iHeartMedia invested big in podcasting and Conal Byrne is in charge of the payoff. Byrne was running Stuff Media when it was acquired by iHeartMedia in 2018, and he's now overseeing the biggest commercial podcast network in the world. With over 250 active shows and 127 million downloads each month, Conal Byrne was an easy pick to top the list as The Most Powerful Person in Podcasting.
As the Worldwide Manager of Apple Podcasts, James Boggs presides over the grandfather of podcast distributors. He’s been with the Cupertino, CA-based tech giant since 2004 beginning with the iTunes division and soon he was in charge of advocating for podcasts across Europe. Since 2010 he’s been back in the U.S. and since 2017 Boggs has been Apple’s Worldwide Manager of Podcasts, overseeing everything from editorial teams to working with podcast partners.
Neal Carruth is NPR's General Manager of Podcasts. A 17-year NPR veteran, Carruth oversees a variety of shows including Planet Money, Embedded, Hidden Brain, Code Switch, Pop Culture Happy Hour plus NPR’s politics podcasts. His approach is to grow the brand. “Success doesn’t necessarily mean a giant audience for every show. In some cases, we’re trying to find new audiences, whether it’s a younger segment or a more diverse segment."
Hernan Lopez launched Wondery in 2016 with funding from a group of investors including 20th Century Fox after spending 20 years working television including as CEO of Fox International Channels. "We're a network of storytellers," he’s said of Wondery. And through shows like Dirty John and Dr. Death, Wondery has reached 1 billion downloads in nearly four years. What's ahead? Lopez predicts the podcasting industry will hit $1B in revenue in next year—a year earlier than the IAB forecasts.
Eirk Diehn is the CEO of Stitcher, home to over 150,000 podcasts. The company produces original podcasts under the Stitcher brand and is the parent of Earwolf, which makes comedy legends like "How Did This Get Made?" and "Comedy Bang! Bang!" And Midroll is the advertising sales and podcaster services arm for hundreds of partners such as The Ringer, WTF with Marc Maron, Star Talk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, and American Public Media. Before joining stitcher, Diehn was Senior Director of Business Development for New York Public Radio.
Kerri Hoffman is the CEO of PRX, and is shaping the future of public media content and talent. And Kerri is a fierce champion for innovations in podcasting, new financial models, and audience growth. She played a key role in the building and evolution of PRX, and headed up the launch of Radiotopia, a podcast collective of 14 diverse, independent, story-driven shows, anchored by 99% Invisible from Roman Mars. "Podcasting is still a new medium and is exploding with opportunity, competition and big money. We need to find smart ways to lead in this emerging space."
Oren Rosenbaum runs the emerging platforms division at United Talent Agency (UTA). He was instrumental in brokering actor Will Ferrell’s landmark podcast deal to revive his Ron Burgundy character for an iHeartMedia podcast. Rosenbaum also represents a variety of podcast networks, creators and early stage companies including iHeartMedia/HowStuffWorks, Wondery, Tenderfoot, The Boston Globe, Guy Raz (TED Radio Hour/How I Built This), Aaron Mahnke, American Public Media, and Anna Faris (Unqualified), among others.
Sam Dolnick is an assistant managing editor of The New York Times who oversees The Times’s audio report, its work in film and television, and other digital projects. He helped launch “The Daily,” one of the top podcasts in the country, as well as “The Weekly,” The Times’s television show on FX and Hulu, where he's an executive producer. Before that he helped introduce the Times’s early experiments in virtual reality and other mobile journalism initiatives.
The acquisition of Gimlet Media, Parcast and Anchor FM this year firmly planted Spotify into the podcast business. And Spotify’s Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff told Variety recently the company is looking at a “myriad of opportunities” for its next podcast deals. “We’re open to seeing ways we can strategically fit with other companies,” she said in the interview. The former President of Entertainment of The CW and President of Condé Nast Entertainment added, “Podcasts offer the combination of being able to really entertain, inform and connect.
Podcasting Executives To Watch
Alex Blumberg is the co-founder and CEO of Gimlet Media, a digital media company and podcast producer focused on producing narrative content. Gimlet Media was purchased by Spotify earlier this year for $190.7 million. “The money was far and away not the driving factor. To me, the driving factor was, will this be better for the work we’re trying to do,” he told the Recode podcast. The industry’s watching to see what Spotify does with its new podcast content pipeline and how those shows are produced.
Ben Davis, an agent at WME (William Morris Endeavor) helps lead WME's podcast efforts. He has worked with several podcasts, negotiating the terms of a show's deal with distribution partners and networks. These podcasts include Freakonomics Radio; Tell Me Something I Don’t Know; Pod Save America (and the Crooked Media network); Limetown; 36 Questions; Crimetown; Missing Richard Simmons; Revisionist History; Lebron James’ Uninterrupted Network; Under the Skin with Russell Brand; The Tony Kornheiser Show; and Unsolved Murders.
Brendan Monaghan is the CEO of Megaphone, a company that provides podcast hosting technology for publishers and audience targeting, data and measurement for brand advertisers. Programs hosted by Megaphone produce over 1 billion downloads each year. Yahoo Finance recently asked Monaghan, What makes a successful podcast? His answer: "Developing the relationship between the host and the listener. A listener knowing they can come back week after week and find the same host, delivery, and experience, helps develop a strong bond.
Brian Mayfield is EVP of Ramsey Media and he leads the engine that powers the Ramsey Network, which is home to some of the top podcasts in the industry. The Dave Ramsey Show was the fifth most-downloaded podcast of 2018, according to Apple Podcasts and the other Ramsey Network programs (The Ken Coleman Show, The Rachel Cruze Show, Chris Hogan Show) are consistently in the Top 20 of the business, careers, and investing categories.
Chris Bannon is the Chief Content Officer for Stitcher. Prior to that, he was Vice President, content development and production for WNYC Radio, and served as co-executive producer for 'The Next Big Thing' for PRI and WNYC.
Chris Corcoran is the Chief Content Officer for Cadence13, the four-year-old podcast production and distribution company purchased this week by Entercom. He's working to develop original shows that span genres, from true crime to music with a flurry of new podcast deals announced during the past year. And last spring Corcoran was also named head of C13 Originals, the company’s division that’s developing a slate of new shows.
After spending nearly two decades as a freelance radio producer, Chris Morrow co-founded The Loud Speakers Podcast Network in 2014. The company has grown to 13 shows and today averages more than four million downloads per month. Among the shows that are part of The Loud Speakers Podcast Network are The Read, The Brilliant Idiots, Combat Jack Show and Angela Yee's Lip Service. In addition to his podcast work, Morrow is also a writer and has authored five New York Times bestsellers.
Chris Spencer is the Chairman/President/CEO of Liberated Syndication, or Libsyn as it’s more commonly known to podcasters. Libsyn hosts more than 67,000 podcasts worldwide and delivers over 75 million unique downloads to audiences everywhere each month. And while Libsyn may be best known as a podcast hosting and analytics provider but it’s expanding into monetization. The company is working toward the launch of a new advertising platform created specifically for podcasters.
Colin Anderson is the VP Comedy & Earwolf at Stitcher. After 12 years producing radio comedy at the BBC Comedy Radio in London, he moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to focus on podcasting. Three years ago he joined the comedy podcast network Earwolf as an executive producer. Today he’s now VP of Comedy for Earwolf which is Stitcher’s dedicated comedy podcast network. It produces shows like Comedy Bang Bang and How Did This Get Made?
Dave Easton is Head of Content for Endeavor Audio (formerly WME|IMG). Before joining Endeavor Audio, Easton led Cadence13's podcast development and production after working for several as a producer at Fox Sports. Endeavor has moved beyond the traditional talent rep agency to take on a variety of roles from brand marketing to content development and since 2018 its podcast division Endeavor Audio. Its podcast work has included the hit show Limetown.
Erika Nardini is the CEO of Barstool Sports, a digital media company that hopes to produce $100M in revenue in 2020. Barstool Sports, despite its name, sees itself as a lifestyle brand with sports one component to its mix. And podcasting plays a big part. Nardini recently told Digiday, "Three years ago, we had three podcasts. Now we have 25. We grow brands through podcasts and we are incubating 10 additional podcasts at Barstool. Podcasts are significantly bigger than the website in terms of revenue.”
Francesco Baschieri is the founder and CEO of podcast technology platform Spreaker and President of parent company, Voxnest. In his current role, he is spearheading the growth and development of Voxnest’s comprehensive suite of professional solutions for creating, distributing, managing, monetizing and advertising in podcast content. Whats ahead for podcasting? "My predictions are measurement and analytics—the widespread adoption by the podcasting platforms of the IAB standard will have a deep impact and change the industry."
In November 1995, Ira Glass quietly launched the first episode of This American Life. The rest, as they say, is history. This American Life, which he partially owns with WBEZ Chicago, is a colossal success and Ira Glass is a household name. He also may be the most imitated podcast host in America. In an interview this spring Glass revealed This American Life now has more listeners (3 million) to its podcast than its broadcast radio show (2.2 million). This American Life has also spun-off the hugely successful Serial podcast which many credit with helping the medium reach new listeners and accelerate its path toward becoming a mainstream media.
When Jack Hobbs created reVolver Podcasts in 2016, the Spanish-language radio veteran said he wanted to build a multicultural-targeted, bi-lingual audio on-demand network. Three years later reVovler—a reference to the Spanish word for mixing things up—has more than 50 podcasts spanning sports, music, finance, entertainment, lifestyle, health and wellness, inspiration, news, real crime, branded content and live events. They include El Show de Piolín, Wrongful Conviction with Jason Flom, Neteando con Kate y Jessica, and House Call with Dr. J.
Few people are paid to be funny, or at least recognize funny. Jack O'Brien is one of them. He’s the Creative Director and Head of Comedy at the iHeart Podcast Network. O’Brien is also the cohost of The Daily Zeitgeist podcast along with Miles Gray. Before joining Stuff Media in 2017, which is now part of the iHeart Podcast Network, O’Brien launched the humor website Cracked.com in 2006 and was a driving force behind the site’s editorial and video content until he left to work in podcasting.
Jenna Weiss-Berman is a co-founder and producer at Pineapple Street Media, the Brooklyn-based podcast company sold just this week to Entercom. She made the move to podcasting after nearly a decade working in public radio on shows like Story Corp and The Moth—a program where she still sits on the advisory board. Pineapple Street Media is known to embrace edgier content and novel shows such as Missing Richard Simmons, Still Processing and Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham.
John Barth is the Chief Content Officer for the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), the distributor of radio programs and parent company to Radiotopica, the podcast network it created in 2014. Podtrac data shows PRX had 70 shows that produced over 62 million downloads in July 2019 and a unique U.S. audience of over 9.3 million. Barth has been at PRX since 2004, starting as Station Collaboration Manager. He previously was an executive at Audible.com, worked at Philadelphia’s WHYY and was a General Manager of News and Politics at America Online.
John Wordock took the newly-created role of Executive Editor of Podcasting at Westwood One in February. He's responsible for content strategy and development for the Westwood One Podcast Network. Wordock joined Westwood One from The Wall Street Journal, where he most recently served as Executive Producer of Podcasts and guided the multi-department team that launched the chart-topping podcast The Future of Everything, podcast. Wordock has also held positions at MarketWatch, the Associated Press and Bloomberg TV.
Live tours have become a big money-maker for podcasts and Josh Lindgren is at the intersection of live events and on-demand audio. Creative Artists Agency brought on Lindgren last year as an agent in the company’s touring department, where he is working to grow the talent agency’s portfolio of touring podcast properties. How much money is there is tours? In 2018, “Stuff You Should Know” as a touring entity sold out venues including The Wilbur in Boston (April 4, 1,088 tickets sold, $32,640 gross) and Moore Theatre in Seattle Jan 15, which sold 1,707 tickets and grossed more than $41,000.
Since 2015 Julie Shapiro has been Executive Producer for Radiotopia, the podcast network created by Public Radio Exchange (PRX). She's also executive producer of the Ear Hustle podcast. Shapiro has been working in audio for nearly two decades, spending a good part of that as Artistic Director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. She’s credited with coining the term “Radiotopia” in a speech at the Third Coast Festival, describing it as a place where awesome stories live.
Few podcasters have made the leap into Apple, but Lauren Osen is one. She joined Apple two years ago working on its Podcast Prover Relations team. She also works as an Editor for the Americas at Apple Podcasts. Show producers say it puts her in the inner city of podcast gatekeepers at the platform where 60% of listening still occurs. What makes Osen stand out is unlike a lot of the tech types that join Apple Osen comes from the content side. She previously was a producer and reporter at Southern California Public Radio.
Malcolm Gladwell is an award-winning writer for The New Yorker and bestselling author with a new book on the way this autumn. He’s also the cofounder of Pushkin Industries. That’s the audio company co-founded last year by Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg, the former chairman and editor-in-chief of the Slate Group. Pushkin Industries has so released seven podcasts and it plans to release more in the coming months as part of an alliance with Cadence 13.
Fifteen years after co-founding the online magazine Mental Floss as a campus magazine at Duke University in 2001, Mangesh Hattikudur made a bold move. He left the world of online publishing for the world of podcasting. It began as co-host of the Part-Time Genius podcast with fellow Mental Floss co-founder Will Pearson for HowStuffWorks in March 2017. A year and a half later he joined iHeartMedia/Stuff Media full-time as SVP of Podcast Development.
Moses Soyoola, the General Manager of Endeavor Audio, most recently served as the Director of Business Development & Strategy at Panoply Media, where he was responsible for leading all business development and partnership efforts to structure and negotiate co-production, co-financing, and licensing deals with content creators and media companies. Prior to joining Panoply Media, Moses co-founded Jamplify, a music data company that provided ticketing data to booking agencies.
As one of the leaders in the modern era of syndicated radio programming, Norm Pattiz surprised broadcasters in 2012 when after working in network radio for more than three decades—most notably forming Westwood One in 1976—he launched a company in the new medium of podcasting. Today, Podcast One is a network of more than 200 shows. “Radio should be embracing podcasting and digital and make them part of radio so that radio, which has a decades-long history of growing, will be able to keep doing that,” he told annual Radio Show conference last year.
Pocket Casts describes itself as “built by podcast listeners, for podcast listeners” and since May 2018 the company has been led by CEO Owen Grover. Grover previously spent a dozen years at iHeartMedia. In an interview with Cheddar earlier this year, Grover said to grow podcasting beyond the well-educated, affluent early-adopter crowd it will need to do more to reflect the diversity of listeners. “As we bring in more diversity of thought and more diversity of voices, you’re going to see more audience growth from those efforts.”
When Acast announced last October it was going public it also promoted Chief Revenue Officer Ross Adams to the company’s CEO. The Stockholm-based podcast hosting and monetization platform reaches more than 20 million people worldwide with more than 3,000 podcasts. “At Acast, we believe the most important thing about the podcast medium is that it continues to be public and accessible and independent of any one platform,” the former Spotify executive said in May.
Veritone One president and co-founder Ryan Steelberg has been at the intersection of audio and technology for more than a decade. His created the digital solutions provider for the radio industry in 2002 only to sell it to Google four years later. After several years outside the audio business he signed on as president of Veritone in 2015. Veritone One is the world's largest performance-based audio agency, with over 25% ad placements in the Podcast industry, Veritone One is a full service agency creating impactful advertising for some of the world's most recognized brands.
Sean Carr is the co-founder and CEO of Art19. The company provides podcast hosting, distribution and ad serving technologies to iHeartMedia, Midroll Media, DGital Media, AudioHQ, Hispanic-focused podcast network reVolver, The New York Times and other media companies. “It’s a huge market and a wildly effective advertising medium,” Carr said recently. “By offering better data to the podcasting industry, monetization will catch up with audience scale, and that will be good for everyone. A rising tide lifts all boats.”
His media career began at an AM radio station in Ottawa, KS. Since October 2018 Steve Lickteig is Executive Producer of Podcasts and Audio for NBC News and MSNBC. He was recruited to the job after building Slate’s podcast portfolio as NBC looked to make a splash in the medium. So far the network has launched a handful of shows and Lickteig said in May they plan to introduce several new podcasts this year.
As Audioboom’s Chief Operating Officer and its top executive in the U.S., Stuart Last has got a lot on his plate. But no bigger task before the BBC Radio veteran is his effort to build the Audioboom Originals Network into a serious content player and in the process bring more ad dollars to the four-year old company. “We have plans to release another nine or ten shows in 2019 and we just love to be able to control the production process, the ideation, the development of those ideas, and the launch. The success of those has been fantastic,” he told us in a recent Q&A.
After spending 25 years in the Navy working with advanced airborne avionics systems, Todd Cochrane went from Senior Chief Petty Officer to CEO of a company in the emerging podcast medium. In 2005 he founded RawVoice/Blubrry, the full-service podcast company that negotiates and executes podcast advertising deals for 30,000 podcasters. And its statistics are used by 40,000 podcasters worldwide.
As Senior Vice President of ESPN Audio, Traug Keller is responsible for the sports goliath’s podcast portfolio. It includes 61 podcasts which deliver a monthly unique audience of more than 5 million listeners in the U.S. “There’s no question that the podcast listener definitely skews younger than we’ve seen in sports talk radio, so that’s a plus, because now we are getting those folks in at an earlier age and hopefully having them develop an affinity for our brand through podcasting. That is certainly important to us.”
Will Pearson co-founded the online magazine Mental Floss as a campus magazine at Duke University in 2001 with friend Mangesh Hattikudur. When the two left Mental Floss two years ago they both landed at HowStuffWorks. While Hattikudur took the creative route, Pearson has been focused on the operational side. First he was head of business affairs for HowStuffWorks and now that it’s under the iHeartMedia umbrella Pearson serves as SVP of Podcast Operations for iHeart/Stuff Media.