“Indies should not be discouraged” — Wondery CEO Jen Sargent

“Indies should not be discouraged” was the encouragement offered by Wondery CEO Jen Sargent to a hall full of podcasters at Podcast Movement Evolutions 2022 in Los Angeles Wednesday morning. Brought onstage by The Infinite Dial presenter Tom Webster, Sargent talked about podcasting’s growth, and how podcaster’s could view the future.

“I am looking for podcasting to be a mass market medium,” Sargent said. “The data signal that to me.” She noted that there has been an influx of casual listeners every year, despite the pandemic.

The Wondery boss broke out three key pieces of advice to grow independent podcasting:

  1. Diversity. Podcast audience should mimic the diversity of the population. “We need to be thoughtful about diversity of content. That way more consumers will find content and become habituated.”
  2. Expand the podcast pie. “How do we get everyone listening? Part of it is meeting consumers where they are.” She recommended a YouTube presence, echoing advice Tom Webster has given at previous Podcast Movement keynotes.
  3. Serve underserved audiences. Sargent discussed the age demographic extremities — over-55 and 12-24, saying both are underserved. At Wondery, she said, “we’re trying to program more content to that audience. As we do more, we’ll see them become habitual listeners.”

Her suggestions continued beyond the bullet points: “Figure out the ‘why.’ Why is someone going to displace a podcast [they’re already listening to] with yours? And recommend your show to friends?”

She talked about low-hanging fruit in promoting shows. “Think about doing swaps, and leveraging the hell out of your RSS feed. Don’t forget about YouTube — a sleeping giant, and a great platform for discovery.”


Brad Hill