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Celebrity Podcasts Are Fueling a Second Act

Westwood One’s founder aims to make the shows more ad-friendly

Three decades of courtside seats at Los Angeles Lakers games gave Westwood One founder Norm Pattiz not just a front-row view of Kobe Bryant—he’s built a Rolodex of Hollywood’s top names. Now Pattiz is getting his celebrity pals to create talk shows for a venture he began in February, PodcastOne, which sells ads in its free, downloadable radio programs. Superagent Ari Emanuel, who sits next to Pattiz at Lakers games, helped sign clients such as Kathie Lee Gifford.

Pattiz is using the formula he honed at Westwood One—bundling traditional radio shows to create a bigger target for advertisers—and updating it for the Web. Gifford saw enough potential to start Kathie Lee and Company three months earlier than planned, kicking off her first interview in October with Regis Philbin. “It’s like sex. If you’re both excited, it’s time to do it,” says Gifford, sipping pinot grigio after recording a segment with Kris Jenner at PodcastOne’s Beverly Hills studio. “Don’t wait, because somebody is going to lose interest.”