Pineapple Street Studios, the podcasting store behind it Will be wild and the official Succession companion podcast, has named longtime staffers Bari Finkel and Je-Anne Berry as the studio’s new co-heads.
Finkel and Berry will take over management of the studio from co-founders Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky, who founded Pineapple Street in 2016 and guided the company through its 2019 acquisition by broadcaster Audacy.
The duo will report to Weiss-Berman, who was named the EVP of podcasts for Audacy in March and now oversees all of Audacy’s podcasting efforts, including for subsidiaries Cadence13, 2400 Sports and Audacy’s local news channels, as well as Pineapple Street.
Following Weiss-Berman’s promotion, Linsky continued to run Pineapple Street with then Chief of Operations Finkel. But starting this week, Linsky will step aside and become senior podcast strategist for Audacy, continuing to produce podcasts for the company.
In interviews with The Hollywood Reporter, Weiss-Berman and Linsky praised Finkel and Berry for their leadership in guiding major studio and brand partnerships including HBO, Netflix, Amazon, Mailchimp and Tommy Hilfiger to Pineapple Street.
“There had come a point where it became clear to me that not only did (Finkel and Berry) not need me anymore, but they were better at it than I was — and that’s a humbling moment, but also just an exciting moment.” said Linski. “This company has greatly exceeded any expectations I had, and that’s largely thanks to Jenna, who always had a much bigger vision for it than I did. But it’s also thanks to all the incredible people who work here and who have made the thing what it is.”
Finkel joined Pineapple Street in 2016 as its first full-time employee – going so far as to break her foot with joy when she first got the job, she says THR — and has overseen the studio’s companion series business, including partnerships for shows such as HBO’s The last of us, that of Netflix Stranger things and Amazon’s Power rings. These series account for about a third of Pineapple Street’s revenue and sit alongside other business areas such as branded projects and original series.
Berry joined the team in 2020 to lead the branding team, which has created shows such as The 4 percent with Zapier and the Georgia Innocence Project, The invisible seam with Tommy Hilfiger and People versus machines including Aventine.
As co-heads, Finkel and Berry will take over the leadership of Pineapple’s 53-person team, whose members last year formed a union with the Writers Guild of America, East and are in the middle of the collective bargaining process. The two will also be tasked with helping Pineapple Street through a tumultuous period in podcasting that has seen major layoffs, show cancellations and closures for podcasting studios at rivals like Spotify and a slump in ad revenue. Parent company Audacy is also in the midst of its own financial struggles, and the company’s shares were delisted from the New York Stock Exchange last month after falling below the minimum closing price threshold.
Still, according to Weiss-Berman, Pineapple Street has experienced consistent revenue growth since its acquisition in 2019 and has been recognized with awards such as the Webbys, Gracie Awards, Edward R. Murrow Awards, the American Society of Magazine Editors’ Ambies and Ellie. price. And because Pineapple Street has never raised outside funding, the studio has always prioritized “understanding how to make money in this industry,” Weiss-Berman said.
“We’re pretty ahead in a sense because we’ve been working for seven years trying to make a profit in podcasting and not just trying to spend and experiment,” Weiss-Berman said. “In that way, I feel excited about the future of podcasting right now, because… it happens in every industry. You have to figure out how to earn and not spend, basically, and we’ve been thinking about that for years.
Looking to the future of Pineapple Street, both Finkel and Berry note the studio’s flexibility as one of its key differentiators. “Pineapple doesn’t just do one type of show or only work with one type of partner,” said Berry, “and that really allows us to not necessarily be reactive, but to be strategic in how we structure ourselves, the types of shows we make (and) with whom we work.”
“It’s not just ad revenue. It’s not just licensing originals. It’s not just production for hired work. It’s everything,” Finkel added. “And the fact that Je-Anne and I both have a lot of experience in those different areas, I think it’s going to be something that really sets us up for success.”
In the meantime, Finkel and Berry prepare to crouch down – with lots of Post-It notes, Finkel jokes – to chart Pineapple’s next era.
“There’s a lot about how we approach work that’s complementary,” said Berry, “so it just feels really good together. I’m excited and energized, and I feel very supported and rested and confident in where we’re going.