YouTube creator John Allen, better known to listeners as MrBallen, expanded into audio earlier this year when he launched the MrBallen Podcast: Strange, Dark and Mysterious Stories in February. As he looks to build out his growing media company, Allen has hired podcasting and radio veteran Steven Cohen as Head of Sales for MrBallen Productions.
Throughout a career spanning music and audio, Cohen has worked with iconic musicians like Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash as a music industry publicist on behalf of producer Rick Rubin and American Recordings, amongst others, for more than a decade. He later launched the first national daily radio show about soccer—initially called “World Soccer Daily” and then “World Football Daily,”—on Sirius XM, served as a co-presenter on Fox Soccer Channel’s “Fox Football Fone-In” television series for five seasons, and more.
More recently, Cohen helped launch production and ad-sales provider Cadence13, which was acquired by Audacy, where he spent seven years helping to build the company’s direct-response advertising arm to become one of the leaders in the podcast industry. He exited Cadence13 in April.
“It is a real honor to have been asked by John to assume this role and be a part of something where we are taking a fabulous brand and giving it a voice and life in the podcasting space,” said Cohen in the announcement. “It was always important to me that what followed my time at Cadence13 was another opportunity to truly build something, and that is exactly what we are doing.”
In joining MrBallen Productions, Cohen will not join the executive ranks at Crossover Media Group after all. Last month Crossover announced Cohen would become Vice President of Business Development and Partnerships for the company.
Cohen is a longtime audio veteran. Prior to his work at Cadence13, he was a National Account Manager at Westwood One from 2013 to 2015 and an Integrated Marketing Account Manager from 2011 to 2012. He also worked in sales at KFI Los Angeles.
Cohen has brought on industry executive and fellow Cadence13 veteran Jennifer Wood to lead MrBallen Productions’ sales operations as the Podcast Operations Manager. Prior to Cadence13, Wood spent five years at Veritone One and two years at WideOrbit. She earlier was a program director for a San Diego television station owned by Entravision Communications.
“To say I’m proud to have been asked to be a part of this groundbreaking brand, and at such a pivotal moment for John and the team, is an understatement,” said Wood. “To be a contributor in this partnership, the continued success, and the growth of the MrBallen brand name, is monumental.”
Allen had a meteoric rise to fame in 2020, first on TikTok and then on YouTube where he quickly scaled his audience to become one of YouTube’s biggest storytellers. Allen’s podcast has quickly found an audience since its debut earlier this year. The show is true crime-focused while also exploring strange and mysterious occurrences. It has seen audience growth rate between 17% and 20% month-over-month, making it one of the most listened-to podcasts on Spotify. The hiring of Cohen and Wood is part of a rapidly expanding sales division geared toward broadening the show’s ad revenue streams from direct and agency advertising.
In under two years of operation, MrBallen Productions has also brought on a team of over a dozen employees, rounding out a writer’s room dedicated to developing IP across mediums with a concerted focus on audio.
“We have a number of exciting projects in various stages of production and development, but I am personally so passionate about the podcast and overall podcasting medium as a platform for storytellers,” said Allen in a statement. “I’m thrilled to have a legendary executive like Steven joining the team—his experience in the space is invaluable as we continue to scale the podcast and expand the overarching MrBallen podcast umbrella into a network dedicated to raising the bar and bringing the art of storytelling to new heights.”