Erica Mandy is the creator and host of The Newsworthy, a “fast, fair and fun” daily news podcast that breaks down the headlines in fifteen minutes or less. She’s up against the heavy hitters—NPR, The New York Times, and CBS News—so today we talk to her about what running a small podcast in a big pond is like.
If you think television journalism is glamorous, Erica Mandy is here to set you straight. She started as a “one-woman band” in a small TV news market, where reporting on location often meant that she was the photographer, camera operator, writer, editor...all while also being the on-air journalist. “That weeds out the people who are in it just to be on TV,” she laughs, comparing her small-town news experience to “grad school” for TV journalists. Over the next seven years, she worked in successively larger markets, finally landing at CBS News in Los Angeles. She was there for three years, working on-air in the second-largest TV news market in the country.
But Erica’s passion wasn’t just the news—it was the news in a whole new way. In 2017, she left CBS to launch The NewsWorthy, a daily news podcast that offered a “fair, fast and fun” look at the day’s top stories, all delivered in fifteen minutes or less. When she started, audiences were tuning out the news altogether, saying it was too biased, time-consuming, depressing, and overwhelming. “Those were the four words everyone kept saying,” she says. She decided to solve the problem for people who didn’t want to be left out of the current-events loop altogether, but who needed a different avenue to consume it.
She knew she was on the right track when the heavy hitters started launching their own podcasts. From the time she conceived the idea to the day she finished her contract with CBS New, Erica watched a number of big players enter the arena with their own news podcasts. After a brief crisis of confidence, she decided to forge ahead. “I realized that the whole point of me starting this was that I brought something new to the table. I offered something unique, which was the vibe of the show.” Her credibility as a journalist allowed her to cultivate a more independent viewpoint on current affairs, allowing folks to trust her unbiased POV and her approachable voice.
Instead of competition, Erica now sees the bigger producers like NPR as allies. The big shops are an entry point for listeners, who might start with the biggest news shows, but then look around for what else is out there. That’s where The NewsWorthy lives.
After her first year, she looked back and asked two questions: “Did I start to make money? And am I moving in the right direction?” She had made her first dollar, and listeners were reaching out to say they felt more informed and more able to participate in civil life— she even inspired some new voters!
She’s also expanded her team so she can focus on growing the podcast “as a business,” taking a data-driven approach to advertising, as well as partnering with investors who bring not just money, but also visibility, credibility, and the ability to hire additional staffers. “Some of those resources that I got from the investment, were more important than the funding.” Her focus has switched from delivering daily content to the long-term, broad-scope vision for the show, and it was “so nice” to have time freed up for other parts of her business.
Lately, Erica’s pregnancy has underscored the need to ensure her business can run without her day-to-day involvement, including hiring a temporary host for the podcast. “It doesn’t have to be me all the time,” she says; it just proves that being a smaller player just means there’s always room to grow.
To learn more about our guest, go to https://www.ericamandy.com/
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