IHeartMedia buys Atlanta podcasting leaders Stuff Media for reported $55 million

Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant host the popular podcast “Stuff You Should Know” produced by Atlanta-based media company How Stuff Works at Ponce City Market twice a week. CONTRIBUTED BY DYLAN FAGAN

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Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant host the popular podcast “Stuff You Should Know” produced by Atlanta-based media company How Stuff Works at Ponce City Market twice a week. CONTRIBUTED BY DYLAN FAGAN

Originally posted Thursday, September 13, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

IHeartMedia, the nation’s largest radio company, has bought out Atlanta-based podcast experts Stuff Media, one of the top commercial podcast operators in the world.

A source told the Wall Street Journal that the deal was worth $55 million. IHeartMedia did not confirm that number.

Among Stuff Media’s most popular podcasts include “Stuff You Should Know,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “The Daily Zeitgeist,” “Aaron Mahnke’s Cabinet of Curiosities” and “Atlanta Monster.”

They have 37 podcasts on their site. It generates 61 million downloads every month.

Stuff Media, which has 50 employees mostly out of its Ponce City Market office and will remain there after the acquisition, entered the podcasting business with "Stuff You Should Know" early in April, 2008. Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have become so popular they will regularly go on the road and do the show live.

IHeartMedia is currently in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It filed for such protection in March, with a debt load of around $20 billion. This acquisition is subject to approval by a bankruptcy court judge.

Stuff Media has had numerous owners over the years.

Discovery purchased HowStuffWorks, which also included an informational website, in 2007 for $250 million. It sold to Blucora in 2014 for $45 million. Blucora sold it to digital-ad company System1 before it was spun off as Stuff Media last year.

IHeartMedia is hoping to ramp up its podcast operations on its app and expects to leverage its huge radio station platform and start sprinkling in podcasts onto its 850 AM and FM stations. (In Atlanta, IHeartMedia runs several stations including Power 96.1, Alt 105.7, 94.9/The Bull, El Patron 105.3 and 640/WGST-AM.)

"Podcast meet broadcast!" wrote Chris Williams, chief product officer at IHeartMedia and former program director at two rock stations in Atlanta, 99X and Project 96.1, on his Facebook page today. "Our evolution and investment in podcasting continues to position iHeartRadio for future consumer behavior and media consumption."
Darren Davis, who oversees IHeartMedia's digital operations, said in an interview that Stuff Media has a "proven team with a great track record at creating hit podcasts. They can do it to scale... They're good people. They're smart people. They're pioneers in the podcast space."

He noted that when Payne Lindsey and Stuff Media do a second season of "Atlanta Monster" as "Monster: The Zodiac Killer," it will air on many of IHeartMeida's news/talk stations. "Atlanta Monster" was one of the biggest new podcasts of 2018. "Their podcasts are already enormously popular," Davis said. "This is like pouring gas on the fire."

Donald Albright, Payne Lindsey and Jason Hoch are the primary team members creating the podcast “Atlanta Monster” and its upcoming season to be called “Monster: The Zodiac Killer” next year. CREDIT: Ousman Sahko

Credit: Rodney Ho

Credit: Rodney Ho

IHeartMedia already has the largest audience for commercial podcasts. Only non-commercial NPR has more. It's already partnered with all major podcast publishers and features more than 20,000 podcasts and the iHeartRadio Podcast Network hosts more than 750 iHeartRadio original shows.

"While podcasting has already experienced tremendous growth, the real opportunity to bring the full potential of podcasts to the mainstream still lies ahead," said Bob Pittman, chairman and CEO of iHeartMedia in a press release. "Stuff Media is the original trailblazer of the podcasting industry, and we've been impressed by its ability to grow a massive, loyal audience over the past decade, led by a strong, experienced and cohesive management team, who we welcome to iHeartMedia. This strategic acquisition will pair Stuff Media's wildly popular content and strong creative capabilities with iHeartMedia's extensive resources and massive scale through our digital platforms, social reach and broadcast radio stations, introducing podcasts to the vast majority of the country and offering even more unique opportunities for advertisers to reach their consumers."

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