If anyone has learned how to scale podcasts in a short amount of time it’s iHeartMedia. During a Thursday session at Podcast Movement’s Evolutions, attendees got to hear how Disgraceland, which launched two years ago, went from a self-produced project to the major hit it is today.
Disgraceland host Jake Brennan and iHeartMedia Podcast COO Will Pearson took to the stage and got everyone in attendance pretty motivated by telling their story.
Brennan talked about how it all began for him: “I started in music, eking out a living in the punk rock world.” As he got older he wondered how he could make a living in audio. He was very inspired by Aaron Mehnke (who was in the front row of Brennan’s panel). He never expected his podcast to become what it is today. The podcast turned him into a writer as well.
Brennan said, “Podcast listeners are like nothing I saw in music. The energy and excitement is something I never expected. Fan’s walk up to me with Disgraceland tattoos now.”
Will and Jake talked about how iHeart took his podcast and promoted it on the radio and how iHeart has been able to facilitate things he could never have done, like an interview in Milan with Elton John. That interview was then broadcast on hundreds of iHeart radio stations. It not only helped double his show audience, it was part of the promotion for Elton John’s movie Rocketman.
Pearson says iHeart’s job is to “know when to get out of the way of creators and let them do what they do: “Our job is to make sure the podcasts are exposed to a large audience.” iHeart is now doing the “studio model” where podcasters are invited in to create shows. Brennan’s new Double Elvis Productions is currently doing that with four shows in production. Brennan added, “I see Double Elvis as not just a media and audio company, but a brand. I want it to be what MTV was to me as a kid.”
But what about podcasters that don’t have 845 stations to promote? Will Pearson noted that he is seeing the hustle in the new podcasters, reaching out to each other and helping grow each other’s shows.