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Google, PRX Unveil Second Slate of Their Podcasts Creator Program (EXCLUSIVE)

Roughly a year after first unveiling its podcasts creator program, Google is renewing its commitment to train budding podcasters. Together with public radio and podcast distributor PRX, Google has chosen 6 podcasters from around the world to participate in the next round of the creator program.

The podcasts included in the second cohort are “37 Graus (‘37 Degrees’)” from São Paulo, Brazil, “City of Women” from Bangalore, India, “Cocktails and Cancer with MJ and Dani” from New York, “De Eso No Se Habla (‘We Don’t Talk About That’)” from Madrid, Spain, “مسرحهية (‘Her Stage’)” from Beirut, Lebanon and “Un periódico de ayer (‘Yesterday’s News’)” from Bogotá, Colombia. (Check below for a detailed description of each title.)

Google and PRX received thousands of applications from more than 100 countries, said Google Podcasts product manager Zack Reneau-Weeden. “Podcasts are a universal medium,” he said.

But while the whole world is listening to podcasts, there has still been an imbalance in terms of who is creating them, and who has the resources for professional productions. Google found that 3 out of 4 podcasts were being produced by men, and people of color made up for an even smaller share of podcasters.

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To narrow that gap, Google teamed up with PRX, a public radio company that has been distributing public radio programs like “The Moth” and “This American Life,” and that has also been building technology and tools for podcasters and public radio entities alike. PRX has been running trainings for podcasters for years, said CEO Kerri Hoffman. “Many people believe that podcasting is simpler than it is,” Hoffman said. “The ramp is pretty high.”

The Google Podcasts creator program consists of nearly 100 hours of in-person training as well as weekly one-hour online check-ins over 20 weeks. Participants also get $40,000 in funding, and participate in a one-week in-person bootcamp in Boston. As part of the program, participants are being tasked with developing a pilot episode, produce a production plan and work on the business side. “We have to move it from a hobby to something that people can be successful at,” said Hoffman.

The first cohort of creators to go through the program consisted of 4 podcast production teams from the U.S. and  2 teams from abroad (pictured above). This time around 5 out of 6 podcasters come from outside of the U.S. That increased international focus has an impact on the accelerator, said PRX director of training Kerry Donahue. “What has made podcasters successful in the U.S. may not work in other parts of the world,” she said, adding: “Podcasts will sound and be different in those areas.”

To further scale the program, Google and PRX are also producing a series of podcasting 101 videos, which are being translated into multiple languages. All of this is meant to level the playing field, and ultimately contribute to an ambitious goal Google set out when it first launched its Google Podcasts platform a year ago: to double global podcast listening.

Of course, Google isn’t the only company heavily investing in podcasting. Spotify, Pandora and others have also been pushing podcasting as a way to make their streaming services more attractive, and podcasting startup Luminary debuted a high-profile line-up of exclusive podcasts earlier this year.

So why partner with Google, instead of some of these other guys? Hoffman said that Google shared PRX’s views on making podcasts accessible for free. “We support open and free access,” she said. “When it’s behind a paywall, it’s not a podcast.”

 

The 6 podcasts selected to be part of the Google podcasts creator program, complete with a description provided by PRX:

  • “37 Graus (‘37 Degrees’)” — São Paulo, Brazil — Portuguese

Named for the average temperature of the human body and intended to convey both science and human warmth, 37 Graus tells stories behind Brazil’s iconic landscapes and events. Co-hosted by Sarah Azoubel Lima and Bia Guimarães, the second season of the podcast is currently in development after the first received critical acclaim.

  • “City of Women” — Bangalore, India — English

In an exploration of how women navigate their lives in Bangalore (population: 10M+), City of Women will bring listeners on hyper-local tours through a variety of workplaces, neighborhoods, and communities. The podcast will be developed by Radhika Viswanathan and Samyuktha Varma.

  • “Cocktails and Cancer with MJ and Dani” — New York, United States — English

With frank and empowering conversations designed to make the word ‘cancer’ a little less terrifying, longtime friends Danielle ‘Dani’ Brown and Michelle ‘MJ’ James—MJ was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015—invite listeners on a journey that ranges from chemotherapy and radiation to a loving abide for a great cocktail. The podcast launched in spring 2019. The second season is in development.

  • “De Eso No Se Habla (‘We Don’t Talk About That’)” — Madrid, Spain — Spanish

While facing her own personal loss, producer and storyteller Isabel Cadenas Cañón began recording an audio atlas of all things absent: missing people, places, and things that might haunt us like ghosts, only without the bedsheets. The podcast is in development.

  • “مسرحهية (‘Her Stage’)” — Beirut, Lebanon — Arabic

In this narrated documentary-style podcast, storyteller Rhea Chedid and journalist Afeef Nessouli, a former producer for The Daily Show, will present a hidden world in Beirut where differences are celebrated, activism is brewing, and the feminine is being redefined. The podcast is in development.

  • “Un periódico de ayer (‘Yesterday’s News’)” — Bogotá, Colombia — Spanish

In a narrative-driven podcast about the personal toll of history, producers Juan Serrano, Daniel Díaz, and Miguel Reyes revisit the past in an effort to highlight the invisible threads that connect past and present, historical, and personal. The podcast is in development.

 

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