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iHeartRadio

iHeartRadio's top country music radio host Bobby Bones is launching the Nashville Podcast Network, a podcast network built to lure Middle Americans into podcasts. The network will include six other podcasts to give listeners an inside look at the lifestyle and pop culture in Nashville, Tennessee, with the hope of drawing country music listeners in rural communities into iHeart's podcast network.

Why it matters: iHeart sees a business opportunity in bringing podcasting to a more diverse audience — including the center of the country, which is having trouble discovering content that resonates with them. The company is the second-largest podcast publisher in the U.S. behind NPR, with 525 original and branded podcasts, according to Podtrac.

  • "My goal is to bring the lifestyle and culture of Middle America to the podcast world, reaching an audience that has yet to be reached, by offering a broad range of content," says Bobby Bones. The network will launch with a new podcast called "Good Company with Jake Owen," featuring the country music star and Bones riffing about life and music.

iHeart is hoping to leverage its massive terrestrial radio footprint to get migrate listeners over to podcasts, where there are more diverse revenue opportunities.

  • "By leveraging our more than 850 radio stations across the country, we have the unique opportunity to introduce new podcasts to more than a quarter billion broadcast listeners – some of which may only be hearing about podcasting for the very first time," says Chris Peterson, senior vice president of podcasting for iHeartMedia.

Podcasting has typically catered to more high-end, urban audiences, and podcasts featured on popular distribution channels, like iTunes, are often produced from urban areas where the biggest distributors and podcast networks are located. Most listeners in the U.S. are highly educated, have higher household incomes and work full-time, according to Edison Research's latest podcast survey.

Expand chart
Data: Edison Research; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios What's next? "Whats going to grow podcasting is more mass appeal content," says Tom Webster, vice president of strategy and marketing at Edison Research.
  • A game-changer: Podcast buffs will see a huge improvement in podcast data and discovery with changes to the Apple Podcasts app coming with iOS 11.
  • FYI: If you're interested in learning more about rural podcasts, Kelly Moffitt's "Flyover Pocasts" newsletter, is worth a read. (h/t podcast aficionado Lisa Kovitz of Edelman)

Go deeper

Southwest heat wave intensifies, breaks records and worsens drought

A temperature "misery index" shows peak levels across the Southwest (orange and yellow), and the upper air flow shows how the jet stream is being pushed north, away from the heat dome parked over the Four Corners region. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A punishing and long-enduring heat wave is intensifying in parts of the West and Southwest, with heat warnings and advisories in effect across seven states Wednesday. The heat will not relent until late in the weekend.

Threat level: In the coming days, 40 million are likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100 degrees.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Putin calls Biden summit "constructive," but blames U.S. for tensions

Photo: Sergei Bobylev\TASS via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that his summit with President Biden was "constructive," and that the countries had agreed their ambassadors would imminently return to their posts in Moscow and Washington.

What he's saying: "Many of our joint positions are divergent but nevertheless I think both sides manifested a determination to try and understand each other and try and converge our positions," Putin told reporters at a press conference following the meetings, according to a translator.

Updated 2 hours ago - World

Live updates: Putin concludes press conference, Biden up next

President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva for less than four hours of talks on Wednesday, a highly anticipated summit that comes as both sides say U.S.-Russia relations have sunk to a new post-Cold War low.

The latest: At a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, Putin called the talks "very constructive' and announced that the U.S. and Russia's respective ambassadors would return to their posts.