Chris Morrow, co-founder and CEO of the Loud Speakers podcast network, says “I feel like I’m running a record label.” That’s because, “every time I open my email I have fifty submissions like The Read.”
The Read is Loud Speakers’ most popular show, regularly ranking in the top 100 of the iTunes Charts. The network’s growing roster of what Chris calls “multicultural podcasts” also includes category-leaders like Brilliant Idiots, Combat Jack, and the recently launched Angela Yee’s Lip Service and Tax Season.
On episode 80 of The Wolf Den podcast he tells Adam Sachs that the network is “trying to amplify voices from a lot of different cultures. We have a foot in hip hop, but we don’t want to limit ourselves.”
Chris says that “the best podcasts are honest and authentic.” What sets The Read apart from most podcasts is that hosts Crissle and Kid Fury “have voices you wouldn’t have heard in podcasting five years ago.” Now they tour to sold-out live shows, from New York City to London.
Their success inspires others to consider podcasting as a way to express themselves, opening doors for even more new voices. Hence, Chris’ overflowing inbox.
He tells Adam that new shows are often developed around fresh, original talent. Hip hop personality Taxstone is one such person. Two of Loud Speakers’ most beloved hosts–Kid Fury and Brilliant Idiots’ Charlemagne Tha God–separately recommended him for his own podcast, so they gave him a shot with a guest spot on Brilliant Idiots.
“He killed it,” Chris recalls. That episode received so many comments saying Taxstone should have his own show that he thought, “either this guy is great, or he’s an incredible hustler.” Either way they were convinced to build the new Tax Season around him.
The fun of running Loud Speakers, Chris says, “is having a vision and putting it into practice, not needing to get permission or a lot of backing for it. And then making it real. It’s one of the rushes we get from podcasting–the immediacy of it, and being able to do it.”
In this process it’s important to remember that each show is an “entry point” for listeners to discover a network’s full slate. That means there are advantages to having a strong and consistent brand, especially when it comes to developing a broader audience. However, he acknowledges there can be downsides.
“At the end of the day, people are going to see Loud Speakers as the hip hop or urban podcast network. As much as I don’t want to be put in those boxes, there’s value to that.”
Yet, quality and craft are two more elements that tie things together. “The audience needs to trust you, that it’s going to be good shit, sound great, well produced, some kind of point-of-view that’s unique.
“If you lose that trust, it’s trouble.”
Listen to the whole episode to learn more about Loud Speakers’ other new show, Angela Lee’s Lip Service, and what he thinks will be necessary for new podcasts to succeed in the increasingly crowded post-Serial landscape.