Hanging with the front-row celebs isn’t just a perk for Pattiz; it’s the business model of Courtside Entertainment, the Beverly Hills-based parent of his latest venture, PodcastOne. Just as he did with radio syndicator Westwood One, Pattiz believes he can turn his podcasting outfit into a national juggernaut–and revolutionize an industry whose commercial clout still lags its cultural footprint by a stunning margin. A 2014 report by ZenithOptimedia estimated industrywide ad sales at a paltry $34 million a year.
“It was a $34 million business before we got into it,” says Pattiz. “In short order, another zero will be added to that, and I think the potential for growth is going to make this an industry that will be in the billions.”
There are plenty of reasons to believe he’s right. One in three Americans has listened to a podcast, and thousands have created their own. It can be as simple as recording a rant and uploading it to the Web via SoundCloud or iTunes–or as involved as big-budget smashes like Serial, which Pattiz acknowledges he never would have green-lighted: “The return would have been too risky and too low.”
Pattiz is banking on celebrity. Most of his 200 shows feature prominent names like former Laker Shaquille O’Neal and comedian Adam Carolla. “There will be the Game of Thrones of podcasting,” Blumberg says, “and there will be the Keeping Up With the Kardashians of podcasting. I think his strategy is great.”
The world of podcasting may be new, but for Pattiz it’s familiar turf. “People want to create this chasm between podcasting and terrestrial radio,” says Carolla, whose hosting resume includes Westwood One’s Loveline and Comedy Central’s The Man Show, with Jimmy Kimmel. “It’s the exact same model in my mind: Create a show, do it consistently, send out advertising.”
Pattiz has plenty of experience doing that. In 1976, after he lost his job as sales manager of a Los Angeles television station, he decided to take the TV syndication model to radio and founded his one-person company in L.A.’s Westwood neighborhood: Westwood One.