bucketload of ads every 10 to 15 minutes. It’s cable TV.


Katie Jensen even pointed out to me there are pieces of sound design that serve no purpose except to provide a space for even more commercial break, should they want to insert them.


Case 63 is adapted from the original Spanish language show Caso 63, produced by Chilean production house Emisor Podcasting, also for Spotify. I listened to this version too and there are no ad breaks. I even used a VPN to spoof my location to Mexico to see if they just hadn’t sold the slots. The ad-friendly sound design is also absent in the original.


I can’t help but think the English Case 63 is an experiment to see just how much ad time audiences will tolerate.

No doubt this was an expensive show to produce, I can’t imagine an actor who played major roles in Star Wars and an Oscar winner were cheap hires, but I feel pretty ripped off by my Spotify subscription right now. 


When I was messing around with my VPN though I realised I could just spoof my location to a country where they haven’t sold ad spots and avoid the ads altogether. So, my podcast recommendation for this newsletter is Case 63 streamed via Germany.

Here's what else caught our eye this week: 

This article in the Toronto Star on how public health nurses’ work has been sidelined by the pandemic was written by the host of one of Vocal Fry’s shows, Stories from the Field, and Maureen even gives the show a little shout out at the bottom!

More layoffs at Buzzfeed:

… to which our friend and fry max responded ... 

Holiday fun! On the internet! The Sonar Network will be celebrating its five-year anniversary next Sunday, December 11, with a TWELVE (12) hour comedy livestream! It’ll be streaming on their YouTube channel from 12 p.m. to midnight, and you can check out the lineup on their Instagram

We also had some errr… strongly felt responses to the blog Jess Schmidt wrote for us about AI transcript based editing software Descript. If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to go share in our ongoing frustration at one company’s determination to make their product worse. Feel free to send us your own responses, too. Perhaps if we collect enough complaints, Descript might listen. One response did suggest a petition…

tweet of the week

jobs hot from the fryer

Rogers-owned Pacific Content are hiring a couple of roles, including a showrunner and a producer on a 12 month contract. They encourage applicants from across Canada to apply as they offer remote work.


Branded podcast agency JAR Audio are hiring an audience growth manager, starting salary of $50k. It’s not exactly “buy a house in Toronto” money, but the company offers unlimited vacation, flexible working hours and remote working.


This is a really interesting call-out from Snap Judgment. They’re looking for freelance story scouts for their paranormal podcast Spooked. They don’t list Canada as one of the locations they’re interested in, but they do mention Indigenous communities, so if you live in one of those and you’re feeling spooky… go apply! They offer a $1,500 USD monthly retainer and $300 per successful pitch. Closing date is January 8, 2023. 


The Walrus is hiring a managing editor. That’s a really senior job, so I was a little surprised to see the salary range at $75-85k. But perhaps if you’re looking to step up and into a leadership position, this could be you. Apply by December 16. 


The CBC’s daily podcast Front Burner is hiring two producers, one part-time permanent and one full time contract. Apply by December 23. 


Morning people in Alberta: there’s one year contract associate producer position at CBC Edmonton, starting work at 7 a.m. Apply by December 28. 


Or if you’re a little further east, there’s a full time permanent reporter/editor position at CBC Saskatoon, with weekend working as part of the regular shift pattern. Deadline is January 18, 2023. 


If you like pictures with your sounds then the CBC are hiring a producer for The Rundown on CBC News Network in Toronto. Apply by December 21. 

hey freelancer!

I’m sure you’ve seen Vulture’s best podcasts of 2022 list (featuring a show our max collins made with Kelly & Kelly/CBC! Congrats max!). Ever wonder if your show can make it onto a list like that? Well, why not try pitching to the best of lists? Here’s a piece by Shreya Sharma and Lauren Passell on how to do that.

Multitude Production are offering affordable podcasting classes at $145 for each four week course. They’re held on Zoom, and considering how expensive courses offered on the AIR Media site are… this feels like a pretty good deal.

what we're listening to

Case 63, in case you hadn’t noticed.

what's happening at vocal fry

Last Friday was Women’s Brain Health Day, and we make Playing With Marbles, a show about brains hosted by our fearless leader Katie Jensen, so we experimented with some influencer marketing.

Check this Reel out from Science Bae to find out what “bikini medicine” is. And if that sounds interesting to you, go check out our show! We’re in the early stages of making season three right now, but season two is all about one woman’s brain.

Forward to a friend

We want to hear from you! What are you looking for in your podcast news? Let us know on Twitter, Instagram, or by email at

Thanks to Emily Latimer for editing this newsletter, and to Katie Jensen for designing it.

We’ll see you again on December 16. Until then, here’s Fraser. He kept me company while I wrote this.

Yours in friends and fries,

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