In the latest indication that Apple aims to do more with its podcast business, the company has just recruited an industry veteran to lead the marketing and public relations efforts for Apple Podcasts. Zach Kahn, who has been Senior Manager of Podcast Marketing for Vox Media, is making the move to Cupertino, CA. Apple confirmed the hire to Variety but declined to discuss its podcast plans. In a Twitter post Kahn said he would depart New York-based Vox Media at year-end, calling his decision to leave after years “bittersweet” and linking to the job listing as Vox looks for his replacement. Kahn earlier worked at Google, Nest and Uber.
It is the second podcast hire of note for Apple in recent weeks. It has also recruited Emily Ochsenschlager to join its team as a podcast producer. She previously was an audio content producer for National Geographic and NPR in Washington.
Just what Apple has planned for podcasting is one of the things that’s kept the industry buzzing for months as there were growing indications that it no longer was satisfied with just being the pipe by which other companies’ content was being delivered. Bloomberg reported in July that Apple had reached out to executives at several media companies, expressing an interest in buying exclusive rights to podcasts.
Apple rethinking its strategy seems as much a defensive move as anything else. Other streaming services, including iHeartRadio, Pandora, Stitcher and Spotify, have been making inroads on Apple’s more than a decade of dominating podcast consumption. Those rivals have begun to shave off share from what had been the roughly 60% of listening that the Apple Podcast app had a year ago.
During the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June it announced that it would launch a dedicated desktop app for Apple Podcasts as it began to wind-down iTunes for some users of iOS devices. Apple also announced it would begin using its technology to help tackle the growing issue of how to help listeners find their way through what are now more than 800,000 podcasts on Apple Podcasts. Apple also sent a signal that it is paying more attention to podcasts when, after years of essentially listing the same shows on its “What’s Hot” and “New & Noteworthy” tallies, the two features sprang back to life in May.