8 MIN READ
Sick of Negative News, This TV Reporter Left Her Job and Started a Podcast
Erica Mandy is leading a movement to enjoy the news again.
After spending a decade working her way up at TV stations around the country, the former award-winning broadcast journalist grew disheartened by the negativity in the news.
So she decided to do something about it. In 2017, Mandy quit her dream journalism job in Los Angeles to create and launch the podcast theNewsWorthy. Each daily episode is less than 10 minutes long, and is designed to be fun, high-energy, quick, convenient, fair and unbiased.
This is the story of how Mandy made the leap from TV news reporter to podcast host, and how she plans to earn as much income, if not more, than she did in her former role — and do so by next year.
Carving a Niche in a Competitive Space
Contrary to what you might've heard, journalism is not a dying profession, but it is experiencing a gradual decline.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for reporters, correspondents and broadcast news analysts are expected to decline by 9% from 2016 to 2026.
To succeed in journalism, you must have a deep passion for the news.
“I remember my first broadcast journalism class at Indiana University,” Mandy says. “I enjoyed telling stories by weaving writing, sound and video. I fell in love with broadcasting.”
After graduating in 2007, Mandy completed an internship, then landed her first job as a part-time reporter at a small-town station in Missouri. She earned just $10 an hour. Mandy eventually moved to a larger station in Portland, Oregon before landing her dream job at CBS Los Angeles in 2014.
“My favorite part of the job was getting to tell stories that mattered,” Mandy says.
Toward the end of her time in LA, Mandy covered mostly breaking news, which was often negative.
“I saw and felt the news fatigue,” Mandy explains. “But even more than that, I kept hearing from people that they didn’t watch the news anymore because it was too depressing. That word kept coming up over and over and over again.”
An idea began to brew in Mandy’s mind.
“I wanted to find a way to keep people informed that wasn’t as depressing as traditional media,” she says. “I wanted to share the news in a new way.”
A New Way to Consume the News
You can watch news on television, read a newspaper (old school, we know!), subscribe to an email newsletter, listen to a long-form podcast or browse headlines on Twitter.
But Mandy sought to create something different.
“I wanted to be able to multitask while also enjoying the process and feeling positive for the day,” she explains. Mandy eventually landed on the idea of creating a short podcast — and theNewsWorthy was born.
Podcasting became Mandy’s avenue of choice for two reasons:
- She wanted to give her audience a way to consume the news without having to spend so much time staring at a screen. — to give them the chance to multitask while getting the news they’d need for the day.
- The podcast industry is growing at a rapid pace, and Mandy wanted to get in before the field got too crowded. Plus, podcasting is relatively inexpensive and requires minimal equipment, Mandy says.
Walking Away From a Dream Job
Mandy found herself at a crossroads.
“I had a big decision to make,” she recalls. “I was 10 years into being a TV news reporter, and I asked myself, ‘What’s my next goal?’ I could go down a traditional path and go to a network news station covering the latest terrorist attack or I could take a risk and start something new.”
Before Mandy launched theNewsWorthy, she conducted research to find out if her idea resonated with the public. “I ran a survey, and got really positive feedback,” Mandy explains. “That feedback was enough for me to say, ‘I have to give this a try.’
“I felt so passionate about this idea,” Mandy adds. “I had never felt this type of excitement before. All I wanted to do was work on this project.”
She left CBS Los Angeles in June 2017, and launched theNewsWorthy in September.
Launching a Podcast
Creating a podcast is no easy task.
In the months leading up to launch, Mandy brainstormed show names, built the website and worked with a designer to create a logo.
“I don’t know if it’s the journalist in me needing to become an expert in something in just a few hours, but I learned as I went,” recalls Mandy.
She even completed a trial week of shows before launch, sending the episodes to a small group of family and friends to hold her accountable and share feedback. “I wanted to make sure all my systems were in place,” she recalls. “The trial week helped me get my nerves out.”
Then it was time to go live. Mandy’s main goal in the show’s first few weeks was to get on the radar of Apple Podcasts — she hoped to be featured on the homepage, where theNewsWorthy would be exposed to podcast listeners all over the world.
Mandy emailed several people at Apple who could make the decision to feature her show.
“I sent them a pitch,” Mandy explains. “I knew the content of the show was good, I just had to find the right people to know it existed and get them to listen.”
Two weeks later, theNewsWorthy landed on the New and Noteworthy homepage of Apple Podcasts, and has been continuously featured in various sections ever since.
“That was huge for me,” Mandy remembers.
A Different Kind of Daily Routine
Mandy’s day is split into two distinct parts.
She spends mornings on business development — marketing the show, managing sponsorships and taking care of the many administrative tasks that come with running a podcast.
Around 4 p.m. Mandy transitions to creating the content for the next day’s show, scouring the internet for the latest news from the last 24 hours. She records the show around 10 p.m. Pacific Time and publishes at 1 a.m. PST, ready for listeners’ ears when they wake up.
Making a Living as a Podcaster
Since launching, Mandy’s main focus has been growing the show’s audience. Monetizing comes later, although she’s ahead of schedule, already generating revenue.
Here’s how Mandy earns a living as a podcaster:
Podcast sponsorships: Mandy offers one sponsorship slot per episode, choosing one she believes in and will benefit the audience. She’s on track to earn $40,000 annually, and with current audience growth of 10 to 20% a month, she expects that figure to grow quickly.
Speaking engagements: Mandy never set out to become a speaker, but because of the unique way she’s positioned herself in the industry, she’s been presented with multiple opportunities.
Mandy has taken the stage at Podcast Movement, the National Association of Broadcasters Show, and she moderated a panel at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce’s largest event of the year. Mandy now charges between $3,000 to $7,000 per speaking gig.
Podcast consulting: With podcasting growing in popularity, traditional media companies have come to Mandy to request her expertise and insights on starting a podcast. This income stream ranges based on project type and whether the assignment is recurring, but Mandy expects to earn anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 per project.
Mandy anticipates that next year she’ll earn as much money as she made in her job as a TV broadcaster. After that, there’s no ceiling, and the possibilities are endless.
Could You Start a Podcast?
Mandy has some advice for those who want to follow in her footsteps.
1. Be flexible
The ability to be flexible helped Mandy in her job as a TV reporter and has served her well in her new role as a podcaster and entrepreneur.
“I love being able to test things out, and if it doesn’t work, that’s the beauty of not needing to get approval from anyone,” Mandy says. “If you’re growing, you’re going in the right direction.”
2. Use the experience you already have
Mandy encourages future podcasters to lean on the experience they’ve built up.
It’s OK to keep a day job, learn and grow your skill set, then take your side hustle or dream project full-time when you’re ready.
“I couldn’t have done this right out of college,” she explains. “Without 10 years of traditional media experience, I wouldn’t have the credibility I have now.”
3. Don’t wait to start a podcast
Mandy encourages would-be podcasters to jump in now.
“Now is the time to get into podcasting,” Mandy says. “It’s growing so quickly. Smart speakers are coming out. Google just launched a podcast app. That’s a sign right there that the industry is growing.”
4. Be patient and remember your ‘why’
Patience is key. It takes time to build an audience, and success likely won’t happen overnight.
“I’ve put in a lot of sweat equity,” Mandy explains. “It takes time, but the positive reaction from the audience has been what has really made this all so rewarding.”
Making a Difference and Growing Her Brand
On nights she feels overwhelmed and overworked, Mandy returns to her mission and the difference the show is making to listeners.
The podcast is just the first phase of what Mandy hopes theNewsWorthy brand will become as it grows.
She’s currently working on a listener-supported model which will back both the show and different nonprofit organizations. In the coming months, Mandy plans to focus more effort on generating sponsorships. She also wants to eventually expand the brand to mobile/digital video with the right distribution partner.
“I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked before, but it’s worth it,” Mandy says. “Hearing people tell me they feel more informed and that they listen every day gets me so excited and keeps my passion going.”
Jessica Lawlor is the president and CEO of Jessica Lawlor & Company (JL&Co), a specialty communications agency. She's a news junkie herself, and a loyal listener of theNewsWorthy!