Erica Mandy loves the news. Mandy spent ten years as a broadcast journalist sharpening her skills like every other young broadcaster, starting in a small market paying her dues. She eventually worked her way up to Los Angeles, the second largest market in the country. Then, she quit.
As her career progressed, Mandy also noticed how the business was evolving and how Americans were consuming their news. She decided it was time to take a risk. Mandy walked away from the 9-to-5 world and launched a podcast called theNewsWorthy.
theNewsWorthy is an aggregation of news stories compacted into quick bites, delivered in an upbeat way. The NewsWorthy website includes the text from the news stories Mandy reads on the show and the sources of all the stories with links to those stories. An e-mail is delivered to her followers every morning and all they have to do is hit the play button to hear the news of the day.
Here’s our spotlight on Erica Mandy and her podcast theNewsWorthy
PBJ: Tell us about your radio-TV/broadcast/journalism career.
Erica Mandy: I spent more than a decade as a broadcast journalist and TV news reporter before leaving to start theNewsWorthy. After graduating college with a journalism degree, I paid my dues and learned a ton in a small Missouri town — where I began as a part-time reporter making $10/hour. Over the next several years, I worked my way up to Portland, Oregon, and then made it to Los Angeles, the second-largest news market in the country.
I most recently reported for CBS in LA, but as I watched the industry change, news consumption habits evolve, and heard from so many friends that news was too “depressing” and “overwhelming,” I knew I had a choice: continue on the traditional path or take a risk and start something new to help people stay informed in a unique way.
PBJ: How did you discover podcasting?
Erica Mandy: Of course I had heard of Serial and podcasting for some time, but I really got into podcasts when I was fed up with my hour commute to the CBS studios in Los Angeles. If you know LA traffic, then you feel my pain! I wanted to be more productive with that time. As I got more and more into podcasts, it planted the seed for theNewsWorthy. It was then business-related podcasts that helped grow an idea to a full–fledged plan.
PBJ: How did you come up with the idea for theNewsWorthy and when did you launch?
Erica Mandy: I was constantly hearing from smart people that they were “tuning out” news all together because it was too “depressing” and “overwhelming.” They didn’t know about big stories or other fun conversation starters. I wanted to help them stay informed and be part of the larger conversation, yet do it in a way that is actually convenient and enjoyable.
So, I looked at the current options. It was late 2016, and I got a quick news update in the mornings one of two ways: email newsletters or NPR’s traditional podcasts.
1. Some email newsletters had a fun vibe, but I heard (and felt) that emails were piling up in email inboxes. Plus, it’s just another thing you have to stare at a screen to read first thing in the morning.
2. The convenience of LISTENING to news podcasts on-the-go is great, but the current options weren’t targeting an audience who wants something more casual, upbeat, and friendly to start their day.
I realized I could create the perfect combination of the two with theNewsWorthy.
I had to sit quietly with my idea while I waited months for my TV contract to end. It was tough to see other daily news podcasts launch in the meantime, but I knew theNewsWorthy was unique enough to pursue.
I left TV in June and launched theNewsWorthy in September 2017.
PBJ: How are you getting the word out?
Erica Mandy: I have so many new ideas for this year! But so far, it’s helped to be featured several times on Apple Podcasts as well as other media outlets, such as Salon.com’s “12 Essential Current Events Podcasts,” Brit+Co and more. I also do collaborations and cross-promotions with other podcasters, speak or moderate panels at conferences and other events, and I buy an occasional ad on Overcast.
Also, on Thursdays, we have a short guest interview on after the day’s news for a segment I call “Thing To Know Thursday,” so guests often share the episodes with their audiences as well.
Of course, I encourage my listeners to spread the word too, which they do on social media, often. In fact, I’m working on a referral program now to start testing soon.
This year, my goal is to secure even bigger partnerships, and I have a spreadsheet of new ideas I’m excited about pursuing.
PBJ: What has the feedback been so far?
Erica Mandy: The most rewarding thing about launching theNewsWorthy is hearing from listeners and the impact the show is having on their lives. Listeners have told me everything from how they voted for the first time to how they feel less anxiety in their lives overall — all because of theNewsWorthy. How amazing is that?
Pew research proved it: the news fatigue is real. So, I truly feel like I’m helping people stay informed in a less depressing and overwhelming way.
Last year, I set up a voicemail account and told listeners they could call in with anything they may want to say about the show. I’ll never forget sitting in my office crying happy tears as I listened to the grateful voices behind the downloads.
PBJ: How many listens/downloads are you getting?
Erica Mandy: I get tens of thousands of downloads a week, but the main thing I’m focused on is the growth of the show. As long as I continue to grow at least 10 percent month over month, I know it’s resonating with new audiences — I just need to make sure they continue to discover it. It’s also fun to look back and see 300 percent growth year over year.
PBJ:Are you making money?
Erica Mandy: Yes, I started working with ad agencies at the end of Q3 last year and have pretty much sold out my ad spots since. I just brought on some more consistent help with the show, and I’m excited about launching a membership option later this year as well.
How you can follow, listen, and contact Erica: