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UFC announcer and podcast host Joe Rogan reacts during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 9, 2020, in Jacksonville, Fla.

Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The big development in the land of podcasts this week is the multiyear licensing deal American Joe Rogan signed with Spotify. The massively popular Joe Rogan Experience will make its Spotify debut on Sept. 1 before becoming available on the streaming platform exclusively later in the year. It’s another significant acquisition for Spotify, which one year ago announced an exclusive podcast partnership with Higher Ground, the production company of former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

“It will be the exact same show,” Rogan told his listeners this week, lest anyone think his politically incorrect tone would be sanitized. “I am not going to be an employee of Spotify.” A mixed-martial-arts commentator in addition to being a stand-up comic, Rogan chats informally with a wide array of celebrities and lesser-knowns in his long-form podcasts.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Rogan’s arrangement is worth US$100-million. Given that most podcasts don’t generate a lot of revenue, Rogan’s type of megadeal is extremely uncommon. With it, Spotify seeks to build up its subscription base, much as SiriusXM Satellite Radio did with its extravagant deal with Howard Stern in 2006. To put Rogan’s contract in perspective, a musician would need to generate more than 20 billion streams to get paid a similar amount.

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On his May 19 podcast, Rogan speaks with actor-comedian Patton Oswalt, who stopped by on the same day his new stand-up special, I Love Everything, came out on Netflix. Rogan’s freewheeling conversation with Oswalt is one of three recommended podcast episodes this week. Over at WTF with Marc Maron, the late filmmaker Lynn Shelton is poignantly remembered. Elsewhere, another filmmaker, Canadian Erik Anderson, heads down the rabbit hole with a charismatic reading of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Something heartbreaking: “I imagine most of you know that Lynn Shelton died at about 12:45 a.m. on Saturday morning,” says Marc Maron, beginning his popular podcast this week, clearly grieving. “She was my partner, she was my girlfriend, she’s my friend and I loved her – I loved her a lot.” With deep emotion, a barely composed Maron pays tribute to his creative collaborator and romantic partner, who died at age 54 due to a previously undiagnosed blood disorder on May 16. A tearful initial segment sets up Maron’s WTF interview with Shelton from 2015. They didn’t know each other then; listening to them hit it off is as uplifting as Maron’s eulogistic opening is tear-jerking.

Something new: The young Toronto-based indie filmmaker Erik Anderson calls his podcast Erik Reads Alice in Wonderland. That’s it. That’s what he does. “Down, down, down,” he reads from the opening pages of Lewis Carroll’s 1865 classic novel earlier this month. “Would the fall never come to an end!” For those wondering when the calamity of today will end, Anderson’s playful chapter-by-chapter readings are a rabbit-hole remedy for a worried mind.

Something chatty: Though Joe Rogan is considered to be a comedian, one wouldn’t know it by listening to his podcasts. His interview with actor-comedian Oswalt this week rambles from the creative process to post-coronavirus comedy to bar-stool political jabber. Two guys talking on a bus, really.

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