The intended audience is graduates, but the lesson for everyone is how the audio medium’s growing appeal has allowed iHeartMedia to attract a roster of some of the biggest names in America to its virtual graduation. The initiative already secured people like former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and cosmetics icon Bobbi Brown. Now in a second wave of additions, iHeart is bringing more A-listers to the podcast event Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020. It’s geared for graduates and their families that won’t be able to attend the typical cap and gown ceremonies this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The iHeartPodcast Network series will feature words of wisdom from some big names in politics, entertainment, business, music, and media. The latest additions include philanthropists and business leaders Bill and Melinda Gates; singer-actor Becky G; actor Freida Pinto, stand-up comedian George Lopez; director and actor Henry Winkler; author John Green; singer Mary J. Blige; T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert; actor-singer Rita Wilson; singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; rapper and record producer T.I.; Apple CEO Tim Cook; and news anchor Tom Brokaw.
The lineup will also feature speeches from leading iHeartRadio on-air personalities and podcast hosts, including Ryan Seacrest, Enrique Santos, Angie Martinez, Bobby Bones, Jake Brennan, Angela Yee, Woody and J Cruz.
“The response to Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020 has been amazing and we’re honored to have the opportunity to add even more of today’s most exciting voices to help inspire new graduates,” said Conal Byrne, President of the iHeartPodcast Network. “It’s amazing how quickly this event has come together thanks to the generosity of so many.”
The company also announced that it has secured a trio of sponsors for the event, including Doritos, State Farm, T-Mobile, and the U.S. Census Bureau who are helping ensure the Class of 2020 get the commencement advice they deserve in this unusual graduation year. “One of the coolest things about this is how each of our partners is jumping in to help graduates in their own way,” said Bryne.
For instance, Doritos’ Valedictorian program is awarding each selected student $50,000 in tuition assistance. And T-Mobile is introducing a new way of celebrating graduates with a #TossYourCap Challenge on TikTok.
The podcast series will be published on Friday, May 15. Beginning that day iHeartMedia-owned radio stations across the country will also air featured clips from Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020 every hour. It will then culminate Sunday Night, May 17 – National Graduation Day –with a series of 30-minute on-air commencement specials on all music stations and 60-minute specials on all talk stations. The on-air commencement specials will broadcast on every station between 7pm and midnight local time and feature multiple speeches from the podcasts – taking these inspirational speeches directly to hundreds of millions of graduates nationwide who will miss their commencement celebrations.