What do you do when your magazine editor approaches you to start a podcast? One option is to run screaming from her office. The second option is to put her off for months with vague responses and avoidance until that’s no longer an option. Then you break down and say yes. I chose the latter path and haven’t looked back – well, not too much anyway.
For those of you who haven’t tuned in yet, podcasts are basically audio (and increasingly video) spoken word recordings on a particular theme or topic with a focus that ranges from niche to broad. They are posted to a podcast hosting service at regular intervals and then released to directories such as Apple and Spotify for download onto your smartphone or computer. Alternatively, you can listen on the podcast’s website.
According to podcast hosting service Buzzsprout, as of May of this year, over one third of Americans (104 million) listen to podcasts regularly. In the US, 38% of people over 12 are monthly podcast listeners and 28% are weekly podcast listeners. The most popular age group that listens is 35-54 year olds, accounting for 43% of listeners. And the numbers keep growing.
The birth of Moxie
In August 2021, Main Street Magazine’s Thorunn Kristjandottir, the editor mentioned above, and I sat down to strategize on our podcast’s theme. Still feeling hesitant and nervous, we explored topics and asked ourselves questions such as: What would we call it? Who would listen to us? What could we do that hasn’t been done? Can we do this as a part-time endeavor?
We wanted to elicit relatable stories from people and celebrate them. We are drawn to the courage, grit, and resilience – the moxie – in people. We are both curious and love conversations that go deep. We wanted listeners to walk away with some little – or big – nugget of advice or inspiration that they could use in their lives. And so, Main Street Moxie was born. Well, the idea of it anyway.
Then the hard work began and responsibilities were divvied up. Thorunn would do what she does best – design a logo and visuals that screamed moxie; create the website look, feel, and content; launch social media accounts as well as craft our marketing strategy.
I did what I do best – research. I read books and podcast advice websites and blogs. I spoke with people in the industry. I delved into product descriptions and reviews for microphones, headphones, the Zoom H-6, sound editing programs, podcast hosting services, and how to get listed in a podcast directory.
If you had told me a year ago that this 59-year-old writer, educator, mother of three, and proud Luddite would be entering the world of sound recording and editing I would have issued a hearty guffaw. In my world, words – no problem; tech – big problem.
By December we had our first guests invited and booked. Thorunn had secured sponsors and commissioned our theme music, which Johnny G. of the Music Cellar composed and performed. She worked with her website guru, Joe Villanova to get the site up and running. We recorded a mini-episode to launch the podcast and uploaded it to Buzzsprout, our podcast host. After that, we registered with directories so our podcast would find its way into people’s ears. We also posted it to the Main Street Moxie website.
It’s just work
For me, December and January represented the winter of my discontent. Learning how to edit in the sound editing platform Audacity evoked sheer terror in me. I don’t know when I’ve doubted my ability to master a skill this much. It was the hardest thing I have done since childbirth, and I’m not exaggerating.
My rants, tantrums, mutterings, and expletives were met with, “It’s just work, Mary.” Not what I wanted to hear, but true nonetheless. Launch date was hurtling closer and I was still crashing and burning in Audacity. My laptop and confidence were freezing up trying to edit delete “ums” and “likes” and download or upload content. When I finally upgraded my jalopy of a laptop and switched to a large memory external hard drive I felt like I had turned the corner and had ascended the near-vertical learning curve.
We have lift off
Thorunn and I devised questions, divided up who would say what, recorded sponsorship spots, and posted on social media to build excitement. Then, on January 23, 2022, we released our first podcast episode and settled into a biweekly routine that has become just manageable for this part-time endeavor.
Fast forward to June and we’re in a happy routine with the give and take of an old married couple. Our guests have been inspirational and diverse, sharing their stories with honesty and humility, and offering up tips to help our audience move their own moxie needle in small ways that make sense for them. We have listeners from across the country, and even a few international fans.
Our guests have included insurance broker and farmer Kirk Kneller; retired attorney and President William Howard Taft’s great-granddaughter Sarah Taft Jones; mayor of Hudson Kamal Johnson; history teacher Peter Vermilyea serving as our Moxie Proxy for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt; high vibe chick and life coach Stephanie Stanton; oral historian Judith Monachina; Scenic Hudson president Ned Sullivan; Berkshire Eagle owner Fred Rutberg; mentor and advocate for women in communications Abby Auerbach; Bard College professor Roger Berkowitz as Moxie Proxy for political thinker Hannah Arendt; and yogini and writer Sarah Getz as Moxie Proxy for The New Yorker artist Arthur Kimmig Getz.
We’re excited for our upcoming guests too. We’ve started to feel confident in our ability as podcasters. We feel privileged and humbled to share the moxie stories of people around us. And we’re having fun doing it!
Through our own moxie, sheer ignorance of what was involved, perseverance, and a few setbacks along the way, we’re proud of the podcast and growing listenership. It’s been quite a ride and one that we’re grateful to be on. Give a listen – let us know what you think!
You can listen to Main Street Moxie at www.mainstreetmoxie.press or wherever you listen to podcasts.