As the U.S. grapples with racial injustice, podcasters are under pressure to prove their content can resonate with Black audiences and people of color.
During the three-day 2020 IAB Podcast Upfront that concludes today, publishers, TV and podcast networks, including iHeartMedia, ViacomCBS, NPR, Vox Media and The New York Times, set out to prove to advertisers that they not only embody diversity—but can reach diverse audiences, too.
The virtual event, the first upfront under new Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO David Cohen, was hosted by actress, author and comedian Franchesca Ramsey; networks highlighted famous Black individuals including Oprah Winfrey, Kevin Durant and Charlamagne tha God to speak about their new projects.
On Wednesday, iHeartMedia—which called itself the “world’s largest podcast publisher dedicated to Black listeners"—announced a partnership with Charlamagne to launch the Black Effect Podcast Network this fall with a slate of 18 podcasts across iHeartMedia and other podcast platforms.
The podcasts will feature Black perspectives on topics ranging from mental health to comedy from individuals including social justice activist Tamika Mallory, attorney and TV host Eboni K. Williams and former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner.
Charlamagne’s “The Breakfast Club” podcast, which has 4.5 million weekly listeners, will be the network’s flagship show. Podcasts include "Gangster Chronicles" with MC EIHT, Reggie Wright Jr. and James McDonald; "Straight Shot No Chaser" with Tezlyn Figaro; and "Laugh and Learn" with Flame Monroe, produced by Tiffany Haddish.
"Blackness has an immediate, culture-shifting effect on everything,” Charlamagne said in a statement. “Blackness controls the cool. Blackness is the culture, but Black Voices are not monolithic. The only way to appreciate the diversity of thought and experiences in Black culture is to build a platform for those voices to be heard.”
Pepsi, through its agency OMD, has signed on as the network’s first sponsor.
“This opportunity connects our brands to consumers through the newer trusted medium of podcasting, and more importantly, supports the overall PepsiCo strategic initiative to invest in Black communities and support diverse voices,” Katie Haniffy, head of media at PepsiCo Beverages, said in a statement.