The name is based on Hill’s Spotify-exclusive podcast “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered,” which the audio-streaming platform has renewed for a third season.
Hill, a provocative culture critic, journalist and multifaceted creator, will work with longtime rep Evan Dick of Exit 39 and a team of creatives and executives to develop podcasts for The Unbothered Network in collaboration with Spotify.
“The Unbothered Network is more than just a content hub — it’s a space where Black women can hopefully see their full selves,” Hill said in a statement. “There’s so much about the lives of Black women that haven’t been fully explored, and so many of our stories have either been dismissed or overlooked. I’m also proud of this network because it not only centers Black women, but it’s also run by Black women. We can’t empower Black women if we’re not positioning them in leadership roles.”
Courtney Holt, Spotify’s head of studios and video, lauded Hill as “an acclaimed journalist, storyteller, podcaster and creative — whose bold and authentic takes on social politics, sports and culture have shined a spotlight on topics that are often overlooked.” He added, “We can’t wait for her to continue her podcast, and bring new and diverse talent to her network that amplifies and strengthens the voices of this important community.”
The pact with Hill is the latest in a string of investments by Spotify to expand its podcast business. It recently signed an exclusive deal for Alex Cooper’s “Call Her Daddy,” after securing exclusive agreements with top podcasters Joe Rogan and Dax Shepard. Spotify also has exclusive deals for original podcasts from the Obamas, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and Ava DuVernay.
Among the execs joining The Unbothered Network is Christina Tapper, executive producer and head of content, who also will serve as an executive producer at Spotify Studios. She will lead the strategy and development of Unbothered’s original content. Tapper previously has held senior editorial leadership roles at Medium, where she helped grow Zora, a digital publication by, for, and about Black women, and Bleacher Report. She started her career in media at People and Sports Illustrated.
Tapper, in a prepared statement, said, “I’m beyond grateful and excited to join Jemele and Spotify in building an audio home where Black women are primary. I’m energized by the work of creating an expansive portfolio of premium podcasts for Black women listeners and by Black women creators at The Unbothered Network. We’ll tap into a variety of formats and genres to do just that.”
Rich Boerner, who most recently spent four years as SVP of programming and operations at podcast studio Cadence 13, has joined The Unbothered Network as head of network operations and production. He’s also worked at PodcastOne, CBS Radio (now part of Audacy) and Hot 97 NYC.
Hill launched her podcast on Spotify in April 2019. “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” features conversations with newsmakers across entertainment, culture, music and politics. Guests on her show have included Vice President Kamala Harris, Ava DuVernay, Common, Ice Cube, Spike Lee, Gabrielle Union, Chelsea Clinton, Dan Rather, Stephen Colbert, Issa Rae, Taraji P. Henson and Soledad O’Brien. In April 2020, Hill and Van Lathan launched “The Wire: Way Down in the Hole,” a podcast from The Ringer (acquired by Spotify earlier last year) that breaks down every episode on the HBO original series.
Hill, an award-winning journalist, is the co-founder of production company Lodge Freeway Media and a contributing writer for The Atlantic.
Hill had previously spent 12 years at ESPN, where she had cohosted an edition of “SportsCenter” and contributed to other shows, before leaving the network in 2018. Last summer, Hill and her longtime friend, former ESPN anchor Cari Champion, launched a weekly, late-night show on Vice Network called “Cari & Jemele: Won’t Stick to Sports,” covering politics, sports, news, current events and pop culture.
This spring, Hill was tapped as an adviser to Meadowlark Media, the content studio startup focused on sports creators headed by former ESPN chief John Skipper and ex-ESPN host Dan Le Batard. Hill also is stretching her muscles behind the camera. In addition, she is set to produce an ESPN documentary on former NFL quarterback and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick. Hill also is developing a comedy series for Showtime with Gabrielle Union.