Podcast News Bites 220

...NPR’s morning news podcast Up First – the third-biggest series in August according to Podtrac – is losing one of its co-hosts. Lulu Garcia-Navarro has announced she is leaving the network at the end of October. “It is time to say goodbye. Like much of the U.S., I need a break,” she wrote on Twitter. In addition to Up First, Garcia-Navarro hosts the Sunday edition of NPR’s “Weekend Edition-Sunday” radio program. Her last day on the air will be Oct. 17. Garcia-Navarro previously worked as an international correspondent for NPR, working in Mexico, Brazil, and the Middle East. Up First is also hosted by Scott Simon, the host of NPR “Weekend Edition-Saturday.”

...There is a new co-host to Speak Your Mind, the mental health podcast created by NHL player Riley Sheahan and the sports media company TorchPro. It has added Tyler Smith as the new co-host. Smith, the guest star of the second episode, will make his first appearance as co-host on the fourth episode of the show set for release Monday (Sept 13th). Smith was one of the 13 survivors from a 2018 bus crash that took the lives of 16 players, coaches, and staff members. Since the crash, Smith has been an active and outspoken advocate of mental health. “Tyler was an incredible guest and we received an overwhelming amount of support from listeners after his episode aired and he shared his story,” says Sheahan. “I am looking forward to welcoming him as my new co-host and I know that he will be a powerful addition and his message will resonate with guests and listeners alike.”

 ...It a powerhouse match of podcast producers, Audiochuck founder Ashley Flowers and Disgraceland creator Jake Brennan are joining forces to jointly produce a new series about famed armored truck robberies. The 10-episode podcast called Armored will be hosted by Brennan. “He is an enthralling storyteller whose vivid narration brings these absorbing stories to life,” said Flowers. She tells Deadline the series “gives new context” to some of the most infamous heists. Audiochuck’s Delia D’Ambra is the executive producer. 

...PodFest Expo has announced a hybrid in-person and virtual event that will take place in Tampa. The virtual event will be held Oct. 28-29 and Nov. 1-3 to be followed by the in-person events on Nov. 4-5. Dubbed PodFest Origins, to reflect the conference’s roots in Tampa where the conference was held from 2014-2016, the organizers say there will be a limited number of in-person passes available. Podfest is also still planning on hosting an in-person conference next May 26-29 in Orlando.

...Author James Ellroy is working with Audio Up Media to adapt his “American Tabloid” novel into a scripted podcast series. Deadline reports work on a 12-episode series has begun with Ellroy working on the adaption with Audio Up’s Jimmy Jellinek. They aim to release the podcast beginning in July 2022. Ellroy is already working with Audio Up on a five-part podcast series called Hollywood Death Trip. Based on Ellroy’s own true-crime reporting, the series will look at several murders that occurred in Los Angeles during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Ellroy will narrate the series.

...The alt-rock focused Idobi is aiming to growing its advertising revenue under a newly expanded alliance with AdsWizz. It will have exclusive rights to sell Idobi’s ad inventory in the U.S. and European markets. Idobi produces a variety of rock music streams and more than 20 podcasts dedicated to the alternative music and entertainment lifestyle. It’s users are primarily in the 13 to 34 year old age group. “We look forward to expanded opportunities and growth via this new era in our relationship,” said Idobi COO & Program Director Eddie Barella in the announcement. Globally, AdsWizz says its programmatic marketplace now offers over nine billion ad impressions and connects with over 80 million uniques each month. 

...Variety magazine has launched a new audio channel on Audible that will include features about podcasting such as the “10 Best True-Crime Podcasts” as well as news and commentary focused on album reviews, podcast stories and top breaking news. All of the content will be curated and updated bi-weekly. “Following the successful launch of ‘What to Watch’ and Variety’s ‘Docs’ channels, we are excited to continue to broaden our content coverage to include audio,” said CMO Dea Lawrence. Variety’s channel will also feature Audible Originals, new podcast and audiobook releases, and trending audio entertainment in a curated partner section, “Audible Recommends.”

...The Chinese podcasting platform Ximalaya has scrapped plans to becoming a publicly-traded company in the U.S. as a crackdown by the Chinese government on foreign listings for tech companies intensifies. In a filing with theSecurities and Exchange Commission, Ximalaya said the move was “consistent with the public interest and protection of investors.” The Tencent Holdings-backed company will reportedly go public in Hong Kong instead. Ximalaya says it had 250 million active monthly users during the first quarter.