Podcasting? Radio? It’s all one big opportunity for iHeartMedia digital CEO Conal Byrne
We taped this episode live at Hot Pod Summit. That’s our conference for the podcast industry. We have a whole newsletter for podcasters. It’s called Hot Pod, written by our very own Ariel Shapiro. Hot Pod Summit is where we bring that community of creators, trendsetters and decision-makers together to explore the latest developments in podcasting, audiobooks, and more. It was a packed house and a great time.
We ended the day by recording our first-ever live Decoder with Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeartMedia’s digital audio group. Conal oversees podcasting at a giant radio company, and his group accounts for a quarter of iHeart’s revenue, which was $1 billion last quarter alone. His team makes some of the biggest podcasts around, with huge talent like Will Ferrell, Shonda Rhimes, and Charlamagne tha God, who you’ll hear Conal talk about quite a lot.
Conal and iHeart Digital earned that success by doing some unconventional things. Whereas other big podcasting players like Spotify and Apple have tried to boost revenue through subscriptions or platform exclusivity, Conal shunned those approaches and said he’s going for big audience reach, made possible in part by his ability to run ads and even shows on iHeart’s huge network of traditional radio stations.
But that maverick approach has included some controversial steps as well. Last year, Verge alumni and Bloomberg reporter Ashley Carman reported that iHeart worked with a firm called Jun Group to essentially buy podcast downloads through video games. To many in the industry, that seemed pretty disingenuous. So of course I asked Conal about that and lots more. He was a great guest, super game to answer the questions, especially in front of a live audience.
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Decoder with Nilay Patel (@decoderpod) Official | TikTok
Decoder is a production of The Verge and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
It was produced by Creighton DeSimone and Jackie McDermott and it was edited by Callie Wright.
The Decoder music is by Breakmaster Cylinder. Our Editorial Director is Brooke Minters and our Executive Director is Eleanor Donovan.
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