Stories of failure tend to be more useful than stories about success, and with podcasts gaining popularity as a deep engagement medium, companies are scrambling to assemble capabilities and, as former CN Audio employees allege in an open letter, making avoidable mistakes.

Why it matters: Speed is addictive, and companies investing in audio want to see the fruit of that investment fast – especially when the firm is accustomed to making content. Ultimately, audio is a tough work for publishers to transition into: the competition is very advanced, and experts are experts for a reason.

Source: An open letter written by former producers, editors, and engineers who worked for Conde Nast Entertainment’s audio division, launched summer 2020. As of January 2021, none remain in post – they hope other companies will learn from their experiences.

It’s a relatively simple tale in which the Wired and Vogue publisher is accused of treating audio as an afterthought, expecting too much, and then cutting staff without compunction when it transpired that outsourced production would be cheaper.


  • Invest in people who make the work. Good podcasts need good producers, and enough of them to be able to make shows with the care and attention that would go into any high-profile audiovisual output.
  • Podcasts are inherently collaborative, and it takes time to allow that collaboration to take place.
  • Though expectations were high, CNA’s podcast production team were hired on contracts with no end dates. The combination of short-term job security worries – which the media world is no stranger to – prevents long-term thinking or the development of institutional expertise.

Response: Speaking to tech site The Verge, CNE explained that looking ahead it was hoping to rehire for some of these positions, which was news to the authors of the letter.

Sourced from Medium, The Verge