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Quake

Quake, a subscription podcast company founded by media veterans, launched on Tuesday with $2.5 million in seed funding, executives tell Axios. It debuts with exclusive politics shows, and hopes to expand into religion, sports and possibly Hispanic media.

Why it matters: There's a growing trend of podcast companies poaching top talent to launch exclusive shows, which ultimately forces users to subscribe to more than one podcast company.

""It seems like an inevitability in media these days. We've seen it in digital video and with the rise of streaming services, I know there are a lot of podcast purists, but there have been many podcast services that haven't been able to meaningfully monetize on ads."
— Mike Morrell, President of Quake Media

The company is launching with six exclusive shows from big-name personalities in politics and media, including Laura Ingraham, Soledad O’Brien, Gretchen Carlson, Mike Huckabee, Andrew Gillum, Marc Lamont Hill and Buck Sexton. (Hill and Sexton will launch a podcast together.)

  • Quake founders include Mike Morrell, former ESPN journalist and Bleacher Report executive, and Doug Rosenberg, a former political executive who launched one of the first Spanish-language syndicated radio shows in 2012.
  • The goal is to use these types of exclusive big names to lure subscribers to the platform for a monthly fee of $4.99 or an annual fee of $49.99. All shows are ad free.
  • Investors include Wndrco, a holding company founded by media veterans like Ann Daly and Jeffrey Katzenberg, as well as a few other individuals.
  • The company has 4 full-time employees and 8 full-time contractors.
  • The app is available on Apple and Android, and content is accessible at QuakeMedia.com.

The big picture: News and politics podcasts have increased in downloads by 98% from this same period last year, according to data from podcast analytics company Podtrac.

  • The founders sees politics as a good entryway into building an audience, because many of the talent it tapped already has massive audiences.
  • "All of the talent we signed has significant media experience," says Rosenberg. "We're not training newbie political stars to do something like this."

Be smart: Quake is launching a network that closely resembles digital radio. It's focusing on verticals like religion, news and sports that resemble radio programming, not things like true crime or evergreen storytelling.

  • "We're like that next version of satellite radio," says Rosenberg. "The digital version."
  • Other subscription-based podcast companies, like Luminary, focus on more evergreen shows. Luminary has signed mega-stars in the podcast space, but is less focused on recruiting national political and news media figures.

What's next: Rosenberg says the company could explore additional fundraising when it looks to expand out from political podcasts after the election in the next few months.

  • The company hopes to have locked down at least 50 shows by next year. "We're having those conversations now," says Rosenberg.

Go deeper

Nov 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Journalists face volatile media landscape

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has been a nightmare for thousands of journalists out of work —and for additional thousands trying to navigate jobs amid fear and uncertainty.

Why it matters: Recent departures, deals, layoffs and restructurings amid the pandemic have journalists questioning whether there's stability anywhere within the industry.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Key government agency says Biden transition can formally begin

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy. Photo: Alex Edelman/CNP/Getty Images

General Services Administrator Emily Murphy said in a letter to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday that she has determined the transition from the Trump administration can formally begin.

Why it matters: Murphy, a Trump appointee, had come under fire for delaying the so-called "ascertainment" and withholding the funds and information needed for the transition to begin while Trump's legal challenges played out.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key information about the effective COVID-19 vaccines — Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries.
  2. Health: U.S. coronavirus hospitalizations keep breaking recordsWhy we're numb to 250,000 deaths.
  3. World: England to impose stricter regional systemU.S. hotspots far outpacing Europe's — Portugal to ban domestic travel for national holidays.
  4. Economy: The biggest pandemic labor market drags.
  5. Sports: Coronavirus precautions leave college basketball schedule in flux.