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By Katherine Rosman, Ben Sisario, Mike Isaac and Adam Satariano
February 17, 2022
It was the deal that helped make Spotify a podcasting giant, but has now put the company at the center of a fiery debate about misinformation and free speech.
Spotify was already the king of music streaming. But to help propel the company into its next phase as an all-purpose audio juggernaut, and further challenge Apple and Google, it wanted a superstar podcaster, much as Howard Stern helped put satellite radio on the map in 2006. Spotify executives came to view Joe Rogan — a comedian and sports commentator whose no-holds-barred podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” was already a monster hit on YouTube — as that transformative star.