NPR, Wondery, and Sony announce new shows at IAB Podcast Upfronts

Podcasts to feature big names like Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Three audio powerhouses - Wondery, NPR, and Sony Music - have all made new podcast launch announcements at yesterday’s IAB Podcast Upfronts event. 

The IAB Podcast Upfronts is an annual podcast advertising summit which brings together brands, agencies, and media buyers to preview the latest innovations in podcasting through content and insights presentations from a number of speakers. 

Non-profit organisation NPR announced the launch of a new podcast by award-winning journalist Rachel Martin, the founding host of NPR’s morning news podcast Up First and former co-host of Morning Edition. Martin’s newest tech and the human body project titled Body Electric explores the human body and how its changing with technological advancements like the impact of artificial intelligence. 

“I've spent more than 20 years at NPR as a correspondent and a host thinking about the external events that shape us… I've been craving a different kind of interrogation and internal exploration of what it means to be human and how we derive meaning in a world that feels like it's breaking apart,” said Martin at the IAB presentation. “So this is what my new project’s about; we're gonna bring you intimate conversations with people going through the same thing, people who are trying to build their own spiritual identities, trying to find their own answers to how to help them lead more meaningful lives.” 

Although Martin did not reveal any more information about the release date of the series, she played a preview clip talking to musician Bono about the religious underpinnings of U2’s music. This is the first podcast announcement from NPR following its cancellation of four podcasts at the end of March this year due to cost cuts after facing $30 million in operating budget loss the month prior.

Sony Music also made a new weekly podcast announcement with Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, launching 23 May. The series, titled Dinner’s On Me, follows Ferguson’s exploration of restaurants across LA and NYC, featuring celebrity guests including his former co-star Julie Bown in the first episode. Other special guests include Grey’s Anatomy Jesse Williams and Kristen Bell to discuss themes from mental health to imposter syndrome and relationships.

Other announcements from Sony Music included Jonathan Van Ness’ podcast Getting Curious, joining Sony Music Entertainment’s slate of shows in the summer, and another new Black history podcast from author Michael Harriott titled Drapetomaniax: Unshackled History which is premiering 19 June, in partnership with Pharrell’s production company OTHERtone. 

“Sony Music’s Global Podcast Division is proud to be a place where podcasters are artists,”said Sony Music Entertainment ad sales vice president Nick Southwell-Keely. “Our premium shows and top creative talent provide robust opportunities for advertisers to work with us to go beyond the midroll and engage listeners in a variety of ways across our network.”

Lastly, Amazon Music subsidiary Wondery announced the launch of a six-part true-crime podcast titled Spellcaster: The Fall of Sam Bankman-Fried, which covers the scandal around the young crypto billionaire and alleged fraudster. The podcast which comes out 22 May is a collaboration between Wondery and Bloomberg, following the success of The Shrink Next Door and is hosted by Bloomberg crypto and tech reporter Hannah Miller, along with Bloomberg colleagues Max Chafkin and Annie Massa.