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Q&A with Pinna CEO, Maggie McGuire

I led Tuesday's newsletter with Graham Holdings spinning Pinna, the kids-focused on-demand audio app, out from Panoply into its own standalone company. It was a fairly straightforward piece, but it was pretty lean in detail. Good thing, then, that the new company was able to get back to me on a couple of things.

I led Tuesday’s newsletter with Graham Holdings spinning Pinna, the kids-focused on-demand audio app, out from Panoply into its own standalone company. It was a fairly straightforward piece, but it was pretty lean in detail. Good thing, then, that the new company was able to get back to me on a couple of things.

Here’s a Q&A with the entity’s new CEO, Maggie McGuire, which lays out the thinking and plans for the next year:

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What does it mean for Pinna to be an independent company, spun off from Panoply? What will be the relationship between the two companies?

Pinna is a standalone LLC, now a sister company to Panoply Media LLC, under Graham Holdings. Panoply is no longer involved in the Pinna business, but shares a tremendous enthusiasm and support for our success as we move forward independently of Panoply.”

How do you see Pinna’s place in the podcast market, and in the on-demand audio market more generally?

Pinna is the first on-demand audio network bringing podcasts, audiobooks and music all into one place in an ad-free service designed just for kids. We partner with best in class brands, businesses, artists and creators to bring innovative audio, across formats, to kids. We have a robust pipeline of Pinna Originals that will roll out throughout 2019 — these include daily shows, weekly episode releases and season drops across a wide variety of formats that include comedy, mystery, game shows, interactive shows that gets kids participating, non-fiction shows across a wide variety of topics that support kids’ passions and interests as well as original music productions and audiobooks exclusive to Pinna.

What kind of shows will you be developing? What kinds of companies, and potential creators, should reach out to you?

We are working with a wide variety of co-creators, artists, and brand IP owners who have deep experience creating great content, across formats, for kids. We are equally interested in tapping into new talent and ideas that drive innovation in the audio space so are welcoming talent from diverse backgrounds and content / media verticals with a focus on innovating in the audio space for kids.”

What are your goals this year? How should Pinna look by the end of 2019?

Pinna will be focused on driving brand awareness and subscriber growth and  taking the lead in the on-demand audio space for kids in 2019. Concurrently, we are innovating and developing a slate of original IP that will break new ground and captivate and engage kids and families in a whole new way. We want Pinna to be part of every kids’ day – whether it’s at the breakfast table, on the car ride to school, in the bathtub, while on a playdate, alone or with others, at home or in the classroom…there’s audio programming for every mood and moment – driven by what we know kids love. Our goal is to succeed at our mission…We believe in kids’ right to explore, discover, learn and play on their own terms — in a space created just for them. Through our audio stories, songs and shows, we inspire kids to giggle, guess, move, wonder, learn, puzzle and participate.”

Could you talk a bit about your background?

I led strategy, content & product development, marketing & programming for Scholastic’s digital portfolio within the eScholastic division of Scholastic, reporting to Chief Digital Marketing Officer. I had day to day oversight of Scholastic websites, mobile experiences, social media & digital marketing  strategy and new business across emerging platforms targeting teachers, parents & kids. Scholastic is home to the # 1 Teachers website, Scholastic’s leading parenting site, Scholastic Parents, and the Scholastic Kids site engaging kids with 100’s of top brands including Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Magic Schoolbus, Goosebumps, Word Girl & 100’s of others via video, games, eBooks, audio and more. I oversaw cross-vertical teams to develop, launch and market 100’s of digital products annually for teachers, parents and kids.

Prior to my role within eScholastic, I managed business development, product development and marketing for the consumer digital products business within Scholastic’s Media Division — leading Scholastic’s overall expansion into digital content production and distribution aimed at extending and reinventing Scholastic’s top publishing brands, original IP, and 3rd party licensed brands onto new platforms inclusive of digital games, video, audio and mobile apps.

Before joining Scholastic, I was the Director of Nickelodeon’s Home Entertainment Group, developing original programming for video and audio, as well as extending top Nickelodeon brands into the home entertainment marketplace working with distribution partners Paramount Pictures and Rhino Records. In addition to Nickelodeon and Scholastic, I have led teams to develop award winning digital content experiences with top brands and built distribution partnerships with Apple, Nintendo, Activision, Fischer Price, LeapFrog, Eric Carle Studios, LEGO, American Girl, Dr. Seuss Estate, Cartoon Network, Universal Studios, Callaway Publishing, Simon & Schuster, Sesame Workshop, Penguin Publishing, ICM Management Group, and Weston Woods Studios.

My career has focused on educating and entertaining kids in meaningful ways — adapting to and innovating with the emergence of new, innovative technologies — while building successful businesses that support that focus. I’ve had the pleasure of building and leading teams of the most talented people who are passionate about kids and who know how to deliver entertaining experiences of the highest  quality – and who know how to have fun while doing it! I’m thrilled to be leading Pinna and taking the business forward with an exceptional team and the very best collaborators.”

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