Podcasters showed off their 2020 plans to advertisers on Wednesday as the Podfront series kicked off for a second year in Los Angeles. During a succession of presentations, ad buyers heard not only about the new shows that are slated to debut in the coming months but also the latest research showing the industry’s growth. And it being Hollywood, there were also some celebrity podcasters on hand like Conan O’Brien, who said he’s been surprised by the success of his podcast. “It’s what I look forward to most in the day,” said O’Brien, who hosts the Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend podcast. The event was fittingly held at the Ray Kurtzman Theater at Creative Artists Agency, another sign of the role the talent agencies like CAA now play in development of shows.
So what can advertisers hear? Here are some highlights of what each of the companies talked up:
- Cadence13 — which is now owned by Entercom — previewed the first half of its 2020 slate. It includes documentary franchises from C13Originals, including a second season for the music documentary franchise Long May They Run, about iconic touring bands and their impact on music and culture; a second season of Gangster Capitalism, the franchise about white-collar corruption and the dark side of the American dream; and a new true life noir suspense franchise set in Los Angeles in the ’80s. Chris Corcoran, C13’s chief content officer, and Spencer Brown, SVP of the Radio.com Podcast Network, also discussed Origins: Almost Famous – the next chapter of the hit series hosted by award-winning journalist and bestselling author James Andrew Miller that explores the story behind Cameron Crowe’s iconic film in celebration of its 20th anniversary.
- iHeartPodcast Network reps discussed the latest podcast trends and programming and its unique ability to provide scale through its broadcast radio stations to introduce podcasts to the vast majority of Americans. iHeart also announced it is rolling out a slate of podcasts targeting Hispanics, with shows planned in both Spanish and English. It also gave a sneak preview of its upcoming spring and summer lineup featuring new series within their comedy, music and crime podcast slates. That includes future plans for its hit podcasts such as Stuff You Should Know, The Ron Burgundy Podcast, and Disgraceland.
- Stitcher and its advertising arm, Midroll, offered previews of upcoming shows from household names, new diverse voices and compelling true crime. Chief Revenue Officer Sarah van Mosel was joined by television host and comedian Conan O’Brien, whose podcast Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend is in its second season. Stitcher also announced at the upfront that Exactly Right Media (ERM), created by the hosts of My Favorite Murder and distributed by Stitcher, will be launching two new comedy podcasts this spring, their first foray into comedy programming: I Said No Gifts will be hosted by Bridger Winegar of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” fame. In this chat show, special guests drop by with an unsolicited present, prompting discussion about gift giving and getting. Confirmed guests include Andy Richter, Matt Ingebretson and Janelle James. And there’s Bananas, which will be hosted by comedian Kurt Braunohler and writer Scotty Landes. The weird news podcast will discuss strange and fascinating happenings from around the world. “Karen and I are thrilled to bring Bridger, Kurt and Scotty’s groundbreaking comedic voices into our Exactly Right family. It is a dream come true,” said ERM co-founder Georgia Hardstark.
- NPR put Code Switch host Shereen Marisol Meraji and Ted Radio Hour host and editorial director Guy Raz on stage to “discuss their creative craft, building community with their audiences and the power of audio storytelling.” NPR Senior Vice President for Programming and Audience Development Anya Grundmann also shared the latest programming updates, and Gina Garrubbo, CEO of the advertising arm National Public Media, presented sponsorship offerings from the podcast publisher.
- Public Media Marketing, the podcast ad rep firm, brought actress and podcaster Anna Faris on stage. She’s the host of Anna Faris is Unqualified. CEO David Raphael also announced the Dax Shepard-hosted Armchair Expert is launching a new limited series. The ten-episode series about relationships called Monica and Jess Love Boys will debut Valentine’s Day in the Armchair Expert feed.
- Westwood One President Suzanne Grimes introduced new multi-platform ad opportunities to ad buyers. Westwood One also previewed its expanded slate of “conversational podcasts” in the News & Insights, Sports, Life & Entertainment, and Business, Money & Tech verticals. That included appearances from nationally syndicated radio host Zach Sang, reality television personality and businesswoman Vicki Gunvalson, NFL defensive lineman Michael Bennett and his accomplished wife Pele, and Sports podcasting superstars Mark Titus and Tate Frazier.
- Wondery CEO Hernan Lopez showed off his company’s 2020 slate with launches of new shows called Bunga Bung and Even the Rich, as well as a follow-up season to the global phenomenon of Dr. Death. Lopez also detailed Wondery’s new partnerships such as School of Greatness, NBC News and All Things Comedy.
Among the other podcast companies on hand at event were show creators PodcastOne and ESPN, and the rep firm Authentic.
The Podfront series, launched in January 2019 to showcase podcast content to advertisers and agency buyers, will continue in the coming months with events planned for San Francisco and Chicago.