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MEET THE CREW

Around the World With Our Spotify Studios Producers, Editors, and Engineers

September 30, 2021

Mano a Mano. Kaulitz Hills. Coming Out. Virus 2062. The Inspired Unemployed. These are just five of the 1000+ Spotify Original podcasts that have found their way into listeners’ podcast queues this past year. And there’s always more where that came from.

Spotify is dedicated to producing creative, engaging shows for our audiences around the world. Each podcast takes hours and hours of taping, producing, and editing. So to do this, we bring together a stellar team of producers, engineers, hosts, and editors across many of the countries we have offices in to work on every type of podcast from scripted to documentary to news podcasts. 

In honor of International Podcast Day, we asked several rising Spotify Studio team members from around the world to tell us how they fell in love with podcasting and about the exciting projects they’re currently working on. Get to know them below.

Candace Manriquez Wrenn
Senior Podcast Producer
Spotify Studios

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role? 

I knew in my 20’s that I wanted to tell compelling stories, but podcasting wasn’t a thing at that point. I worked in late night television and reality TV for years, on everything from makeover shows like How Do I Look hosted by Jeannie Mai (aka Mrs. Jeezy), to episodic dramedies, like CeeLo Green’s The Good Life. At some point, I decided to go back to school and get a journalism degree. It was there that I honed my fact-based storytelling skills. After years of being a producer and a reporter for news brands, I wanted to bring the fun I had had working in reality to the audio stories I was creating. And that led me to Spotify. Every project I work on is different. Some focus on very hard-hitting news topics like social justice or criminal justice reform. While others, like pop culture chat shows, allow me to be less serious. That balance keeps me sane and grounded. 

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about? 

Dope Labs, one of my favorite pods, is coming back after 10 months off-platform. I am stoked to see what’s in store, especially considering how large of a role science (and science denial) is playing in our everyday lives right now.

Leah Harris
Creative Producer
Spotify Studios Australia/New Zealand

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

I’ve had a varied early career in live events, production, music, TV, film, and digital content, but my work has always centered around building and maintaining an audience. I didn’t come from a traditional radio or audio background, but I do think that has impacted my podcasting career positively. We’re in the infancy of how this industry and format can be developed, and I think coming from a varied background helps me to think about new and innovative ways to build an audience, and challenge some of the barriers and boundaries.

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

We are working on an always-on podcast with Australia’s biggest social talent, The Inspired Unemployed. It’s been amazing to see them enter into the audio space, and I am so excited to see them grow into full-fledged podcasting pro’s alongside Spotify.

Gabby Bulgarelli
Producer, Mogul
Gimlet

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

I got into podcasting while I was in college. I was running a hip-hop radio show on the campus station and decided to enroll in a podcasting course. I loved those experiences so much that after graduating, I interned for NPR affiliates WUNC and WFAE. From there I decided to pursue a career in music podcasting. I ended up landing an internship with the Mogul team at Gimlet, and now I’m a full-time producer on the show. My experiences thus far have definitely helped me bring creativity and passion to my role. 

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

We just wrapped our third season of Mogul, which was all about the history of Houston hip-hop and the legacy of DJ Screw. So right now I’m working on some bonus content and pitches for our next season. It feels great to reset and get ready for our next deep dive. I’ve also been selected as a Gimlet fellow this year, so I get the opportunity to report my own piece that will air before the end of the year.

Alex Button
Sound Design Specialist
Parcast

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

I first started listening to podcasts back when I had a pretty lengthy commute. Initially, I was just hoping they would help make that time in traffic go by a little faster and maybe I could learn something along the way. But after finding the types of shows that I really enjoyed, I eventually found myself listening to podcasts in my free time as well. I really appreciate a show or an episode that has engaging storytelling, teaches me something new, or brings my attention to an important topic—or all of the above!

Years after becoming a podcast enthusiast I saw an opportunity arise at Parcast and Spotify, and with my background in sound, I applied right away! When I mix episodes now, I hope that I can help reinforce that excellent storytelling and really engage listeners so they can learn something new and/or spotlight those important topics.

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

I’m very excited about our new show Disappearances! I’ve followed our host Sarah Turney’s work and advocacy for some time, so I’m really thrilled to be working on Disappearances.

Wiebke Achterwinter
Podcast Producer
Spotify Studios Germany

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

I started listening to podcasts when I was at university in the Netherlands in 2014 and slowly became hooked with the medium. For my bachelor thesis, I moved to Berlin and joined a newly founded podcast production company to write about the impact different types of ads have within podcasts. This way, I dived deep into the world of podcasting and was very happy to start my role at Spotify in May 2020. 

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

I have recently launched my biggest show yet Kaulitz Hills – Senf aus Hollywood, where former German teen stars Bill and Tom Kaulitz give insights into their Hollywood lifestyles. This show was very exciting to develop and has been on air for three weeks now. Additionally, I supervise the German adaptations from Parcast, which are always great fun to work on and let me combine my passion for true crime formats and storytelling with work.

Sarah Barrett
Senior Creative Producer
Spotify Studios Latam (México + Colombia)

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

I started out as a radio journalist at WNYC Radio in New York City and fell in love with long-form narrative audio. There was a strong indie podcasting community that used to meet up weekly in someone’s apartment to play the pieces they were working on and critique each other. Those living room sessions made me realize there’s an intimacy to audio that you just don’t get with other mediums. I love writing a story and trying to find the most captivating way to tell it—I try to bring that with me to all of the projects I’m working on (even though it’s no longer on someone’s living room floor).

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

Right now I’m working on the Sound Up program in Mexico and it is incredibly exciting. Ten young women from all over the country are working on their unique ideas for a podcast and I can’t wait to hear the finished episodes!

Neha Mathews
Podcast Producer
Spotify Studios India

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

What started as hobby-podcasting about pop culture eventually led to plunging headfirst into the world of podcasting as a profession. Before Spotify, I worked at a leading Indian news media company called the Indian Express, as the host and producer of their daily news podcast and created a limited series on freedom of speech in India. This experience, plus my background in content production and digital marketing, culminated in finding myself in this role as Producer at Spotify, working on commissioning Original shows from scratch.

What’s something you are working on right now that you are excited about?

Just like there aren’t enough women on the Internet, there are truly not enough women in podcasting. In India we sat back and examined how we have a large group of young female podcast listeners, but not more than a handful of shows featuring or created for them—so I’m very excited to be heading into 2022 strategizing on what the Originals team can create to address that white space. Whether it’s diversifying our content, producers, and even hosts, the aim is for young Indian girls out there to just feel represented and heard!

Asami Sekine
Podcast Executive Producer
Spotify Studios Japan

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?

Working at a radio station, I was involved in the production and uploading of podcasts from the very beginning when they first came to the market. I remember that the traditional radio station did not have many effective PR methods, so I tried to archive the live-radio broadcasts into podcasts in order to attract new listeners, especially younger audiences. But honestly speaking, it’s been in the last few years that I’ve recognized the true possibility of podcasts. I’ve been impressed to see that there are so many rich audio documentaries overseas that are enjoyed as new journalism and to see how popular podcasts have become. I have tried to advocate Japanese radio stations to produce more original, high-quality podcasts, and I established the first “Podcast Awards,” which Spotify partnered with, to discover talented audio creators and vitalize the podcast market in Japan. 

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

This summer, I collaborated with a TV station to produce a new drama series about a young woman who starts distributing a podcast she records and grows as a podcaster with the help of her friends. While the drama aired, her podcast was available exclusively on Spotify. So viewers who watched the drama felt as if the main character existed as a real podcaster. We also launched an experimental “cook and talk” Original podcast that is featured in the same drama. I feel confident that Spotify has proven its leadership in this area by showcasing the capability of audio and cultivating new demands for podcasts in an impactful way.

Philippe Disini
Podcast Partner Manager
Spotify Studio Philippines/SEA; Anchor

How did you get into podcasting, and how did this impact your current role?  

I got into podcasting through an episode about Brian Chesky in the podcast Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman. I loved it and started to consume more podcasts from there. Eventually, I wanted to start my own podcast and did so with a friend. It was a short-run podcast (just 10 episodes), but it helped me get a really good understanding of the life of a podcaster and what goes into making a show. Both those perspectives—being a loyal listener and a small-time podcaster—come into my work on a daily basis as I try to grow the listeners and Anchor in the Philippines.

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about? 

I’m currently working on programs for 2022 geared toward growing the Creator ecosystem in the Philippines. We had a lot of successes last year, especially through the work we do with Anchor (e.g., we onboarded two of the largest Creators in the Philippines through Anchor). So I’m especially excited about being able to scale those approaches through Studios and Anchor programs aimed at growing the number of Creators in the country—for example, getting Youtubers, Tiktokers, and big broadcasters to get in the game!

Juju Denden
Creative Producer
Spotify Studios Brazil

About four years ago, I was living in New York and started listening to podcasts. I quite like the medium-length ones because I’m able to listen while I work, or just whenever. It’s super easy to get fresh information on the go with podcasts and listen to any type of story or true crime, or my favorite: roundtables about music.

Back in Brazil, I had noticed there was a hole in the podcast market, so I filled it with my very own Podcast Sem Nome, Porém Preto (Untitled Podcast, but a Black One) with five friends—making it the first Brazilian podcast specifically targeted for worldwide film production with Black people involved in any part of the process. It’s a safe and fun space to talk about films, series, TV shows, videos, and all content created, produced, or starred by Black people—we filled a gap. And this is what motivates me with my role at Spotify: finding new voices and good content from different backgrounds, filling the lack of content and gaps in the Brazilian podcast market, offering creators a space to develop their skills with the best structure we can offer to show their potential, and being open-minded to the many opportunities I can create as soon as see them.

What’s something you’re working on right now that you’re excited about?

My first project with Spotify is Mano a Mano, which is very exciting in every kind of way. I love being able to work on a show so important for Brazilian culture and using my expertise to help develop and mold such a good show for the listeners. So every day is a challenge to keep up the good numbers and quality, and this really excites me. In the meantime, I have also been working on some other shows launching next year that give me goosebumps, but I can’t tell you about them yet.