In this week’s podcast news roundup, Hallmark sets its first-ever scripted podcast, a “romance mystery” starring Malinda Williams, Amanda Seales and Keith D. Robinson; Ron Howard executive produces an improv workplace comedy with iHeart; Audible and the Obamas’ Higher Ground launch “Your Mama’s Kitchen,” in which guests tell host Michele Norris about… their mama’s kitchen; ex-UTA agent Jed Baker launched kids and family podcast network Starglow Media; and more.
Hallmark Media is launching its first scripted podcast, “Crimson Hearts Collide,” billed as “a soulful romance-mystery story spun from the company’s Mahogany content initiative.” The eight-part podcast series, produced by Aliza Rosen’s AYR Media, will premiere its first two episodes Aug. 24 followed by new episodes every Thursday, available wherever listeners find their favorite podcasts. The cast of “Crimson Hearts Collide” includes Malinda Williams (“Soul Food”), Amanda Seales (“Insecure”) and Keith D. Robinson (“Sister Swap: A Hometown Holiday”). The podcast’s logline: Sonora Williams (Williams), a top lawyer in New York City, receives a letter in the mail that changes everything: Sonora has an uncle who just passed away and left her an inheritance, a farm in Alabama. For her entire life growing up in foster care, she was told she had no family leaving her to wonder, if he knew about her, why did he not come for her? In order to get the answers she seeks, Sonora must leave her best friend in NYC (Seales) and close-knit community to travel to Greenville, Ala., and meet the people who keep the farm running – including the handsome cowboy Zeke Summers (Robinson), who immediately captures her attention. (Pictured above: Malinda Williams, Keith D. Robinson)
Comedy improv series “Employees Only,” executive produced by filmmaker Ron Howard, launched Aug. 17. From iHeartPodcasts and Imagine Audio, the podcast features “the news of the day through the comedic voices of the colorful employees” who work for fictional retail giant “Buywell.” The cast includes Jared Logan (Stuber), Kara Klenk (That’s Messed Up: An SVU Podcast), Kurt Braunohler (Who Killed Santa, The Big Sick), Clayton English (House of Payne, Hawkeye, Lyle Lyle Crocodile), James Adomian (Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay, Velma), Subah Agarwal (Westworld), Madison Shepard (Barry, Single Drunk Female), Ross Bryant (The Good Place) and Kiesha Zollar (Divorce). The first episode of “Employees Only” is available Thursday, Aug. 17, with new episodes releasing every Thursday. Distributed by iHeartPodcasts and available on all major podcast platforms.
Audible and Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s media company, on Aug. 16 debuted “Your Mama’s Kitchen: Conversations from the Heart of the Home,” an Audible original podcast hosted and executive produced by award-winning journalist Michele Norris. Each episode begins with a simple prompt: “Tell me about your mama’s kitchen.” New episodes will be released weekly; each of the episodes will be exclusively on Audible for two weeks, then available widely wherever podcasts are found. Guests include Kerry Washington, Gayle King, D-Nice, Matthew Broderick, Andy Garcia, W. Kamau Bell, Michael Pollan, José Andrés, Glennon Doyle and Abby Wambach. Listen to the podcast at this link.
Tig Notaro (One Mississippi, Star Trek), Fortune Feimster (Fubar, The Mindy Project) and Mae Martin (Feel Good, The Flight Attendant) will launch comedy and storytelling podcast “Handsome” on Aug. 22, with new episodes to be released every Tuesday. In the show, the three comedians “laugh their way through a candid, far-reaching and uproarious conversation,” fielding a question each week from guests including Kenan Thompson, Atsuko Okatsuka, Neil Patrick Harris, Leisha Hailey, Lil Rel Howery and Jimmy Fallon. Ad sales for “Handsome” will be handled by Gumball, the Headgum-owned marketplace for advertisers for host-read ads. CAA, which represents Notaro, Feimster and Martin, brokered the deal with Gumball.
Spiral Opus Audio, founded by director, producer and animator Roy Burdine (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Ultimate Spider-Man,” “Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”), announced “Mindraker: Background Anger,” an eight-episode sci-fi mystery podcast starring Sean Schemmel (“Dragon Ball Z”). The first episode will premiere Aug. 24, with subsequent episodes available weekly. In “Mindraker: Background Anger,” mankind is under attack, but all the jets, bombs, and bullets on earth are useless against a threat whose inter-dimensional origin transcends the physical world. “Mindraker: Background Anger” will be available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other major podcast platforms.
Spotify’s Ringer Podcast Network and Puck announced “Somebody’s Gotta Win” hosted by Puck senior political correspondent Tara Palmeri examining the upcoming 2024 U.S. presidential election. The first episode will drop on Spotify on Monday, Aug. 21, with episodes releasing 2-3 times per week all the way through the election in November 2024. Prior to being joining Puck, Palmeri was Politico’s chief national correspondent and an author of their Playbook franchise and was a White House correspondent for ABC News. She’s also the host of the Discovery+ documentary “Dr. Delirium & the Edgewood Experiments.”
Starglow Media, an audio network focused on kids and family content, launched with a slate of licensed programming. Founder and CEO Jed Baker previously worked in UTA’s TV and podcast departments, repping industry players including Wondery, iHeart and Audible. In addition, Agerenesh Ashagre Palmer, formerly an executive producer at Pineapple Street Studios, serves as Starglow’s VP of operations. Investors include UTA, Powerhouse Capital, Watertower Ventures, BDMI, K5, UTA board members Matt Rice and Peter Benedek, Parcast founder Max Cutler and Jenna Bush Hager alongside her company Thousand Voices. Starglow Media’s initial lineup of shows, aimed at kids 3-12, includes “Stories Podcast” and “Stories Podcast Sleep Series,” “Who Smarted?”, “KidNuz” and “Girl Tales.” Starglow says it will launch original programming in the coming months “featuring prominent names across entertainment, sports and more.”
Libsyn (Liberated Syndication Inc.), which hosts a podcasting platform for creators and advertisers, announced Predictive Contextual Targeting, a cookie-free targeting solution “designed to empower podcast advertisers with contextually relevant, efficient and privacy-friendly ad targeting capabilities.” Collectively, Libsyn’s AdvertiseCast and Libsyn’s Julep Media now offer advertisers access to a total combined inventory of approximately 500 million monthly impressions worldwide, according to the company.
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