iHeartMedia Announces First Slate of iHeartPodcasts from Its NextUp Initiative


iHeartMedia, the No.1 podcast publisher globally according to Podtrac, today announced the first slate of podcasts from its NextUp Initiative presented by the first-ever Toyota Corolla Cross. NextUp aims to empower participants of all backgrounds by giving them the tools to succeed in the podcast industry: from developing and marketing a podcast to using industry-leading software.

The NextUp fellows have learned from some of iHeartRadio’s top creators and have developed shows centered around their unique voices. The first podcast in the slate, “Beauty Translated,” debuts today. Hosted by Carmen Laurent, the show focuses on the transgender community in the South and touches on their experiences with coming out, launching careers, and family life. Listeners can tune into the first episode now on iHeartRadio and everywhere podcasts are available. 

Laurent, a professional skin therapist, life-long podcast fan and trans woman, creates a safe and open space for her guests to share experiences about their lives being trans in the South––bringing awareness and visibility to an area that is not often represented in popular media the way trans people in larger cities like New York City and Los Angeles are.

“As a transgender woman, it’s very important to me that my community’s stories are shared,” says Laurent. “The NextUp Initiative has given me the tools and platform to do just that, and it’s been so inspiring to learn from industry-leading experts in the podcasting world to create a show that really amplifies our voices.”

Over the next six months, iHeartMedia will launch the full upcoming slate of shows from all eight of its NextUp fellows, covering a range of important topics from the working class to Native American identity.

“We’re thrilled to see the results of the hard work and passion that each and every creator put into their podcast,” said Anna Hossnieh, Co-Founder of NextUp and Managing Executive Producer for iHeartPodcasts. “Each show tells a different story around an incredibly important, but often overlooked issue, and the creativity we’ve seen here is just astounding. This is really just the beginning of what these creators will do.”

Full NextUp Initiative Slate of 2022 Podcasts:

–       “Beauty Translated” (Premiering Today): Hosted by Carmen Laurent, trans woman and professional skin therapist, “Beauty Translated” is a podcast made by trans people for trans people. Carmen sheds light on the trans experience in the Southeast United States––an area that has little trans visibility––and covers topics around gender transition to educate listeners. Additionally, listeners will hear featured guests open up about their lives and share personal stories around their journey with gender transition, providing support to those going through their own experiences.

–       BFF: Black, Fat Femme (Premiering July 12): Featuring the voices of two of the leading queer, fat, and Black changemakers, the BFF podcast examines what it means to love oneself unapologetically in a world where loving oneself often feels impossible. The podcast is hosted by Dr. Jonathan P. Higgins, an educator, national speaker, journalist, thought leader and media critic, and Jordan Daniels, a queer Afro-Jew writer and photographer, who bring their combined passion of identity and race to discuss important topics around belonging and self-love.

–       Tongue Unbroken (Premiering August 1): Tongue Unbroken (Tlél Wudakʼóodzi Ḵaa Lʼóotʼ) is a podcast that explores the Native American revitalization and decolonization through the eyes and mind of a multilingual Indigenous person who is Lingít, Haida, Yupʼik and Sami. Listeners will learn all about the complex concepts around identity, resilience, erasure and genocide of Indigenous languages. Hosted by X̱ʼunei Lance Twitchell, PhD and Associate Professor of Alaska Native Languages at the University of Alaska Southeast, Tongue Unbroken will feature guests leading the language revitalization and decolonial efforts across the United States, Alaska, Canada, and New Zealand.

–       Partition (Premiering August 15): Inspired by her first trip back home to Pakistan in 2017, Pakistani-American writer Neha Aziz explores the 1947 Partition of India and the formation of Pakistan in this historical podcast. When Britain decided they could no longer afford to control India, they granted the country independence and announced that a new country would also be formed––Pakistan. This severed the country in such a way that friends and neighbors became enemies and murderers. With this year marking the 75th anniversary, Neha brings this important story to the masses––combining robust reporting with anecdotes and commentary from her research around the Partition.

–       On Call with Kay-B (Premiering September 2022): On Call with Kay-B will immerse listeners in an audial journey around the medical TV shows that have been a staple in the entertainment industry for decades. These shows have drawn in audiences with not only their steamy romances and on-screen friendships, but the most over-the-top medical cases known to man. Kay B, both a veteran entertainment journalist and podcaster, as well as a trained scientist, uses her unique experience to give listeners a cultural and scientific experience. A wide variety of guests––from talent, creatives and medical consultants behind the shows to real-life scientists and medical professionals working in the field––will be featured on the show.

–       When You’re Invisible (Premiering October 2022): When You’re Invisible is a love letter to the working class and people who have largely been excluded in society. The podcast spotlights the different experiences of these “invisible” people––many of whom are being interviewed for the first time in their life. Actor and creator Maria Fernanda Diez draws from her experience as a first generation American born to Mexican parents, who went from living off food stamps to rising to the middle-middle class and achieving the “American dream,” to welcome and reflect on each guests’ life experiences. Listeners will hear (at times) unbelievable, yet true stories from working-class folks, nannies, immigrants, houseless folks, healthcare workers and more.

–       Survivors Heal with Oya L. Sherrills (Premiering November 2022): At a time when there’s a quiet movement of survivors raging right beneath the surface of the nation’s social and political floor, Survivors Heal is a podcast that explores the healing side of true crime. Host Oya L. Sherrills, an advocate, organizer, and activist of social justice, has been on the ground floor in high crime communities and has seen the reality of the staggering statistic that 1 in 4 Americans have been reported as victims of crime. The Survivors Heal podcast employs both narrative and interviews to create a niche guidebook to the grassroots conversations that have fueled a movement that touches every corner of the political landscape––policy reform, racial justice, social justice, criminal justice reform, resource allocations, and urban culture.

–       We, The Product (Premiering December 2022): Hosted by Priyanka Das, community organizer and activist with holistic experience in corporate America, tech start-ups, NGOs, and solidarity economy networks, We, The Product gives listeners a peek behind the curtain into the ways that surveillance capitalism has embedded itself into every facet of our society. Listeners will hear Priyanka engage with community organizers to better understand how surveillance technologies have evolved into an omnipresent force that is being weaponized as a tool to control communities. Supplemented by academic research and artistic literature, and with a critical lens to the digital market, this podcast will also highlight the ways that communities are building resiliency and fighting to make technology a tool for peoples’ empowerment.

The entire slate of NextUp shows will be distributed by the iHeartPodcast Network. Toyota Corolla Cross is the proud sponsor of the NextUp initiative.