Arielle Nissenblatt has created probably the best job in the world — professional podcast listener. She is the founder and head curator of the EarBuds Podcast Collective, a network that promotes podcasts and audio content through a curated weekly newsletter, podcast, and events.
Arielle is also the marketing and business development manager at Castbox, where she runs social media and helps podcasters with discoverability.
Through EarBuds, she’s created a platform to showcase creators who are pushing the envelope.
“I love when people get super creative with how many podcasts there are out there and how amazing the content is out there and how niche it can get,” she says on an episode of Between 2 Mics. “I think it’s so amazing.”
Pro tips from a professional podcast listener
Arielle has turned a love of podcasts into a career promoting and helping audiences discover great podcasts they otherwise wouldn’t find.
Though we didn’t book Arielle on the podcast in response to the reaction to our initial advisory board announcement last year, we were happy the opportunity presented to have a more in-depth discussion about diversity in the industry and our role in promoting diversity as a startup.
Here are her tips on boosting creativity and diversity in podcasting.
1. Audio is a unique opportunity for meaningful content
Audio as a medium has carved out a new way for content creators to engage an audience.
“Podcasts have made me way more of an empathetic person,” Arielle says, echoing how a lot of us feel about the medium. “They’ve exposed me to stories I would never otherwise come across…Podcasts are an amazing way to get right into your brain with whatever you’re listening to.”
That intimacy, combined with the newness of the medium, makes podcasting an important platform for experimentation and creativity.
“I think a lot of people fall on the easy things that make money and are safe, and that is so understandable,” Arielle says. “…but, also, the podcast industry is so new. So let’s get weird with it.”
She encourages would-be and new podcasters to listen first. Listen to a range of podcasts to see what’s out there, learn what works, what audiences like, what others are doing — and what they’re not doing that leaves an opportunity for you to create something unique.
If you’re not going to think outside the box, she asks, “what’s the point of this whole thing if we’re not trying to actually create meaningful content?”
2. Podcasting can set the standard for diversity in media
Lack of diversity is a problem in every industry. But, Arielle points out regarding promoting women in podcasting, the industry is well poised to set a better standard because it’s so young.
“In podcasting, we’re in a unique spot, because we’re still in the infancy,” she says. “I actually think right now is the time for us to be so vocal about it [the lack of gender diversity] and to call out when we see problems, because that means that we can nip them in the bud early.”
Because we’re still developing as an industry, podcasters and other audio creators have an opportunity to learn from and avoid the mistakes of other industries.
“There are tons of media companies being created by women — for women, as well as for everyone else,” Arielle explains. “And those are awesome, and we need more of those to combat the fact that in other industries, that has not been the case.”
3. Diversity starts with the pipeline
Arielle points out a common cop-out for any company’s inability to add women to its leadership and workforce: living in a bubble.
“The excuse is often that ‘we knew a lot of men prior, so obviously those are going to be the people that we call on,’” she says.
When companies fail to hire women leaders, the problem is not a lack of talented women in any industry. Instead, when representation misses the mark, it’s a pipeline issue — a lack of focus on reaching outside of our bubble and building a diverse network in the first place.
So, build a better pipeline.
Arielle’s simplest tip to help us adjust our mindset about gender diversity is to overcompensate.
“If you think you need to talk to five women, triple that, talk to 15 women, get 15 perspectives,” she says. “…If you think you need one woman on your board, triple it.”
We also, across industries, need to stop thinking of women “just as people who can represent the women’s perspective of something,” Arielle says.
4. Don’t be afraid to speak up
We’re grateful to everyone in the podcast community who, like Arielle, reached out to share their thoughts on how our advisory board announcement made them feel and how we can move forward in a better direction.
Arielle points out, “We need everybody to be calling out injustice when they see it,” because that’s how we’re going to catch and correct these blind spots.
For more useful advice on diversity in podcasting from Arielle Nissenblatt, listen to this episode of Between 2 Mics. Be sure to subscribe to get future episodes directly in your preferred podcast player.
Rockwell Felder is a CPA, entrepreneur, and co-founder of SquadCast. He and his team are on a mission to amplify collaboration, seeking to empower creatives to engage in meaningful conversations without barriers.