Three new executives join the Obamas’ Higher Ground audio production team

Audio team to include new hires from Spotify, Crooked Media, and Pushkin Industries

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s media company Higher Ground has expanded its audio production team with the hire of three new executives.

Corinne Gilliard will act as senior VP of documentaries, coming from her previous role as executive for studios and partnerships at Spotify. Her podcast experience also includes being Crooked Media’s first head of development where she helped develop political podcast Pod Save America and build the company’s original podcast portfolio in its early stages. 

Nick White, previously an executive producer at podcast publisher Pushkin Industries, also joins the audio team as senior vice-president of original audio with a background in producing shows like music documentary podcast Lost Notes. Lastly, sound designer and engineer Andrew Eapen, who previously worked on audio projects for Higher Ground like Renegades: Born in the USA - which is hosted by president Obama and singer Bruce Springsteen - has joined as director of audio production. 

In addition to the new appointments, Higher Ground also announced that it will be promoting its previous vice-president of audio Mukta Mohan to head of audio content. Mohan joined the company in 2020 from Crooked Media and has since worked as an executive producer for a number of Higher Ground’s original podcasts including Renegades: Born In The USA and The Michelle Obama Podcast.

“We’re bolstering our incredible audio team by bringing in outside superstars and elevating our stellar internal talent,” said Higher Ground head of audio Dan Fierman, who all three new hires will report to. “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.”

The move to expand Higher Ground’s audio team comes after the decision not to renew the company’s exclusive deal with Spotify, which ended in October 2022. Spotify will continue to retain certain distribution rights for shows that were produced during the deal with Higher Ground, however, including The Michelle Obama Podcast and Renegades: Born in the USA

In June 2022, Higher Ground announced that it has signed a new multiyear audio project contract with Audible which will reflect both companies’ visions to lift up diverse voices and experiences. Shows produced as part of the deal will be distributed on a range of platforms rather than being exclusive to Audible. In addition to this, Higher Ground has another TV and film deal with Netflix which was formed in 2018.