When fashion brand LPA creative director and influencer Pia Baroncini decided to launch a podcast at the start of the pandemic in 2020, there was only one company she wanted as a partner: Dear Media. “The ability for Respected Media to understand the podcast host as a creator and monetize that aspect is really the biggest attraction,” he said.
Now, two years later, she considers her podcast “Everything is for the Best” a huge success, where she offers conversations on topics such as parenting, pregnancy, financial planning, and entertainment. He appreciates his partnership with Dear Media.
Since its inception in 2018, Dear Media has quietly become one of the most prominent names in women’s media. The podcast network’s social media channels reach a combined audience of over 120 million. Dear Media’s shows were downloaded more than 200 million times in 2022, and the company has produced more than 50 impressive products and doubled its annual revenue in each of the past four years.
The brand is ubiquitous in women’s online spaces. It’s hard to navigate TikTok or Instagram without seeing a Dear Media podcast video clip. “You see a clip on TikTok and you know right away it’s Dear Media,” said Natalie Corporate, a TikTok star who has nearly half a million followers on the app.
Podcasting is projected to be a $94.88 billion industry by 2028, and big players including Spotify and Apple have acquired or launched a number of high-profile, exclusive shows. The growth of platforms like Anchor, which allow anyone to create a podcast, has led to a surge in local shows. Competition is fierce as the economy shrinks and the media sector enters what podcast critic and analyst Nicholas Quah calls “podcast winter.” This is where Dear Media comes in.
“[There’s] there’s a sense of pessimism in the podcast business in general,” she said. “I haven’t seen many attempts to create a female-focused multimedia lifestyle brand with a distinct podcast presence like Dear Media. The big question for a network of this scale is whether they can get downloads.” That said, for Dear Media to survive, it must continue to land shows and grow its audience.
Dear Media seems to have used a winning formula: using podcasts as a springboard for female influencers to build multimillion-dollar brands. The Respect Media network hosts 63 shows, primarily talk shows (where the hosts and guests have free-flowing conversations), with more growing and constantly bringing in new talent. Her list of popular shows includes the pop culture show “Skinny Not Fat” hosted by the influential Amanda Hirsch, and “Back to the Beach” hosted by reality stars Kristin Cavallari and Stephen Colletti. MTV show Laguna Beach and the comedy podcast Absolutely Not, hosted by actress and comedian Heather McMahan.
“They’ve created this powerful network of women who all have really interesting channels,” Baroncini said. “…We’re all constantly doing pod swaps with each other.”
Last year, Dear Media launched its first limited series, Summer of Gold, hosted by retired figure skater Michelle Kwan and co-produced with Togethxr, a women’s sports media company. It tells the oral history of the 1996 Olympics, in which women’s sports teams won gold medals. And this year, the network also debuted its first fiction show, “Bone, Marry, Bury,” with Sarah Hyland about romance and murder. Dear Media also announced a show called “I Am America” with “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross. It features stories that focus on and “overcome” everyday Americans[s] We have all the divisions in this country,” reads an ad for the show.
While Respected Media itself has managed to stay out of the online drama often synonymous with the influencer industry, it hasn’t shied away from controversial talent. In October, the company hired Claudia Oshry and Jackie Oshry Weinreb, daughters of far-right extremist Pamela Geller, to host the show, although Claudia Oshry has faced backlash for espousing views similar to her mother’s, such as repeatedly making racist comments and belittling her. the coronavirus pandemic.
Dear Media was founded as a joint venture between entrepreneur Michael Bosstic, the company’s CEO, and Raina Penchansky, founder of Digital Brand Architects (DBA), a leading lifestyle influencer that helps social media creators earn and monetize. they are expanding their brands. DBA’s dominance in this field was strengthened when the management company was acquired by United Talent Agency in 2019.
The business came to fruition after Michael Bosstick and his wife, massively popular lifestyle influencer Lauryn Bosstick, aka @theskinnyconfidential, created a successful podcast based on their brand, The Skinny Confidential Him & Her. The show featured candid conversations with entrepreneurs, content creators and authors.
Although their show was successful—Bossticks produced more than 500 episodes, never missed an episode a week for six years, and garnered more than 150 million downloads—they struggled to find a podcast network. They did not feel that any major network took them seriously or was interested in serving a primarily female audience.
Bossicks recognized that countless influential women with large online followings, including lifestyle content creators, reality stars and entrepreneurs, wanted to start podcasts but were dismissed or undervalued by the male-dominated podcast industry. So they partnered with Penchansky, whose company has a track record of working with mainstream female content creators, and Dear Media was born.
“That’s when we realized how many female-centric shows didn’t get the attention or resources they deserved,” Michael Bosstic said. “The top charts of the major podcast platforms were dominated by men and there were very few women represented in a way that we both felt was appropriate. We’ve been collaborating with and talking to a lot of incredible women, and we thought it’s time to even put the charts aside a bit.” .”
What Dear Media most recognized was the media industry’s shift away from traditional brands and toward online creators. “The idea to create a platform for creators was born by creators serving a female audience looking at possibilities beyond just audio,” said Michael Bosstick.
Each Dear Media brand speaks to a specific type of woman or interest. Dear Media shows fashion, entertainment and pop culture news, dating, marriage, pregnancy, the challenges of being a woman in the workplace and more. covers topics such as The network includes men, but they mostly speak to the company’s predominantly female audience.
“Consumers are looking to Dear Media podcasts as a real-life resource,” said Siffat Haider, influencer and founder of health brand Arrae, host of The Dream Bigger Podcast. “The [listener] Dear Media finds many of the shows relatable no matter where they are in their lives. Whether it’s parenting podcasts or career podcasts, there’s a lot of original, real-life programming.”
“Hopefully, you might come to Dear Media for a comedy show, but then decide you also want to listen to a parenting show. Or you might come to listen to a business show and discover you also like a pop culture show,” said Michael Bostic. “Our goal is to create a wide enough offer that can appeal to everyone who goes through the week and days, as well as in different moods during the week.”
Unlike other podcast companies with general equipment and messy studio spaces, Dear Media has built Instagram and YouTube-ready studio spaces in West Hollywood and Austin. The venues have become hubs for dignitaries and celebrities who visit or host their own shows, just to sit in front of Dear Media branded microphones. The Dear Media brand is attached to each show’s sketch, and the Dear Media name is played at the beginning of every episode of every show on the network. This branding has allowed Dear Media to achieve a level of name recognition that other networks struggle to achieve.
“Branding is at the forefront of every business conversation,” said Page Port, President of Dear Media. “What the brand looks like in the cover art, in the studio, when it comes to distribution. It’s something that’s really starting to get recognized, and when you see content on other platforms, you’re like, ‘Oh, this is a Dear Media show.'”
While Dear Media uses podcasts as a launching pad for the talent it employs, the network’s success comes from its ability to help influencers build mini-media empires around themselves. “We look at all shows as brands in themselves, and when you look at them as brands instead of just audio channels, you can do a lot more,” said Michael Bosstick, citing opportunities like merchandise, live events, tours, products. lines, flow and IP. “It’s a focus that many of our competitors can’t or won’t entertain.”
For talent, working with Respected Media opens up monetization opportunities not often found in traditional podcasting. “Why should I be a random advertiser on a podcast I don’t really use?” Baroncini said. “I wanted to work with brands that were part of my life and could seamlessly integrate with my other social media channels.”
Michael Bosstick defended sponsored episodes, where guests pay thousands of dollars to appear on the show. Experience is common in the online creative space, but in podcasting it’s traditionally only happened behind the scenes. Bosstick puts it out in the open. According to Bloomberg News, “The Skinny Confidential O & Her Podcast” charges between $20,000 and $40,000 for a sponsored interview. “We always frame it like this: There are no talking points; you won’t be able to submit your questions; the only thing is that only your brand is featured,” Bloomberg said. And sponsored episodes make up only 1 to 3 percent of Respect Media’s total programming, he said.
The company also manufactures consumer products. Dear Media has incubated Bosstick’s original lifestyle brand, The Skinny Confidential, and Woo More Play, a sexual health toy company. The company has also invested in and helped grow a supplement brand, a vegan and gluten-free cookie dough, a hydration company, a line of sparkling wine cocktails, and a line of natural remedies. He also runs a thriving merchandising business.
Chat shows remain Dear Media’s bread and butter, but the company is rapidly expanding into new formats. In 2020, Dear Media raised an $8 million Series A investment, telling Forbes that the company plans to use the money to expand its programming pipeline. “We’re focused on adding more diversity, not only in the types of women we represent, but also in the type of content,” Bosstick said.
In November, Dear Media introduced “diaries” of 5- to 10-minute pieces aimed at the Dear Media audience. Port calls them “digestible, snackable episodes that people can start or end their day with.” The company hired a team to focus on the product.
“You can listen while doing dishes, folding laundry, going for a walk or working,” Port said. “It’s content that doesn’t take up a huge chunk of your day and can be added to the shows you’re already listening to.”