Harper’s Bazaar is getting into the podcast game.
Crowded as the space may be, with more than 550,000 active podcasts as of last year, Bazaar’s series has at least one thing that could set it apart: Olivia Wilde as its host, marking the actor and director’s first foray into hosting as well.
“This is the podcast we need right now,” Wilde contended of the series, titled “Dare I Say.” “The revolution can’t happen now without understanding of the past. I’ve personally learned the most from listening to smart women speak to one another. We reach another level of wisdom when we compare our experience with others.”
The podcast will have a decidedly political bent, with Wilde speaking on her first episode, which is about women’s reproduction rights, to Leana Wen, the new president of Planned Parenthood, and Sarah Weddington, a lawyer best known for her representation of Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade. The five subsequent episodes, recorded in a number of studios across the country, will feature other outspoken celebrities and public figures, including Jane Fonda and Patrisse Cullors, cofounder of Black Lives Matter; actors Rosario Dawson and Laverne Cox, and models Precious Lee and Candice Huffine. Topics of discussion will be things like civil, LGBTQ and women’s rights, diversity in fashion, and environmental issues, among others.
As for why Hearst Magazines and Bazaar felt now was the right time to launch a podcast, only the second within all of Hearst Magazines, and a politically driven one at that, ultimately it seems the estimated audience of over 70 million monthly podcast listeners was too big to keep passing up.
“For avid podcast listeners who might be unfamiliar with Bazaar’s commitment to amplifying women’s voices, this is our chance to reach an entirely new audience,” Olivia Fleming, senior digital features editor, said.
Getting that new audience is the sole focus of the series right now, as it includes no ads. It’s surprising given the growth of podcasts as an ad space in recent years, but the sector is still relatively small, generating only around $256 million of the $220 billion U.S advertising market in 2018, equal to just over 1 percent. But podcast advertising is projected to keep growing by more than 20 percent year-over-year, and Bazaar is hopeful a dedicated audience will be quick to form. The magazine is already planning to bring on at least two “big” advertisers for the next season. The podcast is planned to have two seasons a year, so plenty of ad opportunity coming up, and each season is set to have a new host, while the general theme of issue-driven conversation will remain.
While other magazine publishers like Condé Nast and Meredith have a couple of podcasts to their names, they seem to be infrequent and none have really caught on, like those of The New York Times and NPR.
Fleming said she first floated the idea of a “candid” conversation podcast for Bazaar late last year, when pulling together Bazaar’s “Women Who Dare” editorial package (which features most of the same women who are guests on Wilde’s season of the podcast).
“It was impossible to translate their fire, passion and drive onto the printed page; so the medium of a podcast felt like an obvious and natural fit for the future of this franchise,” Fleming said. “Open conversations between women unafraid to challenge the status quo are conversations that our readers would otherwise not be privy to. Listening to their sometimes heated, sometimes vulnerable, and always animated dialogues on pressing issues that our readers care deeply about is incredibly moving and motivating.”
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