Anna Faris is unqualified, at least according to the title of her wildly successful, book-spawning podcast, Anna Faris is Unqualified. That lack of qualification, though, isn’t stopping the actress from teaming up with America’s largest audio company, iHeartMedia, to bring her hit podcast to Top 40 broadcast radio stations nationwide.
The podcast, which can usually be spotted near the top of the Apple Podcast charts, features Faris and her long-time friend and co-host Sim Sarna chatting with celebrities and “Hollywood types” ranging from her TV mom Alison Janney to director Lee Daniels to the current star of The Bachelorette. They all hand out “unqualified” advice to listeners who call into the show hoping for dating and relationship tips. “The show isn’t just all about laughs,” Faris says. “Yes, the show is goofy and silly and we play fun games with our celebrity guests, but when it comes to giving advice to our dear listeners we take that part seriously. We want to have fun, but also try to help people in every show. I know that’s a tall order, which is why we are still so unqualified.”
Now, Unqualified Media, run by Faris and Sarna, and iHeartMedia will produce a long-form version of the show to air weekends on the radio across Top 40 broadcast radio stations nationwide. Anna Faris is Unqualified will air on 30 iHeartMedia stations nationwide and will be promoted on more than 60. The show is also now officially part of the iHeartRadio Podcast Network, and its hosts will partner with the network to provide exclusive podcast content for iHeartRadio listeners.
“Being able to embarrass Sim to millions of new listeners is simply a dream come true,” Faris says.
This isn’t the first podcast to make the jump to terrestrial radio (the New York Times’s podcast The Daily can be heard in that space as well) but it does mark a potentially huge growth market for podcasts–which is just what iHeartMedia is banking on.
“Currently, only about a quarter of the U.S. population listens to podcasts on a monthly basis, while radio reaches 93% of the population,” explains Chris Peterson, the SVP of Podcasting at iHeartRadio. “This gives iHeartMedia an incredible opportunity to introduce engaging new audio content to the mainstream and really grow the entire podcast industry.”
While Faris’s show is listener-beloved on its own merits, this is very much a business decision for iHeartMedia. “Broadcast radio is a multi-billion dollar industry, compared to the entire podcast space which only generates slightly over $300 million, so of course there are great, new revenue opportunities anytime we can use radio’s reach to expand the listenership of a podcast,” explains Peterson.
Anna Faris is Unqualified is the first podcast to cross over to Top 40 Radio, but it probably won’t be the last, as iHeartMedia expands its “Podcast, Meet Broadcast” initiative to work with podcast creators to grow their shows through the massive iHeartMedia network. “Every podcast we produce or partner with has the potential to be integrated across iHeartMedia’s vast array of multiplatform assets,” says Peterson. “For example, we launched a new music podcast iHeartRadio Presents: Inside the Studio earlier this month and the first episode featuring Mike Shinoda aired on iHeartMedia’s Alt Rock stations. We have also aired unique podcast content from partners around holidays, such as [Wondery’s] Inside Psycho on Halloween. We will continue to use our airwaves to introduce engaging podcast content when and where it makes sense for our listeners.” The move to broadcast radio could also mean potentially bigger paychecks for podcasters willing to put up with FCC rules and, you know, not swear on the air. That said, Peterson claims his company is “simply looking to help podcasters find new audiences, not change their already great content.”
As Faris prepares to take over Top 40, she doesn’t expect the show to change what propelled it there in the first place.
“It’s the same show with all the quirks and craziness from our podcast just trimmed down a bit by the brilliant minds at iHeartRadio to fit into an hour,” explains Faris. “Besides a couple new Geico commercials to listen to . . .”
Despite her growing fanbase and new market share, the star of the hit sitcom Mom remains adamantly unqualified, at least according to herself. “I don’t know what I’m doing half the time, but I really love connecting with people and listening and trying to help,” she says. “I kinda hope I’m never qualified! I think that is what makes the show what it is and what people connect to.”
If you want to catch up on the show before it moves to broadcast, Faris offers a suggestion for which key episodes to listen to: “All of them! All 127 episodes!”
When asked to narrow it down a bit, though, she explains, “Geez, it’s tough to pick because there are so many great episodes for such different reasons. Like our Dax Shepherd and Sharon Stone episodes were amazing for advice. Tiffany Haddish will make you cry because it’s so funny and so touching. Paul Scheer made my cheeks hurt I laughed so hard with the improv, and Regina Hall was like chatting with my best girlfriend for two hours. So yeah, all of them!”
Faris may be unqualified to rank her best episodes, but perhaps you’ll fare better.