The 22 Most Influential Women in Podcasting
This post was originally published on Medium on 6/16/2016.
UPDATE: Collisions has removed the list and posted an apology in its place — and linked to this blog post!
Collisions recently released the Pod 22: A list of the 22 most influential people in podcasting, and the listservs I’m on immediately went wild.
The named “influencers” are certainly notable and deserving of placement on this list — names like Jad Abumrad, Ira Glass, and Alex Blumberg, who have all done their parts to shape the way we’ve come to view (hear?) podcasts.
But there were only two women on the list: Sarah Koenig of Serial and Megan Tan of Millennial.
We can do better than that. We are doing better than that.
So for you all, podcast lovers and consumers and ~hyperglobal thinkfluencers~ alike, here, in no particular order, is a list of women in podcasting who are kicking ass.
Her name is on pretty much every great podcast you know and love because she is a stealthy podcasting witch. She was previously the head of audio at Buzzfeed, where she, Heben Nigatu, Tracy Clayton, and Julia Furlan created family favorites like Another Round and Women of the Hour, and built the team that has connected the words “Buzzfeed” and “podcasts” in your mind (not an easy feat — ask every media company ever). Now she’s founded Pineapple Street Media with longtime Longform colleague Max Linsky, where they’re making podcasts all over the damn place. Fun fact: Jenna is the only female owner of a podcasting company.
Speaking of Buzzfeed, Another Round has been a force in the podcast industry. Started as a fun, drinking-themed podcast, Another Round has evolved into a place to talk about current events, pop culture, mental health, careers, sex, and so much more. Most importantly, Heben and Tracy have created a space to elevate the voices of people of color — the serious, the silly, the petty, everything. In an industry so dominated by white male voices, they’ve asserted their identities and inspired their listeners to do the same.
3. Emily Botein — Vice President, on-demand content, WNYC
Doing the 50,000 foot-level thinking — and the nitty gritty editing — for WNYC’s star podcasts like Death, Sex and Money. Check out her interview on the Tape podcast to hear about her path to this hyper-powerful position at WNYC.
4. Starlee Kine — Host, Mystery Show
Mystery Show was Gimlet Media’s third podcast, and Starlee Kine brought her signature personality, honed on This American Life, to the job. Starlee sprinkles her stories with a super special ~~Starlee dust~~ that infuses them with childlike awe and curiosity in the world. Here’s my favorite Starlee Story ever, for the record.
CYG is the ultimate, “Ladies, do it yourselves” podcast. It’s made with love and it aggressively asserts women’s voices into the discourse. This great episode has inspired the conception of many a lady-anchored podcast.
6. Gina Delvac — Producer, Call Your Girlfriend
Speaking of CYG, I think Gina deserves her own spot here. These lists so frequently overlook the producer, the person cutting the tape and making sure everyone’s phones are off — and frequently, those people are women. Praise hands emojis to the ladies who make it happen.
7. Julie Snyder — Senior producer, This American Life
Quietly making things happen at This American Life and Serial. Lady is a genius.
8. Julie Shapiro — Executive producer at Radiotopia
In addition to the work she does at Radiotopia, Julie is the former Artistic Director at the Third Coast Radio Festival, where she influenced a TON of producers about how they think about sound.
9. Anna Sale — Host, Death, Sex, and Money
She was a reporter at WNYC. She had an idea. She pitched it. She ran with it. And the result was straight magical. Particularly recommend their series on New Orleans for the Hurricane Katrina anniversary.
10. Nazanin Rafsanjani — Creative Director, Gimlet
Nazanin is thinking about how to make podcasting profitabale for Gimlet. Before this, she was a senior producer at the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, and produced for NPR and other podcasts before that. Also, she happens to be married to Gimlet founder Alex Blumberg, who did happen to make it onto the Pod 22 list.
Two woman hosts in one podcast?? How will listeners ever be able to tell their voices apart?!
Jk. After launching, Invisibilia quickly became NPR’s most successful podcast, ~~vocal fry~~ and all. PS: Season 2 is on its way, now with Hanna Rosin as well!
12. Jennifer Ferro — President, KCRW
As president of KCRW, Jennifer Ferro has created 100 hours of original programming a week and is running a $48 million capital campaign to move the station into a state-of-the-art facility in 2017.
13. Ellen Horne — Executive Producer, Audible, Original Content
Ellen Horne is making original storytelling happen at Audible, the company we all know from Midroll podcast advertisements. Before that, she was executive producer at Radiolab, the podcast created by Jad Abumrad, who is on the Pod 22 list (noticing a theme here).
14. Eleanor Kagan — Head of audio, Buzzfeed
Taking over the reigns from Jenna Weiss-Berman, Eleanor makes the magic happen at Another Round and she’s also a freakin geniuis.
15. Caitlin Kenney — Head of new show development, Gimlet
Do I really need to explain? Gimlet needs shows to survive and thrive. She’s making that happen.
16. Crissle West — Cohost, The Read
Crissle West talks about race in an insightful and funny way. The Read is a crucial podcast for any podcast consumer. Also, she was once featured on Beyonce’s Facebook page. A brush with greatness.
17. Laura Walker — President and CEO, WNYC
Laura Walker has made a concerted effort to get more women into podcasting with “WERK IT,” the first ever women’s podcast festival, and WNYC’s inaugural podcast accelerator.
18. Sara Weber — Writer/Editor, Adolescence is a Marketing Tool
As a lady-powered alternative to Nick Quah’s newsletter (which is great also), Sara listens to every podcast that exists ever, each week, and delivers you summaries and recommendations of the best episodes of the week.
19. Kelly McEvers — Host, Embedded
Embedded is NPR’s newest podcast, but Kelly McEvers is hardly new to the game. Before taking on the podcast, she was a foreign correspondent for NPR — listen to her Longform episode here.
20. Hillary Frank — Host, The Longest Shortest Time
Hillary Frank is the host of a wildly popular podcast, and she got her start at This American Life.
21. Kristen Meinzer — Senior producer, Panoply
Formerly of WNYC, Kristen now produces for Panoply, a major player in the podcast space, obvi.
22. Kerri Hoffman — CEO, PRX
She’s been a non-profit executive for over 20 years, focusing on financial management and business development. Side note: Who would have thought there’d be so many lady executives on this list?
Special thanks to the members of my radio and feminist listservs who sent me names and descriptions for many of these amazing women.
A disclaimer: This is by no means an exhaustive list — 22 is more for rhetorical effect than anything else. Do you know someone who should definitely be on this list? Add her name in the comments and tell me why she’s awesome! Because guess what: Representation of women shouldn’t just be a quota to fill. We dominate.