After sorting through hundreds of applications, iHeartMedia has selected its first group of eight podcast newcomers to participate in its newly-launched NextUp initiative. The boot-camp program is geared to help bring more up-and-coming and underrepresented creators into podcasting. The first participants include Priyanka Das, Carmen Llorens, Neha Aziz, X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell, Kay-B G., Maria Fernanda Diez, Oya Christina Sherrills, and Jonathan Higgins.
Led by industry veterans and iHeartPodcast Networks executive producers, Anna Hossnieh and Joelle Smith, the program will mentor the selected NextUp fellows in each of iHeart’s three major podcasting hubs – Los Angeles, New York and Atlanta – during the next five months. 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 Hossnieh.
NextUp will get rolling with a two-week orientation starting next week, and 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. They will also 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.