A Media Operator is a community for entrepreneurs and operators in the digital media space. This podcast is a natural extension of the newsletter (www.amediaoperator.com) and community that has already been built. Each week, I will interview entrepreneurs and operators that are building these media companies. Over the course of approximately an hour, we'll discuss their businesses, their success and failures, and, ultimately, what they learned about building media companies.
This podcast will provide actionable insights for current and prospective media operators. That means we're not only talking strategies in media, but also the tactics. We'll be diving into business models, audience development, subscription, commerce, advertising, audio, video—you name it, we'll be discussing it.
A Media Operator is also very much about niche media. That doesn't mean small. To me, niche media means depth. We should celebrate these stories and there are plenty of them. On this podcast, you'll finally hear them.
Wherever you listen to podcasts, hit that subscribe button so you know when I release an episode. As the show starts, considering rating it and leaving a comment so I know how I'm doing. I view A Media Operator as a tool for you; if I'm failing, I want to know.
Thanks for tuning in today and I'll be talking with you soon.
Amanda Hesser and Food52's Journey With Food, Media, and Commerce
Amanda Hesser is the co-founder and CEO of Food52, a media, and commerce brand dedicated to the wonderful world of food. With a blend of content and commerce, Food52 has become one of the most impactful brands in the food industry and is now growing to touch more parts of the home.
Naomi Shah on Building Meet Cute One 15-Minute Romcom Episode At a Time
Naomi Shah is the founder and CEO of Meet Cute, an audio romcom media company. With a focus on creating consistent 15-minute episodes versus trying to aim for hits, Meet Cute is building a robust catalog of IP that the company could use in the future for exciting opportunities.
During this episode, we talked about a lot, but a few things jumped out to me…
On consistency vs. hits
For many studios, the goal is to create a hit. They create a few big projects every year with the hope that when one is released, people will flock to it and it’ll be an economic success.
That’s not Meet Cute’s approach. Instead, the team strives to consistently deliver on its proposition: a 15-minute romcom audio episode. It doesn’t deviate from consistently delivering that product to people.
The benefit here is that the listener builds a relationship with the Meet Cute brand while the company is less dependent on any one piece of content being a savior of the business. I like the consistency over hits approach.
On IP and monetization
The easy road for monetizing would be throwing a quick ad in the beginning of an episode. But for a 15 minute show, a 30-60 second ad eats up a lot of time.
Instead, they are looking at all the IP they’re creating as an opportunity to monetize down the line. Consider opportunities like merchandise tied to specific characters. As people fall in love with them, they’ll want to represent those characters.
Another opportunity is taking these audio stories and turning them into videos. Could they take their IP and partner with Netflix to create a movie or limited series? When you own valuable IP, your means of monetization are endless.
On using data to inform decisions
While there is definitely a limited amount of data in audio, some of what they look for is how far into an episode a user got, how many actually completed the full episode, and how many went on to additional episodes.
With that limited data, they are able to push that back into their writing flywheel. For example, if they’ve found that cliffhangers often work, that might become part of their strategy going forward.
Mario Gabriele on Building His New Media Company, The Generalist
Mario Gabriele is the founder of The Generalist, a tech publication that tells stories about companies from idea to IPO. The company is new, but he has learned quite a bit about launching a paid subscription and the early days of building a community.
Jesse Jacobs and Mike Kerns of The Chernin Group Talk Investing in Media
Jesse Jacobs and Mike Kerns are co-founders of The Chernin Group, an investment firm known for their involvement in companies including Barstool Sports, Food52, MeatEater, and so many more. Part of the reason they have found such success is because they have been diligent with executing their thesis.
David Nemetz on Over a Decade of Building Digital Media Companies
David Nemetz is the GM of Culture and Innovation at Bustle Digital Group, overseeing brands including Inverse, Input, and Mic. He is also the former co-founder of Bleacher Report, which unlike many digital media companies that started at a similar time, actually had a successful exit.
Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau on The Digital Transformation of MIT Technology Review
Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau is the CEO and Publisher of MIT Technology Review, the oldest technology magazine in the world. Over the past few years, the business has been going through a transformation of building out the tools and processes to run a digital-first media business.
Please make more!
Love this podcast, learning a lot, and I hope you make more episodes!
Five Stars for Jacob
I’ve recommended this podcast already to many people. Not only is Jacob one of the most well researched hosts but he’s also picking the best guests which show his subject matter expertise. By best I mean most adored niche B2B media companies. Highly recommend.
A Media Operator is a Must Listen
Jay is a crusher. If you are in the media business, you need to listen to his podcast. If you aren’t, you will be fired because you are missing knowledge bombs from Jay.