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Obamas’ Higher Ground Expands Podcast Team, Hiring Execs From Spotify and Pushkin

Company has first-look deal with Audible for audio productions after ending exclusive Spotify pact

Higher Ground podcast executives
Courtesy of Higher Ground

Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s media company, announced the expansion of its audio team with a trio of executive hires. In addition, the company promoted Mukta Mohan to head of audio content; her previous title was VP of audio.

The three new hires are: Corinne Gilliard, who joins Higher Ground as senior VP, documentaries, from Spotify, where she was a senior executive for studios and partnerships; Nick White, named senior VP, original audio, after serving as an executive producer at Malcolm Gladwell and Jacob Weisberg’s Pushkin Industries; and sound designer, composer and engineer Andrew Eapen, who has joined as director of audio production. Mohan, Gilliard, White and Eapen report to Higher Ground head of audio Dan Fierman.

The moves come after Higher Ground inked a first-look podcast deal with Audible earlier this year and ended its exclusive pact with Spotify.

“We’re bolstering our incredible audio team by bringing in outside superstars and elevating our stellar internal talent,” Fierman said in a statement. “Mukta is a beloved and wildly creative member of our team who has delivered consistently excellent work on our biggest projects while Corinne and Nick are audio veterans with exceptional industry expertise and impeccable track records, and we are also very excited to welcome Andrew. The future of audio at Higher Ground is very bright.”

At Spotify Studios, Gilliard oversaw key partnerships with Higher Ground and J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot and was executive producer on “The RapCaviar Podcast,” “Sound Barrier: Sylvester,” “Dope Labs” and “Abolition X.” Prior to Spotify, Gilliard worked on the final seasons of “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and produced the first slate of nonfiction content for OWN, including the Emmy-winning series “SuperSoul Sunday” and travel docuseries “Oprah’s Next Chapter.” She later produced “Oprah with Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special.” She also was Crooked Media’s first head of development where she helped pioneer the “Pod Save America” live show format and launched the company’s first original slate of podcasts.

White was an executive producer at Pushkin and worked on projects including “Miracle & Wonder: Conversations with Paul Simon.” He was the creator and executive producer of KCRW’s “Lost Notes,” a music documentary podcast, and worked to develop, launch and produce several other podcasts including “Welcome to L.A.,” “Bodies” and “UnFictional.” Prior to that White spent several years as senior producer for NPR’s “Bullseye With Jesse Thorn,” a pop-culture interview program. In 2011 he produced episodes of Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast for national broadcast via PRX.

Eapen has worked in podcasting, TV and film and has worked on audio projects for Higher Ground, HBO, Pineapple Street, NBC, the L.A. Times and others. Eapen’s podcast credits include “Renegades: Born in the USA,” “California Love” and “The Thing About Pam”; his TV and film credits include “Shameless” and “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.”

Higher Ground’s podcasts for Spotify have included “The Big Hit Show,” a series of audio documentaries hosted by Alex Pappademas focused on influential popular culture; “Tell Them, I Am,” a podcast collection of stories from Muslim voices; “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a series of conversations between Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen; “The Michelle Obama Podcast”; and “The Sum of Us” series, based on Heather McGhee’s bestselling book “The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together.”

Formed in 2018, Higher Ground also has an exclusive TV and film deal with Netflix.

Pictured above (l. to r.): Mukta Mohan, Corinne Gilliard, Nick White, Andrew Eapen