It’s said by some that the riches are in the niches, and Ride Home Media is making a bet on short-form podcasts which summarize the news of the day in a particular subject area. “TLDR as a Service,” co-founder and chief executive Brian McCullough calls it.
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The company itself may be only six months old, but it’s made sufficient progress to attract investment as it seeks to scale its offering of shows. Today, the company announced that it’s secured $1 million in seed funding from Tiny Capital, a boutique technology investor and holding company which acquired and operates the Castro podcasting app, and has backed other podcast (and podcast-adjacent) companies like SuperCast and DoubleUp. Ride Home Media is valued at $3.8 million following the transaction; McCullough told Crunchbase News that, at this time, the company’s board remains unchanged.
You too could make a decent living talking about stuff on the internet, if you do it on the daily. McCullough wrote in an email that “the economics of a daily podcast are such that one person can helm a show and earn deep into the six figures per year,” with a modestly sized audience. McCullough reckons that “an audience of maybe 30k listeners” is enough to make a decent stream of revenue for all involved: the host, the support staff, and the media venture which takes care of the heavy lifting.
Here’s the thing about making media online: it doesn’t cost much to get started, but getting noticed and accruing enough of a following to make a living at it takes an ounce of talent and a pound of persistence. Without an existing platform of their own, independent creators have to factor in a ton of luck as well.
To start a podcast, for example, requires a recording device (heck, a decent modern smartphone will do in a pinch), some audio editing software (which probably came pre-installed on your computer), an audio hosting account (probably less than $20 per month if you’re just getting started), and sufficient time and intention to produce an engaging product on a somewhat consistent basis. But unless you already have a sizable online following, it’s likely that your only listeners will be your family, close friends, and a couple of random folks that came upon it by happenstance, at least for awhile.
Working with an online media company helps to circumvent the biggest challenge creators face—getting discovered—alongside the tedium of securing sponsorships and ensuring their work is distributed far and wide.
McCullough and his co-founder James Welsh are no strangers to podcasting and media production. Welsh was co-founder of U.K.-based media property Digital Spy and previously served as the vice president of Hearst’s digital platform efforts. McCullough, for his part, has been in the podcasting game for years. I–full disclosure–became a fan of his work in 2015, when I binged through the earliest episodes of his Internet History Podcast, and kept listening. From the start of that podcast, McCullough stated his goal was to record the raw material for a book about the history of the internet. “How The Internet Happened” was published in 2018.
Ride Home Media’s first podcast is produced in collaboration with TechMeme, the popular technology news aggregation website. The format: episodes between 20 and 30 minutes in length, published right before the evening rush hour (Eastern time), containing a survey and analysis of the biggest tech news stories of the day. TechMeme Ride Home sits alongside politically-focused Election Ride Home (covering, you guessed it, the ongoing U.S. election saga) and Celeb News Ride Home, which the media company launched today in conjunction with its funding announcement.
McCullough is convinced the model can be replicated across a number of different verticals. “Very probably a Gamer Ride Home, Media Ride Home and Money & Markets Ride Home are next on our slate,” he wrote in an email. “But we very much will go where the talent leads us. We got pitched on a Sneaker News Ride Home, and that’s not an insane idea. Any topic niche where there’s enough news and enough of a committed audience is something we will consider.”
Ride Home Media is currently taking suggestions for new shows. “We want to get the word out to any and all writers in any and all topic spaces: pitch us show ideas! Become a trusted, daily voice in your area of expertise and make a good living doing it,” said McCullough.
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias