Many podcasters have worried that the content being offered isn’t reflective of the entire population. Too much content is geared toward white, well-educated urbanites rather than the broader spectrum of backgrounds and life experiences of Americans overall. To help close that gap, the iHeartPodcast Network has announced that it has set a goal of investing half of its production on new shows and slates to come from diverse creators, including women, African Americans, and Hispanics.
“As the world’s largest podcast publisher, we have a responsibility to ensure that the voices creating and hosting the shows are as diverse as the millions of people listening to them every month,” CEO Bob Pittman and COO/CFO Rich Bressler. “We are committed to using the power of audio to connect with our many diverse audiences through authentic storytelling across all our communities,” they wrote in a joint email to employees announcing the initiative. “It will make us more representative of our listening audience as well as enhancing our goal of increasing diversity within our iHeart family.”
As part of that effort, iHeartMedia has unveiled several alliances in recent months to help diversify its podcast offerings. That includes last month’s announcement that it had formed a partnership with the multicultural digital audio network ReVolver to develop a slate of Spanish- and English-language podcasts. In December iHeart partnered with Einhorn’s Epic Productions to develop scripted podcasts that have will have “strong female characters.” In October, iHeart partnered with Shondaland, the production company by renowned TV producer and writer Shonda Rhimes that included a full slate of iHeartRadio Original Podcasts for release over the next three years. And last July it expanded its alliance with Pride Media to coproduce a slate of podcasts geared toward the LGBTQ market.
The executives also noted that many of the individual shows added by the iHeartPodcast Network in recent months also help broaden the content spectrum such as Questlove Supreme hosted by music icon Questlove, Modern Ruhles, hosted by MSNBC anchor and NBC News Senior Business Correspondent Stephanie Ruhle, and Ethnically Ambiguous, hosted by Shereen Lani Younes and Anna Hossnieh.
“We’re excited to continue to boost the voices of the diverse creators already heard on iHeart while welcoming more talented and inclusive voices to the iHeartPodcast Network family,” Pittman and Bressler said in the announcement. “It will make us more representative of our listening audience as well as enhancing our goal of increasing diversity within our iHeart family.”
The executives said the podcast diversification strategy isn’t happening in isolation, but rather part of the recent efforts to modernize the company’s staffing and systems.