#003 - Nick Quah tells the story of Hot Pod, the podcast industry’s biggest newsletter

Click here to listen to episode #003 of The Substack Podcast


When big news shakes the podcasting industry, tens of thousands of people listen to Nick Quah to figure out what it means. He started writing Hot Pod back in 2014, just after Serial launched, and has been building a reputation as  “the podcast guy” ever since.

We talked about a wide range of topics—whether there will ever be a “Netflix for Podcasts,” how the podcast advertising business is evolving, and how he grew Hot Pod from a side project into an independent business—but I was most curious to learn how he deals with being “the podcast guy.” At Substack, we consistently see that people who launch focused publications grow faster than those with broader scopes, but as a dabbling writer, I know how hard it is to limit yourself. I mean, wouldn’t you get bored writing about podcasts all the time?

Nick doesn’t think so:

“[Podcasting] feels like a prism into these larger questions like, ‘Can you be an artist in the world? Can you be a journalist in the world? What are the systems and structures that inhibit you from doing that, or allow you to do that? How do you get more freedom?’ I’m drawn to this because I already have access to this community, and they help me work through these larger ideas.”

Later in the interview, he says:

“Every specific topic is not just contained to the thing. Not to sound ‘woo-woo’ or anything, but everything is literally related. If you’re a transportation beat reporter, you’re not just writing about transportation. You’re writing about human systems, and how we live in society. Having a beat is great because it gives you a knowable identity, so that people looking to give you jobs can know what your deal is. But it doesn’t contain you philosophically.”

Nick has a lot of interesting ideas to share. I’m glad we had a chance to sit down and talk. Hope you enjoy it!


Click here to listen to episode #003 of The Substack Podcast