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An Interview with Chris Spangle: Building Your Audience with Audio

Chris Spangle Interview

A common thread across this publication and the interviews we do is that, while we focus on the incredible growth of digital marketing, we absolutely respect and admire traditional marketing and mediums as well. Where there’s an audience, there’s an opportunity for marketing. Radio is one such medium. While airtime is being shared between actual AM/FM channels and the web, radio shows continue to drive a ton of engagement.

Chris Spangle is one of a kind – building both a national radio audience for one of the top syndicated shows as well as building audiences via the web as well as in a number of podcasts he produces. Chris previously worked in politics for many years as a producer at a news talk station, WXNT, and then as the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. He went on to work in marketing for the Englehart Group and the Advocates for Self-Government.

Chris is both the web director of a nationally syndicated radio show as well as a podcasting expert (with expertise in both audio engineering as well as content production). He’s also the publisher and editor of We Are Libertarians, a news site and podcast that covers national and Indiana politics from the libertarian perspective. He is the founder of the We Are Libertarians Radio Network, which brings you podcasts about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Chris has quickly become a friend and respected professional that I listen to about the equipment and strategies in deploying our own podcast. In fact, I now own a beautiful Zoom H6 after Chris demonstrated his. I used it in conjunction with Shure Wireless Lavaliers to record some live interviews at Dell EMC World.

With advisors like Brad Shoemaker of Creative Zombie Studios and Chris Spangle, I feel like I’ve got the best engineers on the planet helping us grow and tune our own podcast efforts! And the quality we’re producing is a direct testimony to their expertise and advice. With Chris’ content feedback, we’re already discovering opportunities to grow and engage with our audience as well as improve some of our production processes.

In this interview, Chris provides a ton of insight on developing your voice and producing engaging content that will establish your footing in the podcast industry. Be sure to listen – there are too many tips to list!

An Interview with Chris Spangle

Chris also served as the Chairman of the Board of Free Enterprise Schools, a nonprofit dedicated to expanding school choice. His favorite charity is Rupert’s Kids.

Transcription:

Douglas: Welcome to another in our interview series. We have a special guest.
Harrison: We have a really special guest.
Douglas: Yeah, in the office today because we’re in Indianapolis. I guess it makes sense, but we have Chris Spangle
Chris: Hello. Thank you for having me.
Douglas: Chris is the web director of The Bob and Tom Show, so nationally renowned Bob and Tom Show.
Chris: Absolutely, my dream job since I was eight.
Douglas: Chris is, for people that don’t know the other side of Chris, you have many sides.
Chris: I’m like an onion. Peel me!
Douglas: Chris is the founder of We are Libertarians.
Chris: Yes.
Douglas: It’s the leading podcast of the Libertarian movement.
Chris: I call it the greatest podcast of all time, except for this one.
Harrison: I like that.[crosstalk 00:01:05] Douglas: Yeah, I like that exception.
Harrison: He got you right there.
Chris: Yeah. We’re one of the top Libertarian podcasts, which for what that’s worth. I started that five years ago and I’ve worked at Bob and Tom for three years now. I worked in marketing, advertising. I worked as the executive director of the Libertarian party for awhile, worked in radio for awhile, worked at The Motor Speedway doing a lot of different things. It’s all led me to this podcast, this moment here. It’s brought me to right here.
Douglas: Right here! Let’s talk about that because I think for our listening audience, I’ve always told people that I appreciate traditional media. There seems to be this stupid –
Harrison: Fake news.
Douglas: No, not that. Stop.
There seems to be this looking down their noses at traditional media sources when you get into digital. People look down at radio or they look down at newspapers or they look down at TV, despite the fact that they’re still monstrously impact … They impact our lives every single day. I love having you on the show. We were actually having a conversation in the office and I said, “We have to do this in a podcast,” because you eloquently, and hopefully you do it again … You can do it twice, right?
Chris: Absolutely. That’s what she said.
Douglas: Yes!
Harrison: Insert Bob and Tom laugh here.
Douglas: [Lipson 00:02:32] set to explicit. No, I mean you really put it eloquently talking about content and talking about audio and the importance of it. I think I don’t care whether you’re a radio, TV, digital, whatever the hell you are. If you’re a marketer, you really need to understand the power of sound.
Chris: Yeah.
Douglas: Would that be …?
Chris: Absolutely. Bob and Tom has a massive reach. At any given moment, all of Lucas Oil Stadium is listening to Bob and Tom still across the nation and over 100 affiliates. I’m in a unique position where I’m working for a traditional broadcast outlet, a major media outlet. I’m the digital guy for that particular outlet so my job is to take what happens in the traditional radio show and adapt it to digital form and try and grow a digital audience.
I wanted to work in radio … When I realized I wanted to work in radio, I was eight years old. I was sitting on the front lawn listening to War of the Worlds when I was a kid. It was, at that point 75 years. It was the 75th anniversary I think it was maybe. It terrified me. I just remember having the thought, “If something like just having earbuds in scares me and terrifies me 75 years later, the reach of audio is really powerful.” Maybe it wasn’t that explicit in an eight year-old’s head, but I was always a fan of Bob and Tom. I was always a fan of talk radio and I started listening to podcasts as soon as they came out. I’ve loved podcasting from the very second it hit iTunes.
I think that that’s where the audience development really happens. We at Bob and Tom have discovered by people just flipping on the radio and hearing it that way, but now we’ve added video. Video in a lot of the platforms that I’ve seen, that I’ve worked with, not just Bob and Tom, video is kind of the introduction to various digital brands. You have a brand like We are Libertarians for instance or for instance, Pat McAfee’s doing a great job with his Barstool Indy, where he is doing a podcast. He’s doing a one- to two-hour podcast three times a week. We’re rolling video on that for him. He takes that footage and then he splices that into a one-minute video promo for the podcast and then blasts it out to his social media feeds, which his reach is very big.
You have that visual connection. With video, you have a lot of sensory connection. That’s a great platform to get people in initially, but to keep them, to get them to stay there, it’s the relationship building that goes on between the ears. It’s when you have the earbuds in and you’re listening to people like Tom, Chick, Kristi, Josh Arnold talk or on my podcast, it’s a cast of 20 different characters that, not at once, but a rotating cast where three or four of us get together every Thursday and we enjoy spending time around the kitchen table drinking beer, having fun, talking politics. You get to eavesdrop and you build relationships with us, but you were brought in through SEO on the website or a video that we’ve posted or a social media post or appearing on other podcasts like this, trying to get you to come in and listen. You stay because we’re building a relationship with you. That’s a very … Can I say douchey on this podcast?
Douglas: Yeah, you can say douchey?
Harrison: You can say douchey?
Chris: Yeah.
Douglas: Yeah, it’s a noun.
Chris: Building relationships is such an overused digital marketing term because it’s used in such an inauthentic way, where as a brand, Tide really wants to build a relationship with – [crosstalk 00:06:35] Douglas: Engage.
Chris: Engage you. They’re never really going to, a major ad agency is never really going to take the risk to really build an authentic relationship with you where they’re going to let the CEO get on a podcast and talk about his marital troubles or his political beliefs or his religious thoughts.
You can do that in artful ways on podcasting. You can get away with more authenticity on a podcast than you can on the two-minute video, you can in a written article that people don’t read anymore. I think it’s because it’s passive listening and so you’re consuming information in that passive way. It’s entering your subconscious and you’re not really thinking about it as much, but it’s the oldest art form. Our brains are geared for storytelling. Our brains are geared to learn information through the art of story and conversation. This podcasting is a continuation, much like standup comedy, a continuation of the oldest form of transmitting information.
That’s why I think podcasting, like radio, like standup comedy, is always going to be around. It’s going to grow as a medium. Everybody talks about the demise of radio and that’s fine, but it’s –
Douglas: It’s not the demise of audio.
Chris: Radio is never going to die. You’re always going to have radio. You’re always going to have audio. Audio is underappreciated.
Douglas: Yeah.
Chris: I see video get a lot of love, I see SEO and blogging and social media has always, for the past 10 years been the darling, but I think it’s audio’s time because audio is the purest form of communicating information.
Douglas: I like that and I like talking about that evolution because I feel like text was the first time, just with blogging and Blogger and WordPress popping up, that people got to see a personality behind someone’s brand or they got to see some thought into it and everything else. Because of bandwidth and because of technology, podcasting was still miles away, but podcasting adds that additional the influx of the voice and you feel intimate. It’s like you’re in the room with someone.
Chris: Yeah, I can read you or I can follow you on Twitter, but until I can hear you and I have a conversation, you get an intimate peek into this particular moment in space that will travel into your ears and you get to know Doug Karr better.
Douglas: Yeah, and I like what you were saying there because even compared to video, it almost seems like audio adds a little bit more to the imagination, that someone can listen but they are giving a little bit deeper thought where video is maybe, I don’t want to say it, but maybe a little dumber. It’s dumbed down. [crosstalk 00:09:41] Harrison: Spoonfed.
Douglas: Yeah, it’s spoonfed. You’re seeing all of your senses are taken care of, whereas with podcasting, there’s something left there.
Harrison: You never feel lonely when you’re listening to a podcast, right? I always thought when you –
Douglas: Some of them I do.
Harrison: Maybe. [crosstalk 00:09:57] Chris: Heard some pretty bad podcasts. I felt lonely because I turned them off and sat in the car in silence.
Harrison: My wife always makes fun of me. In the car, I always listen to talk radio. I enjoy talk radio, especially when I’m commuting back and forth or on a trip or whatever. It kind of fills that void of loneliness in the car, those type of things. I think radio is fine until hyper-loop or they fix the traffic issues of LA through public transportation. We’re always going to want that radio in the car.
Bob and Tom always proved that you could get a younger audience because, and we didn’t want just music as young folks because I grew up on Bob and Tom in high school and we listened every single morning to that. It was more than just music. It was the jokes and the storytelling. I think we crave that our entire life.
Chris: What Tom and everybody does so brilliantly is give people a break. I mean, there’s just … People want to laugh and people want to have a good time and people want to hear interesting people talk about subjects. That appeals to a broad audience all across the nation. That’s a very broad, it’s broad casting. What podcasting offers is a very niche look. You’re listening to this podcast because you’re interested in digital marketing. I listen to this podcast because of that. If you listen to my podcast, you listen because you’re interested in Libertarian politics.
Now we have made a choice over the last year or two to focus more on making you laugh and talk about current events than talk about politics and Libertarian politics specifically to try and get a broader audience. It has worked for us, but we will still always be the Libertarian podcast, which is great because we want to represent Libertarians. We want people to be introduced to the idea and we’re not trying to go after a massive audience of millions. Would I love that? Absolutely, but am I realistic in the fact that most podcasts don’t have that broad appel except for a Joe Rogan or a Marc Maron who are talking to cultural icons, who can bring in that big audience.
Most podcasting will still always remain a very niche thing, which is what makes it special. It’s what makes it different, that narrow casting as opposed to the broadcasting. I’ve been fortunate to have a seat where I’ve been able to exercise both muscles, where I’ve been able to watch how the broadcasting process works while at night working on my narrow casting skills.
Douglas: I’m blown away.
Harrison: Blown away.
Douglas: Let’s add the third dimension because you’ve talked, kind of that instantaneous single episode, but what you do, again both sides of the coin, both in podcasting and with broadcasting is We are Libertarians touch on the fact that you’re bringing characters into the fold, not just one time, but you’re basically pulling people into your storylines and your characters and developing them over time. I think that’s a huge part of your growth, right?
Chris: Absolutely. It’s the key part of the growth because I’ve watched it work, having been at Bob and Tom family long before I ever started working there. Everybody has a character. Comedy, the basis of comedy is defining a character and having those characters play off of each other in situations. I’m a big pro wrestling fan, okay?
Douglas: I used to be.
Chris: I love the argument. I grew up being a wrestling fan. I’m not as much anymore, but the storylines again, you have these defined characters like The Rock, like Stone Cold Steve Austin and then they have conflict. My character on We are Libertarians is a little bit, they call me Dear Leader, and it was actually developed on the fake Steve Jobs blog where people called him dear leader. That’s where my cohost Greg got it from and he memes my face onto Kim Jong Un and everything. The character has developed into the irony of a Libertarian podcast having a crazed dictator who is making you have mandatory freedom.
We just take traits of people’s personalities so we’re having someone on tomorrow night. She’s 21. She’s a very smart woman and she’s from Metamora, Indiana, which is rural Indiana.
Douglas: I’ve never even heard of it. [crosstalk 00:14:42] Chris: She wears a lot of –
Harrison: I think, don’t they have the boats along the old canal or whatever?
Chris: Yeah. It’s a historical town. [crosstalk 00:14:50] Harrison: I know my stuff, man.
Chris: Outside of Cincinnati and she wears a lot of camo. She’s very redneck. She’s not really redneck, that’s the thing. If she were that person, then you wouldn’t want to make fun of that person to their face, but taking that stereotype of you’re Larry the Cable Guy. We’re now going to make fun of you wearing camo and all these things, it opens up jokes. She likes Busch Light. She mentioned Busch Light and so now there’s memes about the fact that she won’t drink that fancy beer Miller Lite, stuff like that.
We’ve taken memes and inside jokes and created community around that, in both private Facebook groups, our personal chat where a lot of the storylines develop as we have just regular conversations. The 20 of us who are involved in this here locally are friends. This is our social circle. We get together every Thursday night and have fun, hang out with our friends and drink beer and talk and make fun of each other and bust. It’s a great time. You develop these characters and then the first 20 minutes of every podcast, it’s what I’d call comedy where we’re talking about our own … See I make you laugh, right?
Douglas: I like talking seriously, “What I would classify as comedy is what we do.”
Chris: Some people have written in and said I’m not funny. I totally understand that, but when I listen to my podcast, I laugh so hard at my own jokes. I think I’m hilarious. [crosstalk 00:16:15] Douglas: It sounds like … Now I follow you on Facebook too and I love the fact that you cherish your haters.
Chris: Absolutely.
Harrison: We’ll supposed to hug our haters, right? Didn’t somebody hear us say that? [crosstalk 00:16:27] Chris: This one guy was giving me crap the other day and he’s like, “You just think you’re blah, blah, blah.” I said, “I don’t know who you are. Go away.” A lot of –
Douglas: Click.
Chris: Yeah, a lot of the haters are people that I know. They know I’m teasing and they know because that conflict again, if we had just got on the podcast and everybody got along, then it wouldn’t be as entertaining as Brett Bittner and I having a fight as one of the characters or whatever. Again, you go, “Well what does this have to do with politics?” Okay well you tune in for the 20 minutes and you build that relationship with each other, with the audience. You have these little hooks where you can sell T-shirts around the catchphrases of, “Never Bittner.” Brett was irritating me one time so I was like, “You know what? I’m 100 percent never Bittner. We need to get rid of him,” and then it spawned into its own little campaign that ended up bringing people to the podcast and selling T-shirts because it was that moment of authentic, “I’m annoyed with you” that turned into a year-long joke and has brought money to both Brett and us.
That 20 minutes, there’s a certain segment of the audience that tunes in to hear that part. Then the other hour, hour and a half is serious political analysis because I don’t invite people onto my podcast that are dummies. I try to find people who are smarter than I am –
Douglas: That’s why we haven’t been on there, Harrison.
Chris: Right.
Harrison: Are we douches? I just like that we can say that now. Douche, douche, douche.
Chris: You and I both know that in the marketing community, there’s a lot of douches, okay? Let’s just be real honest about it.
Harrison: That’s my next book, Hug Your Douches.
Chris: Right!
Douglas: No! [crosstalk 00:18:21] Harrison: Do you want to publish that one?
Chris: I’m for it. I support it.
Harrison: I’m out looking for a book deal right now. I have not written a word, but we have a title.
Chris: Right, but see something like that, you’re not supposed to say douche on a marketing podcast. Why not? There’s some 20-something year-old person listening to this podcast in a cubicle who right now is giggling over Hug Your Douches. What’s so wrong about that?
Douglas: Sounds like a T-shirt!
Chris: Right, exactly.
Harrison: I smell money or something else.
Douglas: No!
Chris: Part of, and this goes back to the Howard Stern movie where they’ve hired him on at WNBC and Private Parts. They’re looking at the research looking for any reason to get rid of him because he’s so horribly offensive to the community. The people that love him listen for two hours and the people that hate him listen for two hours and 15 minutes or whatever. They go, “It’s because they want to see what he’ll say next.”
I think I’ve talked about storytelling. I get lost in all the things that I say because I talk so much, but storytelling is how the brain consumes information. Niche is what turns on that learning capacity. If you can surprise people by having a political discussion where you’re debating whether or not the CIA should exist because they have gone too far and they’re spying on Americans, sorry I’m ranting, and then in the middle of that there is a joke that somehow gets thrown in there, then it breaks up that tension. It breaks that up. You’re not going to hear that on Meet the Press.
Meet the Press has dismal ratings and nobody listens. Nobody watches it. I started down the Libertarian path in eleventh grade. Mister [Binn 00:20:08] stood up in front of the class and said, “You all realize that power is an illusion. I am one person standing in front of 20 adults. You’re adults now. If you all wanted to overpower me and walk out of the classroom, you could. Nothing is stopping you. The only thing that’s stopping you is you all have the illusion that I am in charge of you.” I went, “Oh,” because it was a government class and that was the most …
Harrison: Unless your teacher’s Chuck Norris.
Chris: Right.
Douglas: That wasn’t funny at all. [crosstalk 00:20:40] Harrison: That wasn’t?
Douglas: No. We’re trying to get on his show. Shut up.
Chris: We do a comedy podcast, okay? [crosstalk 00:20:47] Harrison: E equals MC squared.
Chris: I was talking about the illusion of power and what was I talking about before that? His comment got me all sidetracked. He messed me up.
Harrison: He had 20 people that could overtake you.
Douglas: He Chuck Norris’d you.
Chris: You Chuck Norris’d my brain, Harrison. [crosstalk 00:21:05] You have to have these funny things where … Okay Meet the Press has the illusion of power in political talk. Rush Limbaugh has the illusion of power in political talk. Everybody wants to emulate those brands because they are powerful. If you really want to stand out in a space, especially like podcasting where you have complete freedom and nobody is telling you what you can or cannot do and what you can or cannot say, then stand up and walk out of the room. Give up on the illusion of power.
If I want to curse and say whatever I want to say on a podcast because I think it’s funny and it makes my friends laugh, well there is a certain segment of people that go, “I don’t know if I can listen to political talk that has that kind of language.” Okay, well then we don’t want you. People over 40 who are boring hate me. They hate our podcast. They don’t want to listen to it, but really fun and interesting people … I’m attacking the people who don’t listen to us. Really fun people love us.
Harrison: Do you think some of those haters are going to hug you back?
Chris: They’re going to have a nice surprise. I’m going to make a meme out of them. In podcasting, you can give up the illusion of power. Just because every digital marketing podcast does an interview show doesn’t mean you have to. You can gain an audience by saying douche, you know what I mean?
Harrison: Right.
Chris: The space is completely wide open. The ability to craft your content to exactly what you want and what you think is fun, what you think is funny … I had a conversation. I’m being interviewed on Saturday. I have another podcast called The Chris Spangle Show where we interview local people in the creative arts, people like yourselves, actors, actresses. My cohost is going to interview me. She’s never interviewed anybody and she goes, “I just don’t know what to ask you that other people would think is interesting.” I said, “It doesn’t matter what the audience thinks is interesting because this is where Steve Jobs nailed it. Your job is to tell them what is interesting. You just be yourself and craft the content around what you think is interesting and somebody will be attracted to that.”
There will be a lot of people who will not like what you think is funny and that is okay. If you are in podcasting and you are trying to broadcast to get the majority of people to like you, you are doing it wrong because you are going to fail. You’re not going to have fun. You’re not going to get … If your goal is to … My goal is to have fun with my friends. My goal is not to build an audience.
Douglas: Statistically, you’re going to be average.
Chris: Absolutely.
Douglas: Statistically, the average podcast probably has two listeners.
Chris: It’s around 20 to 40 people and it lasts about six weeks.
Douglas: There you go.
Chris: If six months, whereas we have 6,000 unique listeners a month. We’ve done 200 episodes over five years and I want to turn it into a business at some point and I think I can because we’ve built such a rabid fan base. It’s because we started out trying to be Meet the Press for millennials and along the way thought, “This isn’t working.” When we just decided to not do the show for everybody else and start doing it for ourselves, that’s when things really took off.
Harrison: That’s the best advice I’ve heard in a long time, right?
Douglas: Yeah, and this is why we had to get the microphones out.
Harrison: That’s our knowledge nugget right there, of this podcast.
Douglas: Absolutely and because we’ve talked to you, I’ve had this discussion with you. We just met. When did we meet?
Chris: About three weeks ago.
Douglas: Three weeks ago and I told Chris that, “Look when it comes to textural content and blogging, premium content infographics, white paper, stuff like that, I’m very comfortable with where my knowledge lies.” I understand how to get people to grab their attention, pull them in deeper and deeper, but when it comes to podcasting, I know that people enjoy hearing me speak, but I don’t have really a strategy. This is why this is such an interesting conversation to me is to date, we’ve done 200 podcasts I think, something like that. I don’t even know because I’m not one of those guys that says, “Episode -“
Chris: You’re counting the blog talk radio area because we have to talk about that.
Douglas: I am counting that, yes! Even the half ones that flaked out that didn’t ever get listened to, but I really … What bothers me is that everything else, I have a strategy for. With podcasting, it’s often, “Oh my Gosh, we’ve got Chris that we can talk to on the show and that’s why we popped it up.”
I definitely want to be more deliberate about, and I love what you’re saying because you’re saying, “Hey, even be deliberate about being irreverent.”
Chris: Yeah.
Douglas: Right? Be deliberate. Stick your flag in the freaking ground and go try that. I think that’s a message that people need to hear out there, that if you’re thinking about doing some wacky show or whatever about you name it, video, go do a wacky podcast about video.
Chris: People watch PewDiePie because they like his personality.
Douglas: Yeah, absolutely.
Harrison: Let me ask you this, so –
Douglas: Wait! He just opened a can of worms there.
Chris: Let me have a soliloquy and then I’ll … Sorry I’m hosting your podcast. It’s a habit.
Douglas: It’s okay! [crosstalk 00:26:46] Harrison: A host is always a host.
Douglas: He totally did point at us like, “Stop!”
Chris: I probably host 10 podcasts a week at least and add and up of 100. It’s just my life, but yeah. You have the ability … For us at We are Libertarians, the product is the podcast. Everything else that we do is a strategy to get you in a funnel down to the podcast because we write articles. We post several articles a week. We have between 200 and 1,000 hits a day, unique page views or whatever a day. I don’t care about that. I don’t care if it’s a million or 100, as long as people are going. We have 89,000 Facebook fans. I don’t care about that. I want those people to download the podcast. I’m using that audience to get people back to the thing that will build brand loyalty.
The video program that we’re starting up, it’s all about getting you to taste the irreverence. Our tagline is, “All of the irreverence modern politics deserves.” It is Meet the Press and MAD Magazine had a baby. National Review and MAD Magazine had a baby and we respond. That’s kind of our goal is we want … That kind of floats throughout everything else. Obviously, we don’t have 89,000 people listening to our podcast so there’s a huge opportunity to mind that audience to get people back to the product.
Now, we’re a media-focused company. At Bob and Tom, my job is to get people to tune into the radio show. Everything I do is to get you to tune into the radio show on the air, on your radio. I want you to watch our videos. I want you to laugh and have fun, but it is to get you ingrained into the Bob and Tom community so you will turn on your radio on Indianapolis on Q-95 or The Fox in Cincinnati.
You have to have that central media product. That’s the central driver. That’s how we make our money. That’s how we have been able to build out a new studio, get all of our costs covered by donations through the podcast. I could put up 100 pleas for donations on our 89,000-Facebook fan page and I won’t get one donation, but if I say one thing on a podcast one time at the beginning of the podcast to 6,000 people, I’ll get 50 bucks a month.
Douglas: That’s awesome.
Harrison: Okay, so back to my question –
Chris: You may speak.
Harrison: Pretty awesome though, right? I may speak now. Thanks, Dear Leader.
Chris: Yes, you’re getting it. You’re getting the hang of it. [crosstalk 00:29:28] Harrison: Dear Leader, yes. I think, I don’t know if we dropped the ball with this or not, but we always are just spur of the moment podcasters, right? Somebody’s in here, we Skype somebody. Typically we don’t really schedule a lot of these. They just happen, but I know yours is every Thursday. Which way do you see it being a bit more powerful, people expecting something every week on Thursday or us capturing some of that magic that might not happen in a scheduled time?
Chris: In both my day job and my hobby on We are Libertarians, consistency is key. People have to expect that they’re going … You have to set certain expectations with your audience. I have a survey on our website and we’ve had a couple dozen people fill that out. Consistently, people tell me … In the early before we kind of said, “All right, every Friday we’re going to have a new podcast.” I don’t know what day to expect you. I don’t know when you’re coming out.
I think that we do Thursday nights because when you have an ensemble cast, you have to just say, “Listen, we’re doing it Thursday nights at 7 PM. Who’s available?” I recruited several different people because in the early days five years ago, it was me and two guys. We were just doing it loosey goosey and then you wouldn’t have a podcast come out for a week or two or three. I wanted it to be a weekly podcast because that’s what people wanted. That’s what they told me they wanted is a weekly podcast. I think at that time, really it was kind of like, “Dave Jackson of the school of podcasting says have your podcast once a week.” Again, those expectations that somebody else sets, but our audience now wants a weekly podcast.
There was a period where I got divorced in the last five years where I just couldn’t do it. I mean, when you’re going through emotional turmoil, being funny and entertaining and smart about politics is not on the docket that week. Fortunately, I had cohosts who could kind of carry that through, but people who didn’t know what was going on would complain and say, “Where’s the consistency? You’re not updating the podcast. Where are you at?”
I think you have to be. We set the Thursday night thing and release it on Friday because everybody kind of knows it’s Thursday night. I for instance the last couple days have messaged people and said, “Hey are you free? You want to come on?” I’ll kind of pick and choose who I want on that week based on what I think the topic’s going to be or just to keep it fresh. If you have the same people on every time, it’s always Greg and I, but you can bring on different people and we’re Skyping one person in. Another person’s coming in tomorrow.
I think you’ve got to have that consistency. We’re actually going to expand it at a certain point, have the long show because we do two- to three-hour podcasts once a week. Yeah, it’s rule breaking. You’re not supposed to have a podcast that goes beyond the average drive of 17 minutes. Well, people love three-hour podcasts because they’re [crosstalk 00:32:33] …
Douglas: I totally agree with you. We started long and I’ve always kept them long. People told me the same thing, “Nobody listens to a podcast that long.” I was like, “Okay well, my stats show you’re wrong.”
Chris: Right. Again, that person is telling you what they want when you have those anecdotal conversations. Don’t do what they want, okay?
Douglas: Right.
Chris: I don’t do what my audience wants. I created an audience of people who like what I like. They become addicted to the product because they like what me and my friends like. If you’re trying to broadcast, if your goal with a podcast like this is to gain credibility in the industry and to meet and network with new people and the whole goal is to get somebody on the line that you go, “I’m interested in bringing this sub person on as a client. I want to establish some credibility with them, have a conversation with them and I don’t really care if it’s two or 500 people listening. My goal is to get that person as a client,” that’s great. Again, that’s your goal. Other people will fall in line with that.
We’re going to go to … We have those long podcasts and we’re going to go to a once a day at a certain point of 20-minute podcasts where I’ve got this stable of talent. They just said to me about three months ago, “Hey we love this. We love being a part of it. We know it’s your thing,” which I’m so blessed to have such great friends who go, “I know that this is your, you do the 20 hours of work so we can goof off for one or three or whatever.
“We don’t get a lot of what we want to say in. Can we do a show?” When you’ve recruited this talent, then you can go, “Do what you love to do and I’ll just provide the backing for it. I’ve got the website. I’ve got the pod stuff. I’ll do the editing,” whatever. Then we’re going to expand out to once a day and I’ve seen people like Jason Stapleton come into the Libertarian space or Tom Woods in the Libertarian space. Your audience may not know who that is, but a Libertarian audience, those are the leaders in my space. It’s because they do a daily show. Jason came in and put a bunch of money into a beautiful studio and building out a really quality product.
He didn’t start off as the best Libertarian radio talk show host, but over time he just shipped the product and then the product grew with him, you know what I mean?
Douglas: Yeah.
Chris: Sometimes we get in podcasting, we want to spend three hours on a one-hour podcast editing out every um, instead of just shipping it and saying –
Douglas: I did that today.
Chris: Yeah.
Harrison: Um.
Douglas: No. Mine was yeah. For some reason, I was saying it every minute.
Harrison: I was going to ask you that, three hours so not a lot of editing.
Chris: No, no editing at all unless somebody says something that is just too far.
Douglas: I didn’t know that was possible on your show. [crosstalk 00:35:24] Chris: No, it is. There’s limits, okay? Our friend Harry is our racism insurance and that only goes so far. I can’t afford certain premiums.
We want the … My goal is to accurately reflect conversation, okay? I want to build a stable of people who get good at this. Greg and I have very good timing and chemistry because we’ve done it so much. Through our podcast and 200 episodes, we’re darn near 10,000 hours, but you find people that you click with. There was somebody who wanted to come on. I met them and I was just like, “I just don’t find that person interesting. I’m not going to have them on as a guest or a cohost or whatever just because -“
Douglas: He’s talking about us right now.
Chris: No, it’s not you guys.
Harrison: There’s no way. Come on.
Chris: Doesn’t matter if you’re 20 years old and blonde and attractive female, you’re not coming on the podcast because there’s no chemistry. There’s no connection.
Douglas: You didn’t contact DK New Media?
Chris: Yeah, exactly. You’ve got to pick the right people. I can’t tell you how to pick the right people that you want to cohost with because even if it’s your childhood best friend, that may not be a good cohost. It’s that person that you vibe with, that conversation just flows. I want the conversation to be natural so I leave in the um’s, I leave in when I stumble, I leave in all that stuff because that’s how people talk.
In the Libertarian political space, it’s a lot of professors with ties talking very professorial. I want people to hear the Libertarian message in a pedestrian way. When people tune into Bob and Tom, they want to hear people like them. They want to hear people that reflect them. That’s how that show has become the cultural icon that it is.
Any time you’re trying too hard, everybody can tell. I learned this in therapy. When I thought I was fooling everybody, but when I was trying too hard and pretending to be something, everybody could tell. You just got to settle down. Why’d you look at Doug?
Harrison: It’s our chemistry. [crosstalk 00:37:34] Chris: Sorry, there’s a lot of looking at each other when I said that.
Douglas: Because I’m in therapy.
Chris: Yeah, I mean therapy has improved my podcast a lot.
Douglas: No, we’ve joked about that because who was it? Someone was talking to me last week and they were like, “Name one person that,” and I was like, “The president.” They were like, “Well that …” I was like, “No well that.” I was like, “He says whatever he wants to say whenever he wants to say it, controls the conversation, and he has raving fans that absolutely spread the word and got him elected.” I’m not saying you should like him. I’m not saying anything else, but the fact is is that he’s so deplorable to so many people and so beloved by so many people, he touches a certain crowd of people exactly where they want to be touched. [crosstalk 00:38:25] Harrison: People love to hate him too, right? They have a passion to hate him. [crosstalk 00:38:28] Douglas: Yeah, absolutely and he cherishes that. I mean, that’s the beautiful part of it for me, from a marketing and media standpoint. I just love how he wags the dog. I think it’s incredible.
Chris: He’s been hugely influential in my podcast and career because … And in my life. I didn’t vote for him. I don’t think he’s a good person, but I think as a marketer, he’s an absolute genius and he … Memed his way to the presidency essentially.
Douglas: Right! [crosstalk 00:39:01] Chris: You know what I mean?
Douglas: Right.
Chris: I watched him and I just hated his guts, but I had a feeling. He’s really the first person to prove on a very broad scale something that I had thought a long time about because I work with a lot of comedians and have a lot of friends in the creative arts. There’s always that resistance. There’s always that imposter syndrome, where you’re not good enough and so you’re trying to kind of hold yourself back. Sometimes you just got to let it fly and let the dust settle out on the other side and know you’re going to be fine because you can get an audience for whatever you believe, think, want to do or say. If you’re living your life trying to impress other people, then you’re not going to build an audience. You’re going to build an audience of 100 safe people that nobody wants to go to a dinner party with.
I come from … I trained a lot of interns and I always ask an intern, “Do you want to be in TV or radio?” That tells me a whole lot about your personality and what your future goals are because if you’re a TV personality, then you want to be very polished. You want to be very presentable to a broad spectrum of people and you’re not going to open up and be authentic on camera a lot. You want to be on radio, you’re going to be farting into a microphone probably. You’re going to be talking about your sex life and all these crazy things and get attention and you’re probably going to be great at podcasting and you’re going to build a bigger audience than that other side.
Trump has shown me that you just got to be yourself and people are going to hate you no matter what. Running a massive social media account for work has shown me that it doesn’t matter how hard you work to make a large part of the world appreciate your brand, you’re never going to make everybody happy. The people that you do make happy are going to love you and stick with you through thick or thin.
Harrison: Will production value change at all when you go to the 20-minute format? Are those going to be the same raw conversations, or are those going to be a little more produced?
Chris: What we do is storytelling through conversation at We Are Libertarians. We have several different podcasts. We’re a network really. We have the one flagship show and then spinoffs so we have Frasier to our Cheers on some of these podcasts. That daily show, again it’s about getting the highest quality possible and I’ve got friends … I’ve got several castmates who moved out to Denver in the last year. They’re going to start a potcast because Denver is ground zero. People want to hear what is actually happening in Denver. They’re curious about it. I’ve shipped them equipment because I want to make sure that that sounds good.
Douglas: The cool thing is you don’t know when it’s going to be on and you don’t really care.
Chris: You’re telling me. Have you ever tried to manage a stable of potheads?
Harrison: On mountain time, right?
Chris: Right.
Douglas: The podcast is on Tuesday. What day is it, man? [crosstalk 00:42:00] Chris: This is a true story. It was 2 PM today and I sent a note to everybody and one of these guys wrote back to me, “Man, you get started early.”
Douglas: What?
Chris: I’m like, “I’ve been up since 6 AM, buddy.”
Douglas: 2 PM? I thought we were bad. That’s fantastic. I love this and we’re going to have you on I think some more to talk about this in depth. Where can people find you on We are Libertarians?
Chris: We are Libertarians dot com. Feel free, my Facebook and Twitter on the front page there. Chris Spangle dot com, feel free to add me on anything, follow me on anything. Send me a note if you want. I’m happy to –
Douglas: I appreciate your Facebook.
Chris: Thank you.
Douglas: I haven’t dove in yet because I don’t know your following and I don’t know how bad I’m going to get attacked, but I already like it and I’m like –
Harrison: A lot of good quality content. I see you in my feed all the time.
Douglas: Yeah.
Chris: Thank you. Yeah, I do this for a living. I annoy people for a living.
Douglas: You engage. That’s actual engagement, right? It’s not the fake wanting them to like me. You literally are engaging with it.
Chris: Yeah. A lot of the people who comment, it seems contentious, but I’m friends with those people, know what I mean?
Douglas: Right.
Chris: If I’m being mean to somebody on my Facebook, they know I’m kidding. I’m never going to be intentionally mean to that person. It’s just sometimes it’s how savage can you get?
Douglas: Yes.
Chris: There is a little bit online where if somebody comes onto my Facebook page, on my wall, and lights me up, my fan base expects me to go back. I’m a professional communicator.
Douglas: Sounds like a challenge.
Chris: Right.
Harrison: It’s coming!
Chris: No, I let things go for awhile. I’ll send private, “Hey just so you know,” but then when it’s go time, Doug, I’m a professional communicator, okay? I have no limits. I will look into the monster and see how like that monster I can become. [crosstalk 00:44:01] Douglas: You know what I like about that is, and we were going to cut it but I can’t cut it at this point, that what I love about that is that I got to tell you that for the entire election, so what a year? For a year, I literally had people surrounding me saying, “Stop talking about politics. Stop it.” My personal was, I really felt like I needed to talk about politics because that’s how you actually are a nice human being is when you can appreciate that somebody else has an alternative viewpoint and you can listen to them with respect, but they eventually got to me and I stopped talking about politics.
It was just because it was … I loved it. I went into it like Xbox. As soon as someone said something, I was like, “Oh, game on.” I still do from time to time. Today it was about military spending. I went off on, it was Jeremy Derringer so I didn’t go off on Jeremy. He’s a nice guy, but I bit back a little bit on him on that. It kept going and I’m respectful and everything, but I still drop my bombs wherever I can.
The thing is is it’s amazing how many people are just offended that I would actually have an opinion about something. [crosstalk 00:45:22] Harrison: How dare you!
Douglas: It grows weary. I think the thing that I like about you is that look, that’s your life. That’s where you’re at. With me on the marketing side and the B to B and businesses, it’s very much there are people that we used to work for that do not call me anymore. It’s only because I voiced my opinion online.
Harrison: I’m envious because I’m pretty vanilla online, I think. Right? I mean I’m pretty … [crosstalk 00:45:54] Chris: You’re the guy that uses Rockstar a lot, right? That’s what I heard about you.
Douglas: No! I never said that. Don’t look at me.
Harrison: Wow, man. I thought we had chemistry here.
Chris: I’ve been in politics since 2002, okay? When you’ve been in politics, I’m 33 so that’s a long time, and when you’re in politics it’s a very aggressive business. What people are really saying to you is, “My feelings are your responsibility and I want you to be like me and I’m uncomfortable that you’re not like me so I need you to shut up.” When somebody comes to me and says that I am responsible for making them feel a certain way, I don’t buy that. I don’t believe that. My job is to … God made me sandpaper to irritate the world, okay? It’s because I want people to think. I want people to push the boundaries.
The idea that certain curse words are bad is ludicrous to me. Who says that this word … I won’t say them here, but who says these words are bad? Why are they bad? Why is it that offensive?
Harrison: The illusion of power.
Chris: The illusion of power again. It’s questioning social norms. A lot of it came, I do another podcast called Creating Mya and it’s about my friend Mya’s transition from male to female. As a conservative Christian, as a conservative lifestyle Christian person in 2012, I can’t say that I was comfortable with that decision that she was making, but that’s not her problem. That’s not her job to live her life the way that I want her to live.
We have had over four years, five years conversations and asking questions about every aspect of being trans long before it was acceptable, long before it was discussed like it was after Caitlin Jenner and really getting emotionally raw and her bout where she was planning suicide at one point. It’s a real raw episode, that second episode of the second season. It’s about her questioning the programming of society because she has lived her entire life being a mistake. Well forget you. Why am I the mistake? You people are wrong, not me.
It’s a very interesting look and so she’s challenged a lot of my thoughts. You wouldn’t be able to have 14 episodes of two people sitting down talking like human beings, like best friends about a person’s transition on regular radio, on TV, on any major corporate media outlet. Just advertisers wouldn’t go for it. Bosses and lawyers wouldn’t go for it, but with podcasting I’m able to sit down and a few hundred people, a few thousand people at this point probably, are able to sit and listen to a person struggle with society and the expectations that society has for that person and questioning all of that in a real, emotional way, in a gripping story.
That’s why I love podcasting. I love the freedom to … The ability to do that and to make people think. So many people have written Mya and I and said, “You know, I didn’t know about this Caitlin Jenner thing,” or, “I have a best friend who just came out trans and I knew of the podcast but I never listened. I now know how to treat that person with love and respect -“[crosstalk 00:49:36] Douglas: It brings humanity into a situation that people, if all they did was read magazines or listen to mainstream TV, they wouldn’t have felt the feelings that they would feel listening on that podcast.
Chris: I’m going to plug another podcast first, Cost.
Douglas: Tell them where to find that one.
Chris: We are Libertarians dot come.
Douglas: No, the Creating Mya.
Chris: Creating Mya, you can find it in iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, but We are Libertarians dot com is where you can find all our podcasts. Cost is a collection. It’s a series of podcasts that we’ve done on We are Libertarians where I’m trying to show you the actual cost of government policy. If you’re a domestic violence victim, if you are a person with an epileptic child, if you are a person who runs a vape shop, here is what government policy, government changes where it’s done in Washington DC or the estate house, here’s how it’s actually affecting people. Here’s a young woman who has a rare blood disease that goes to prison and dies because of a political decision to privatize prison healthcare. These are two-hour stories that are emotional and gut-wrenching that you’re not going to get on any major broadcast medium.
I love the internet because it has given us the ability to see each other’s humanity for the good and the bad because you have the ability to look into the mind of Mya Axton and see a human being as opposed to just a dirty trans person, a person who is worthy of love, who has a very difficult personality, who is a very violent and angry person, but here’s why. Let’s love you through that. You’re also able to get on Twitter and you’re able to see the Nazis Tweeting horrible things at Saturday Night Live comedians and you’re able to see the fire hose of humanity for all that it is, both good and bad.
We have such a strong desire as humans to try and control other people to our expectations. We want Doug Karr to post what we want. We don’t Doug Karr to post what Doug Karr wants. That’s why Donald Trump is such a natural reaction to that mentality.
Douglas: That’s what I said. He’s the middle finger.
Chris: He is, to all of it. He’s especially I think for white males, to be quite honest, he’s a large exercising of catharsis. When you shame men for being male, you get the alt right. Instead of just saying, “Masculinity is okay. Feminism is okay. It is okay to be trans,” instead of just being accepting, we try to force people into boxes. That’s what you get.
Libertarianism for me is about letting people live their lives as they see fit and stop using the force of government to try and force others to live the life that you want them to live. Let people make their own choices. That’s what we’re all about and it’s obviously caught on. It’s going to be not only the greatest podcast network of all time, but the most successful.
Douglas: That’s fantastic, love it. It’s already successful. We are Libertarians dot com. Look Chris up. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter of course. Throw your best shot at him. He can take it.
Chris: Be prepared, okay? Because not only am I brutal, my friends are even worse.
Douglas: That’s fantastic.
Chris: I’m not even Scott [Farkas 00:53:11]. I’m the kid behind with the overalls going, “Ha ha!” Greg is the one with the green eyes.
Douglas: Then look at your own content strategy and we are here too. Harrison, you asked that question because we’ve talked about it. We’ve talked about, “Should we be doing this at a certain time every single week?” I think we’re experts. We’ve got a great clientele and everything else, but we struggle with these questions as well. I think this provides us some great insight into, we have to find our irreverence or plant our flag in the ground or what have you and really start to think about how are we going to build not just a show, but really an engaged series that’s going to pull them in and want them to go back and listen to the ones before and they can’t wait for the next one.
Chris: You don’t even have to be offensive or irreverent like we are. You can just get on a podcast and vent. We don’t necessarily know how to do the podcast the best way. We’re experts and we’re experts at this stuff, but we’re still learning at this stuff. Your audience goes, “What a breath of fresh air. I’m tired of these marketing douches who go out here and just pretend that they know everything.” [crosstalk 00:54:24] Douglas: Pointed at you when you said that.
Harrison: You’re doing everything wrong!
Douglas: Did you see how he pointed at you on that?
Chris: That’s because he’s a big fan of the douche.
Harrison: I also know that … We’ll just leave it at that.
Chris: No, and that’s what I’m talking about, that authenticity. Yes, you are experts, but we don’t pretend to know everything about politics or events. [crosstalk 00:54:47] Douglas: There could be written the bible out there for perfect podcasting. We’re living in the wild West right now of podcasting.
Chris: Right. My friend Ryan Ripley does an Agile podcast. I would never have thought he was an expert in anything and all of a sudden, he’s become an expert because he’s taken our model of collecting a group of people having a conversation about Agile and saying, “Let’s learn this together as a community.” You build an audience.
Douglas: We got to have him on.
Chris: Yeah, I wish I could tell you the name of his podcast. I’d love to promote him, but Ryan Ripley’s a great guy so I’m sure if you Google him.
Douglas: Fantastic, well we will do this again. [Music 00:55:27] Thanks, Chris.
Chris: Absolutely. Thanks so much.

Disclosure: I’m using my Amazon Affiliate link for the Zoom H6.


© 2016 DK New Media.

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