In today’s podcast roundup, Michelle Obama gets personal in conversations with celeb friends about her recently published book in a new series for Audible; Kelly Ripa teams with SiriusXM; Louis Theroux is bringing a podcast to Spotify; and Dan Abrams’ Law&Crime digs into the history of the Sarah Lawrence College sex cult.
Amazon’s Audible and the Obamas’ Higher Ground today announced “Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast,” releasing March 7, 2023, featuring the former First Lady’s conversations with celebrities covering topics in her recently released book “The Light We Carry: Overcoming Uncertain Times.” The podcast is the first original project under the recently formed exclusive multiyear first-look production deal between Audible and Higher Ground. “The Light Podcast” will feature Michelle Obama’s discussions on her recent book tour with friends like Ellen DeGeneres, Tyler Perry, Conan O’Brien, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Hoda Kotb and David Letterman. The series will released weekly; each of the eight episodes will be exclusively on Audible for two weeks, then available widely. Michelle Obama said in a statement: “Like so many people around the world, I felt isolated, disconnected, and discouraged during the pandemic. Writing ‘The Light We Carry’ was a way for me to make sense of it and reflect on some of the biggest challenges we all face in life — and the [book] tour was an incredible way to share those stories with my readers and connect with real people once again. The best part is that this time around I got to bring some of my best friends and favorite personalities to join in the fun. That’s what Michelle Obama: The Light Podcast is all about — it’s a deeper examination of those fun and meaningful moments, lovingly made by our incredible team at Higher Ground and the fantastic people at Audible.”
Law&Crime launched narrative podcast series, “Devil in the Dorm,” hosted by actress Elisabeth Rohm, exclusively available ad-free on Wondery+ starting Jan. 30. The six-part podcast series dives into the case of Lawrence “Larry” Ray, a man who moved into a dormitory at Sarah Lawrence College in 2010 while his daughter attended the school. Ray, a now convicted racketeer and sex trafficker, preyed on students and is often described as the leader of a “sex cult” at the college. Rohm, who also serves as executive producer on the project, brings her firsthand perspective to the project: She’s a graduate and former board member of Sarah Lawrence. Law&Crime president Rachel Stockman, Stephen Tolkin and Sam Goldberg also serve as executive producers on the podcast, which was produced and edited by Brad Maybe, written by Law&Crime’s Adam Klasfeld, Elieen Macfarlane and Emily G. Thompson of “The Shattered Window” podcast. The podcast debuted ahead of Hulu’s Feb. 9 premiere of docuseries “Stolen Youth: Inside the Cult at Sarah Lawrence.”
Comedian Jessi Cruickshank is launching her first podcast series, “Phone a Friend With Jessi Cruickshank,” through a partnership with independent podcast company Acast. The podcast will premiere Feb. 9 with Dan Levy as the first guest, and will release weekly on Thursdays thereafter. The premiere episode will mark the first on-air reunion of Cruickshank and Levy, who were co-hosts of MTV’s “The Hills: The After Show” over a decade ago. In “Phone a Friend,” Cruickshank will explore trending topics with everyday people “in her signature irreverent, funny and relatable way,” per the producers.
Cruickshank quipped: “I’ve always had a face for podcasting. Now I’ll finally get to use it on a platform where I can say all the things I can’t say anywhere else. Because you can’t get in trouble from a podcast, can you? Wait… can you?” Acast is distributing “Phone a Friend” across multiple podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and Google Podcasts.
Exile Content Studio and public media company PRX launched a new multiseason podcast series, “Shoot the Messenger,” with the first two episodes of the premiere season debuting Jan. 24. Hosted by Exile’s Rose Reid and Nando Vila, each 10-episode season will be a serialized investigation of a high-profile crime — that is often unsolved — with global implications. Season 1 is themed “Espionage, Murder and Pegasus Software,” is the result of a special partnership with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), inspired by the research conducted by CPJ into the biggest threats facing journalists in the world today. The series examines the assassination of U.S.-based Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, exposing the role of NSO Group’s Pegasus software in tracking his inner circle prior to his murder, and “reveals the growing threat of surveillance to people, journalists and activists across the globe.” The series features interviews with Khashoggi’s widow, Hanan Elatr, and Washington Post reporter Dana Priest, a former colleague of Khashoggi, who helped Elatr discover that Pegasus software had been used on her phone over the course of several years, including the last five months of Khashoggi’s life.
Kelly Ripa is hosting an all-new podcast produced by Milojo Productions, the production company headed by Ripa and husband Mark Consuelos, in collaboration with SiriusXM. Set to debut in March 2023, “Let’s Talk Off Camera With Kelly Ripa” will be home to “edgy and honest conversations” between Ripa and a celebrity guest, according to SiriusXM. “After 23 years of interviewing celebrities, authors, musicians and experts on live TV, the big takeaway is that the most compelling and unfiltered conversations happen off camera,” Ripa said in a statement. She currently is co-host with Ryan Seacrest of morning talk show “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” The agreement gives SXM Media, SiriusXM’s combined ad sales group, exclusive global ad sales rights for “Let’s Talk Off Camera with Kelly Ripa.” New episodes of the podcast are expected to be available weekly on Stitcher, the SXM App and major podcast platforms.
Spotify ordered two seasons of “The Louis Theroux Podcast,” hosted by the award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist broadcaster and author. The nine-episode first season is set to bow exclusively on the platform starting later this spring; Spotify has confirmed a second season as well. Listeners will join Theroux as he drops into the lives of notable stars from both sides of the Atlantic, embarking on in-depth and freewheeling conversations. Speaking about his brand-new podcast, Louis Theroux said: “I am thrilled to be back hosting podcasts. Long form conversation is a dream format for me – when I started doing them a few years ago, I couldn’t believe how much response I was getting. I’ve been a fan and user of Spotify since forever, it’s easy to use, and the podcast will be free, so it’s a perfect platform. The plan is for this to be an intelligent and fun space to connect with a variety of high-profile guests. You can listen while cooking, doing the laundry, and even cycling, though that’s not recommended as you may be so entertained your concentration could lapse.” “The Louis Theroux Podcast” is produced by Mindhouse Productions.
CNN Audio hired Steve Lickteig as executive producer of podcast and audio content, managing production and strategy. He reports to Katie Hinman, CNN’s VP of development, whose portfolio includes overseeing the CNN Audio brand, which produces original programming such as “All There Is With Anderson Cooper,” “The Assignment With Audie Cornish,” “Chasing Life With Dr. Sanjay Gupta” and “The Axe Files With David Axelrod.” Lickteig is co-founder of Small Good Thing, a podcast consulting and development company. Prior to that, he was executive producer of podcasts and audio for NBC News and MSNBC. He also spent three years running the Slate Podcast Network, overseeing 25 shows, including “Slow Burn,” “Decoder Ring” and Slate’s daily news podcast, “What Next.” Before joining Slate, Lickteig was executive producer of NPR’s “Weekend All Things Considered.”