In today’s podcast news roundup, Spotify is set to debut a new series from The Ringer about legendary film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert; Kelsey Grammer narrates the scripted podcast “The Lower Bottoms” about tensions in a gentrifying neighborhood in West Oakland, Calif.; Automattic buys Pocket Casts; and more.


Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, the famous film-critic duo, will be the focus of a Spotify original narrative documentary podcast series from The Ringer. Hosted by Brian Raftery, “Gene and Roger” will chronicle their rise and careers with a focus on the cultural footprint they’ve left behind since their deaths. The series promises never-before-heard commentary and sound bites from Siskel and Ebert as well as those closest to them. Guests will include Gene and Roger’s widows, Marlene Iglitzen and Chaz Ebert; Quentin Tarantino; Tom Shales; Justin Lin; Carrie Rickey; Thea Flaum; Nancy De Los Santos; Ray Solley; Ramin Bahrani; Carie Lovstad; Jesse Beaton; Richard Roeper; Erik Rydholm; and David Price. The eight-part series will air every Tuesday, beginning with the first two episodes on Tuesday, July 20, exclusively on Spotify. Listen to the trailer at this link.

iHeartMedia and Will Packer Media will debut “The Lower Bottoms,” a new scripted podcast series narrated by actor Kelsey Grammer, about a quickly gentrifying neighborhood in West Oakland, Calif., on July 20. The ten-episode series, the first production from the recently announced partnership between the two companies, centers on intensifying tensions in the Bay Area’s Lower Bottoms, where newcomers and natives clash amid a troubling rise of vandalism and arson. The show was created and written by Dominique Mouton, and produced by Will Packer, James Lopez, Joelle Monique for iHeartRadio and Jack Levy, who also directed the series. Listen to the trailer at this link.

Spotify and Complex Networks are set to debut “Complex Subject: Pop Smoke,” a series unpacking the life and death of rapper Pop Smoke told by the people closest to him. It premieres July 20, which would have been Pop Smoke’s 22nd birthday, with a full six-episode binge drop. Pop Smoke combined gravelly vocals with erratic production to become the face and pioneer of Brooklyn’s rising drill scene. Within just a year of his debut, he made a rapid rise in the mainstream, only to be gunned down in his L.A. Airbnb in a robbery on Feb. 19, 2020.

Esports organization FaZe Clan and FaZe Rug, its most-watched content creator with over 35 million combined followers, are launching the company’s first podcast, “All Grown Up.” In the show, FaZe Rug and his co-host Simplistic, Rug’s long-time best friend and videographer, will share personal stories on topics ranging from mental health to the ups and downs of content creation, as well as real-life experiences from both themselves and their guests. The first episode airs Sunday, July 18, at 9 p.m. PT on the “All Grown Up” YouTube channel and platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher. Watch the trailer at this link.


Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com, is acquiring Pocket Casts, a podcast listening app that is designed to make it easier for fans to discover podcasts and customize their listening experience. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. Co-founders Russell Ivanovic and Philip Simpson will continue to lead Pocket Casts as part of Automattic. In addition, Automattic said it will “explore building deep integrations with WordPress.com and Pocket Casts, making it easier to distribute and listen to podcasts.” First launched in 2010, Pocket Casts was sold to NPR and a group of other public media entities in 2018.

Luminary, the subscription podcast network, announced a strategic partnership with Times Bridge to grow its audience with Indian podcast consumers. Last month ago Luminary launched its network of Luminary original podcasts globally with Apple Podcasts Subscriptions, making all of its content available through the Apple Podcasts app to Luminary channel subscribers. Those continue to be available for subscribers on Luminary’s app in the 12 countries it is currently available in, and with the Times Bridge partnership, all Luminary originals will now also be available via the Luminary app for Indian consumers. Pricing in India will be 199 INR for a monthly subscription or 999 INR for an annual plan. Luminary’s network includes more than 30 original podcasts including “Under the Skin with Russell Brand,” “Snap Judgment Presents: Spooked,” “The C-Word with Lena Dunham” and Leon Neyfakh’s “Fiasco.”

Marketplace, in partnership with Cumulus Media’s Westwood One, announced that it will offer a new 60-second show, “Marketplace Minute,” to public radio stations across the country as well as a podcast segment. “Marketplace Minute,” to be produced twice daily, will be available on participating stations and distributors starting in August.