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iHeart Launches Mentoring Initiative To Bring Diverse New Creators Into Podcasting.

In a move geared to help bring more up-and-coming and underrepresented creators into podcasting, iHeartMedia has launched its NextUp initiative. The boot-camp program is designed to give podcast newcomers a chance to learn about the world of podcasting from one of the biggest podcast networks worldwide, as well as give them the financial resources to take full advantage of the launch pad.

This week (July 5-9) interested podcasters can submit an application to take part in the five-month program set to launch in August. NextUp will mentor two people in each of iHeart's three major podcasting hubs – Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta. And unlike many mentoring opportunities, iHeart will provide the podcasters a monthly cash stipend.

“We believe by helping to elevate the voices of underrepresented storytellers and providing an incredible opportunity to be heard, iHeart will become the epicenter of compelling podcast talent and an industry leader in helping to address the market inefficiencies among underrepresented audio creators,” said iHeart Executive Producer Anna Hossnieh who is leading the program alongside fellow Executive Producer Joelle Smith.

During the months of working side-by-side with iHeart podcast producers, those selected to take part in NextUp will learn how to develop and market a show, as well as some of the nuts and bolts of producing a podcast using the latest software. The goal is for each of the participants to leave Next Up with at least three finished episodes and a polished pitch for their podcast.

“The idea for the NextUp initiative came to me in 2019 at a podcast conference,” said Hossnieh in a blog post. “A friend who was participating in the conference from Lebanon intrigued me with a podcast he was working on about the powerful feminist and LGBTQ underground culture in Beirut. These stories exist, and yet you must search far and wide to find shows about such topics. Again, I looked around and thought, ‘I work for a large media company, I can help’.”

Hossnieh – who also hosts the Ethnically Ambiguous podcast – says they plan to hold a two-week orientation from Aug. 9-20 during which iHeart employees will guide those selected for NextUp through the basic steps of creating, editing, marketing, and launching a podcast. Once their show is developed and their pitch fine-tuned, they will have the opportunity to pitch the show to a panel of iHeartPodcast Network development executives with the chance of having their show picked up by the network. Under the terms of the program, iHeart will have the right of first refusal for the podcast pitch but it will not own the show – if it passes, the producer is free to pitch the podcast elsewhere.

For more information and to apply for NextUp go HERE.

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