“Podcasts by women, for everyone.” This tagline blazes across the front page of the Earios website, purple letters marching over colorful pictures of the hosts the network offers podcasts from. All women. Power poses, smiles, and welcoming vibes radiate out of the simple-yet-professional looking page.
The idea for Earios first came from comedy writers/actors Amanda Lund and Maria Blasucci. Their circles of friends were entrenched in the podcasting world, and both women had been guests on numerous shows, but both were frustrated with the brick wall they had met when trying to pitch their own ideas. Podcasting, a world dominated by men, didn’t take kindly to the thought that two women could host a successful podcast without the fingerprints of men all over the producing, writing, and editing teams.
Sadly, this experience is not unique to Amanda and Maria. Women make up over 46% of podcast listeners, a number that has been growing the past few years, but host only 22% of shows. There are an additional 11% co-hosted by women, though that still only represents 33% of podcasts, far smaller than the amount of female consumers. Thus, there is obviously a market for podcasts hosted by women. So why are there not more shows? Some journalists and researchers offer the explanation of experience in behind-the-scenes work. Men are more likely to know how to work microphones, sound systems, and editing software, with women only as 6% of all audio engineers and producers. That means that women, though fully capable of coming up with podcast ideas and scripts, often need men working behind the scenes- and because of that, generally need male ‘permission’, or at least support, to go ahead on project ideas.
Another barrier that exists for female podcasters is bias against higher voices. While both male and female voices exist all over the spectrum, women generally speak in higher pitches. A 2012 study found that lower voices were not only considered more attractive and dominant, but also, interestingly, more intelligent and capable. This again could contribute to the problems many women face breaking into the podcasting world.
For Amanda and Maria, these boundaries felt all too real as they brought their idea to network after network and each time were told by men that they would have to rework it to be engaging. They knew, from talking with female friends and colleagues, that their idea was fine as-is. So they decided to make their own network. After pulling in agent and businesswoman Priyanka Mattoo, they launched a kickstarter for their new project- a podcast network run entirely by women.
In 2019, when the network launched, it was met with incredible success. With all it’s podcasts hosted by women, along with an all-female production team, editing team, and advertising group, Earios represented a revolutionary first. As their page says, they “didn’t want to let this beautiful medium that will shape culture for generations to come go the way of literally everything else, and become a boys club.” Backed by others that were slighted by the toxic patriarchal atmosphere of the current podcasting world, they took off running.
However, as with any podcast, there were a couple kinks to work out. The main one: money. When taking interviews, the founders often comment on some differences between the way men and women ask for support for their shows. “We always do our ‘asks’ at the very end, very meekly- like apologetically, “ Amanda says, a trend that can be noticed on a vast number of female-led podcasts. Men, in contrast, usually request money at the beginning and do so in a much more definitive way. For Maria and Amanda, on their podcast ‘The Big Ones’, the solution was simple: demand unapologetically.
Listening to any of their episodes, you’ll be treated to a shouted declaration, “You WILL donate to our patreon. You WILL rate us five stars and leave a review. We are giving you premium content and the fact that you haven’t done that yet has me almost in tears.” Recently, they’ve started to request that guests do the ‘ask’ for them. It leads to gems like Cobie Smulders, Agent Maria Hill in the blockbuster Marvel movies, treating listeners to a dramatic monologue about her own personal epiphany, ‘Twinkle Bell’ from Peter Pan, and how Maria and Amanda are dying like the coral reefs due to listeners inability to leave a review. It also leads to a thriving network with good ad revenue and support from fans.
Though on the surface it seems that the most unique thing about Earios is its all-female model, there is another big piece that sets it apart. Earios is willing to take on ideas women pitch straight out of their heads- no need for giant teams to pick it apart to tweak and change into a consumer-focused product. There is a very small barrier to entry, with the women taking on shows in a wide range of stages, from fully finished with only a marketing need to just an idea in a friend’s head. As Priyanka says, “Sometimes it helps to just be like, ‘Yeah, I think that’s a great idea. Let’s try it. Let’s put it out there. Maybe it’ll be great. Maybe it’ll be terrible. Who knows? We think it’s good.’Just to take a chance on people and to build their confidence and their ability to put stuff out there.” This leads to a smooth-running, successful, and interesting network full of happy creators. If you get a chance, I recommend checking Earios out!