NBC News has been putting more emphasis on growing its podcasts and its latest show is a joint effort with the iHeartPodcast Network. Modern Ruhles, hosted by MSNBC anchor and correspondent Stephanie Ruhle, will be jointly produced by the two companies.
“We are living in complicated times,” said Ruhle. “It feels like there are a whole new set of rules but nobody knows where the actual lines are drawn. For cable news, social media, and yes, podcasts, filling the void with words, it seems like there is less of an actual conversation.” In the podcast’s preview she says the first season of Modern Ruhles will address issues including the #MeToo movement, masculinity, social media, privilege, and political correctness. “Now, more than ever, dialogue without judgement is critical,” said Ruhle. “My goal for Modern Ruhles is to figure out how we can navigate this changing world, talk with those who disagree with us and learn something along the way.”
Some of the first guests include actress and writer Amber Tamblyn, actor and comedian Terry Crews, and musician Amir “Questlove” Thompson. The show will open with an eight-week run in its first season with new shows published Tuesdays.
“In today’s current cultural climate, having a podcast with commentary that focuses on these serious and nuanced topics is vital,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network. “With Modern Ruhles, we’re hoping to add another unique and trusted voice to iHeartRadio’s vast podcast library.”
Ruhle also anchors “MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle” at 9 am ET and “MSNBC Live with Velshi & Ruhle” at 1 pm ET on weekdays. “MSNBC is committed to bringing its award-winning, trustworthy journalism to audiences across all platforms,” said Jonathan Wald, Senior VP of Programming and Development for the network. “Modern Ruhles is a great opportunity to provide listeners with open and honest conversations about important topics they encounter daily.”
Later this month Ruhle will also moderate a panel discussion featuring radio industry CEOs at the Radio Show in Dallas.
Steve Lickteig, Executive Producer of Podcasts and Audio at NBC News and MSNBC, told the Podcast Movement conference in Orlando last month that NBC now averages 18 million monthly downloads across all the podcasts it publishes. During the past year the NBC podcast team has grown from two people to six staffers as its lineup of shows has expanded beyond simply on-demand versions of news programming on NBC and MSNBC. But Lickteig said the network will continue to work with outside companies like its latest deal with iHeartMedia.
The highest profile NBC original podcast to date is “Bag Man.” The Rachel Maddow-hosted series investigated the financial misdeeds of former Vice President Spiro Agnew. The podcast typically racked up about 300,000 downloads for each of its nine episodes. NBC also had an expected hit with “The Oath,” the Chuck Rosenberg-hosted podcast from a former Justice Department official-turned-NBC News analyst. That podcast generated 2.5 million downloads during its first season, helped in part by an interview with former FBI director James Comey. Lickteig said last month NBC News will launch another podcast in the coming weeks focused on the 2020 presidential election.