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Leading Podcast Creators Share Tips for Growing an Audience and How Hollywood Can Spotlight Underrepresented Voices

by Tobi Phang-Lyn on October 14, 2022

Brooklyn, NY (October 14, 2022) — At the inaugural The Gotham + Variety Audio Honors, presented by Wondery, leading podcast creators discussed their top tips for building an audience, and how the entertainment industry can do better to spotlight underrepresented voices.

The event took place on Friday, Oct. 14, at Second Floor NYC in Midtown Manhattan. The 10 podcast honorees were selected for their innovations in audio storytelling by a committee of industry professionals chaired by Brittany Luse, new host of NPR’s “It’s Been a Minute.” Variety executive editor Brent Lang hosted the panel and delivered opening remarks alongside Gotham Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp.

The winning shows, hosts and episodes are:

  • “Bag Ladiez” (Cinthia Estephanie Pimentel and Rafaela Uribe) – “Octavia Was Right…”
  • “Marijuanera: A Podcast for Potheads” (Mala Muñoz) – “Soliloquy for Sad Girls”
  • “Misrepresented” (Nikki Aggarwal) – “The Myth of the Pink City”
  • “Susto” (Ayden Castellanos) – “MS-13’s Satanic History”
  • “Teenager Therapy” (Gael Aitor) – “Self-Deprecating Humor/How To Love Yourself”
  • “Girl Tales” (Rebecca Cunningham and Georgina Escobar) – “Musings by Georgina Escobar”
  • “TransLash” (Oliver-Ash Kleine, editor and lead producer) – “Trans Mothers Day”
  • “Out There” (Sarah Dealy) – “Indoor Kid”
  • “Teleway 411” (Casper Cendre) – “Taylor Hearn”
  • “The 11th” (Sai Sion) – “His Saturn Return”

In the panel discussion, the podcasters discussed their advice for up-and-coming creators in terms of growing an audience.

“Get on Twitter, honey, and follow every journalist you can possibly find,” said Mala Muñoz of “Marijuanera: A Podcast for Potheads.” “Every publication that you read and respect and go to for your arts, culture and entertainment news… check them out. What are they writing about? Who are they writing about? Make sure that the folks that you want to see your work have no choice but to see your work.”

Cinthia Estephanie Pimentel added that building community with other podcasts allowed “Bag Ladiez” to gain more exposure and “share audiences” with other shows.

As far as monetizing their shows, the honorees encouraged targeting sponsors that relate to the niche audience demographic of each show. Gael Aitor, host of “Teenager Therapy,” said he began cold-emailing potential sponsors until, eventually, the sponsors started coming to the show. He also recommended podcast software Anchor’s monetization program and said “Teenager Therapy” makes a significant amount of money by uploading videos of the podcast to Snapchat. Other honorees said a portion of their revenue stream comes from platforms like Patreon.

In terms of barriers to the audio industry, and how Hollywood can do a better job at championing diverse creators, Sai Sion advocated for more incubation programs like “The 11th” from Pineapple Street Studios. Sion freelance produced a fiction piece for “The 11th” titled “His Saturn Return.”

The honorees also banded together around the idea of holding onto their own intellectual property.

“One of the first things I always think about is, ‘Where am I placing my IP?’ With any partnership or contract, that is the first question I ask and the last question I ask because I don’t know what is going to change during that conversation,” said “Susto” host Ayden Castellanos. “We can shift this industry from platform-led to creator-led.”

Nailing down the point, Sarah Dealy of “Out There” added, “Listeners follow creators, and listeners trust creators and will go on journeys with them… I think we’re at the beginning of knowing what a podcast can be. They can be three minutes; they can be three hours; they can be fiction, nonfiction… there are so many things that this medium can do.”