Launching a podcast can be difficult especially if you don’t find your niche. According to recent research, there are currently over 2 million individual podcasts out there. And around 45 million episodes.
That sounds like a pretty crowded market.
But when you dig into the stats a bit more, some real gold gets unearthed.
According to Amplifi Media, of that 2 million, roughly 25% have only published 1 episode. When you dig deeper, the stats get even more interesting…
Only 770,000 shows made it to the 10 episode mark.
So, even though jumping into the deep end of podcasting seems like you will be swimming in a very crowded pool, if you can commit to your show and stick with it, you have a pretty clear lane of travel to becoming among a pretty select few who have a “successful” podcasting experience.
My guests today, Tony Lupo and Ryan Fairfield from The Warrior Next Door, have been conducting interviews with veterans of World War II for over 17 years and recently spun these interviews up into a really great show that launched in the fall of 2021. The Warrior Next Door has a unique, serialized format in which Tony and Ryan add context to the interviews and take listeners on a real journey with their guests. It’s a fantastic show I recommend you check out.
But here’s the rub… getting a podcast up and running and building an audience takes some work. That’s what we discuss in this episode. How to launch a successful podcast, the pitfalls to avoid while spinning up your show, and how to make sure you can reach the widest possible audience to make the biggest splash.
If you are looking to get your podcast up and running (or firing on all cylinders), this is the episode for you.
Action Ask: Put down your screens and really be present with your families. Have real conversations. Pair up with someone and bring your passions to life. Preserve your family history through conversations.
Listen to the podcast here:
Get Your Podcast Up And Running: Successful Podcast Launching Tips With Tony Lupo And Ryan Fairfield Of The Warrior Next Door
My guests are Tony Lupo and Ryan Fairfield. They are the Cofounders of The Warrior Next Door Podcast, which is this great new show that you should check out. It’s a collection of interviews that they have completed over several years with veterans of World War II to start. It’s a great show as well as a great idea. We chatted about how we can help their show reach the widest audience, things that they can do to avoid the pitfalls of podcasting and podcasting in general. If you’re interested in starting a podcast, I think this is a great show. Check out The Warrior Next Door. Here we go.
Tony and Ryan, welcome to the show.
It’s good to be here. Thanks for inviting us.
This was great. Thanks.
I’m excited to have you both on the show. You were introduced to me through Megan Hartman, who’s a longtime friend of mine. She has a show herself called Maximum Enthusiasm that Relish Studio, my business, helps do the editing, and we’re a sponsor of. It’s cool to have other podcasters on the show. It’s super fun for me.
I ride bikes with Megan. As people who listen to her podcast may know, she’s an advocate for cyclists as a lawyer. I was telling her about this idea to have a show with some of the work that Ryan and I did with the Library of Congress interviewing World War II veterans. She immediately said, “You need to get ahold of this guy. Stu has done a lot of good work for me.” Getting the social media part of her podcast going. I’m glad we had a chance to get introduced and happy that you invited us to your show.
You’re welcome. I’m excited to learn a little bit more about The Warrior Next Door. It’s a cool concept. Ryan, can you tell us a little bit about how The Warrior Next Door came to be?
Tony and I have been involved with interviewing World War II veterans primarily for many years. All of these interviews have been archived at the Library of Congress through the Veterans History Project. Anyone can go watch those videos on that website at the Library of Congress, but we felt like there needed to be more done with these interviews. They’re out there, but we wanted to try to do something different.
We’ve discussed, “Should we write a book? What should we do?” Tony had a great idea of exploring the idea of doing a podcast. That’s where the whole thing started. He and I met at his house. We’re having a beer, and he said, “How about we do a podcast instead of writing a book?” That’s where it all started. It’s almost exactly a year ago that idea nucleated.
Do you have anything to add, Tony?
The main thing is we knew from the minute we started recording these veterans’ experiences and oral histories back in 2003 that it was important to the veterans we interviewed that their stories be shared. The reason they sat down and allowed us to interview them is that they felt like that period of history, World War II, for example, the Great Depression, even the Cold War afterward that a lot of these men and women were involved in, wasn’t getting the attention it deserved.
If you think about how much that period of history has affected everything that’s happened since then, it’s right up there with Thermopylae. World War II will be discussed thousands of years from now in the same breath as Thermopylae and some of these other major battles of history that have occurred and how they changed the course of human history. We wanted to find an outlet for that. I felt like a podcast was a good way to do it.
The other thing that was important for us, Stu, is there’s a lot of podcasts and books written about the generals, the presidents, the war heroes, but what we were amazed by, is it didn’t matter what these veterans did during the war? It was enlightening, compelling, and interesting. One of the things that we’re focusing on in our podcast, and the reason we called it The Warrior Next Door, is we want to be able to show people that it didn’t matter what role you had during this period of history, World War II. It was intriguing. Relative to now, it’s exotic and compelling. We hope that we capture that with the commentary that we add to the show that helps augment the veteran stories.
That was one of the things I found neat about how you were tackling these interviews in the podcast format was you two interject in the interview. Instead of having a single interview that plays out during the show, you’re pausing and reflecting about what was going on when the veteran you were interviewing was talking, giving a little context in terms of history or all of those kinds of things. It brought a lot more flavor to it than if they just listened to some gentleman talk for 45 minutes. I liked that format. How did you come up with that approach?
One of the things that I noticed is as much as Ryan and I enjoyed interviewing almost 200 veterans, I couldn’t sit down and listen to a veteran share their stories for an hour without shaking like a dog on point like, “When he says this, I wonder if people know that they’re talking about this thing and the other thing.” Something simple, for example, we had an interview with the guy, Ira Bewley, who we will hear at the end of Season 1 in 2021, who flew in Avenger bombers during the war and talked about how terrible napalm was. I don’t think a lot of people know that napalm was developed by Harvard University, the bastion of higher learning.
In fact, not only was it developed by Harvard University but it was tested in their football fields or a field offsetting it. That places like MIT, Stanford, and whatnot during World War II were all participating in this war effort. You couldn’t imagine Harvard University with their position that they take on various things that they focus on, generating something as terrible as napalm. Back in World War II, they did.
These are the things that we try to add to try to bring people not only to the time they were there and what was going on. At the same time, they were engaged in this Herculean world war, but also to add some color, context, and maybe enlightened people to some of the things they were involved in that they touch on in a very cursory matter. What are your thoughts on this, Ryan?
Everyone listening to our podcast isn’t as well-versed, or I guess as much of a nerd with World War II history as Tony, and know what certain terms mean, like what is 1-A? Whenever you’re going to get a physical to go into the military during the war, you’re classified 1-A or 4-F or something in between. 4-F means you’re rejected, and 1-A means you’re physically fit to go into training.
There are a lot of people that don’t understand things like that. We try to do is add color and explain things as we go along to put some context to what the veterans are talking about and everything. From the feedback I’ve heard from a lot of people, they enjoy that aspect of it. There are a lot of people who have thanked me for explaining some of the terminologies and helping them understand what’s going on. That’s what we’re there to do besides make fools of ourselves.
I certainly don’t think that you’re doing that. The episodes I have listened to have been enlightening. You mentioned, Ryan, people who haven’t been in the military don’t understand all the acronyms the US military is renowned for. It takes you a year to figure out what the heck anyone’s saying because there’s so much jargon and whatnot. These veterans do speak in those terms a lot. It’s cool to get a little bit of an insight into it.
I think back about HBO’s Band of Brothers, an amazing series that followed not the typical people that get followed in war movies or whatever you want to call those TV shows. There are all sorts of stories out there. My grandfather served in North Africa during World War II. He was a quartermaster or something. I don’t think he saw any action, but everybody has this role that they played in these campaigns. It’s valuable to get those stories out there. I’m excited that you guys are doing that.
The other thing that we want to do if this podcast continues to grow is we want to have the capability to have people like you or others call in and share these stories of their grandparents or fathers or whatever, with what they did, whether it was World War II, Korea, Vietnam, whatever. People have a sense of history. I’m proud of what my dad did during the Vietnam War at the US Navy. I’ve got some photos right here that I was looking at.
A lot of people are. It was a sacrifice. They weren’t going to frat parties and got drunk, which they were fighting for, our ability to do this thing. The bottom line is that these guys sacrificed 4 or 5 years of their lives. People like to share that story. The other thing with the Band of Brothers that was compelling was the cinematography brought people to understand what these men experienced and how violent it was.
We try to do that with our podcast as well. In fact, we may have succeeded a bit too well because we’ve gotten some feedback from our Harvey Hunt episodes, who was a Marine who landed on four islands in the Pacific that some of the details, descriptions of combat, were disturbing. When we were making the podcast, we wanted not to put in gratuitous stories of violence, but at the same time, we wanted to let people know and not hide from them some of the violence that they were experienced too.
I thought it was a little bit flattering that some of my friends were texting me and saying, “Lupo, you need to put something in front of these before I listen to a couple of them because I was a little disturbed when I pulled into my parking lot.” We hope that we can also do that as well as. Do an audio version of Band of Brothers, where we focus on the average GI and their experiences in a way that people can relate to it and feel like they experienced it, at least to some degree.
It’s interesting how sensationalized the depiction of war can get. We do tend to fall into this trap of seeing all the technology, the action, and thinking, “This is cool,” but it’s not. People are dying. Getting those stories across and achieving that balance is a good thing to strive for. I’m excited to hear that you guys are doing that.
To have a successful history podcast, you need to put out content people enjoy, something that is listenable and not just some historian drone talking.
We don’t glorify war at all. We say over and over again during our podcasts that it’s terrible that these men and women experienced this, but they did. Other people need to know how terrible it is. We don’t continue to fall into that trap. Ryan, what’s your comment on that as well? I know that you and I have spent a lot of time talking about what to leave and how raw to leave these. What are your thoughts on it?
We want to make sure that the veteran’s experiences, in his own words, are preserved and not forgotten. As gritty as that may be, and that’s I think something Tony and I agreed upon very early, which is we need to make sure that we leave the accounts of these guys intact as much as possible and try to make sure that we can convey what’s going on here. We want everyone to understand this history and what has gone on. Those three years and eight months that we were in that war have benefited our country, and a lot of the things that we take for granted are a direct result of that nearly four-year-long struggle that we were in.
We want to keep bringing attention to the fact that what these guys went through, men and women, women on the Homefront that were in the waves, for instance, or the women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, or Rosie the Riveter in the factories working, they all have a story. Everyone sacrificed, and it was such a great Esprit de Corps back then in this country for everyone to have pitched in the way they did. We think it’s remarkable.
We look at it through the lens of US citizens as the three of us all live here in the states. I’m assuming you both grew up here as I did. All of it is in that context of how it affected us here in the states. These are some of those stories. It was truly a worldwide effort. These similar stories, I’m sure, could be echoed by people in other countries as well.
The other thing that we get from these interviews is that we also, not every time, but a lot of the time, we’ll get a bit about their history prior to the war. These men and women were children in the Great Depression. It’s not uncommon for us to interview people who grew up in a sod grassed house in Oklahoma with dirt floors and who would manage their farm with mules and mechanical implements. The thing about this period of history that is also overlooked and maybe not appreciated, is a lot of these men and women went from a place where they never rode in a car because they couldn’t afford it because of the Great Depression.
A year later, they’re flying a B-24 over towns in Europe or the Pacific that they never heard of before. It would be like how SpaceX nowadays is bringing people up into space, and it feels exotic. It would have been that change in technology to go from a farm living on dirt floors to a year later, driving a tank across Europe or flying in a B-17. The other thing that these men and women share with us was this acceleration of technology. They’re exposed to the things that were completely foreign to them.
Having experienced none of that to piloting the best technology on the planet at that time, that’s a remarkable leap.
In fact, in the interview that I’m researching for right now, the veteran, William Bratton, talks about that. He went to an Indian school in Oklahoma, and a year later, he’s an advanced radar operator in an airplane in Avenger, bombing targets in Tokyo Bay. He keeps talking about how it was mindboggling for him. There were times where he couldn’t believe what was going on. It was happening so fast.
These are incredible stories. I know that you’ve had a lot of success immediately upon the launch of this show. Run me through the numbers quickly. How many episodes have dropped? How many downloads have you gotten?
I can’t recall. We’ve had our fourth Harvey Hunt episode and four Allen Senior episodes. That’s the entire Allen Senior series. We’ve had eight episodes dropped. We’re approaching a total of 800 downloads. We launched on September the 15th, 2021. It’s been exciting. You watch these numbers, and at first, there’s the big, huge tsunami of excitement and stuff. It tails off a bit.
I was talking to a listener at a conference. He was saying, “Not to get discouraged, because now you’re settling back into a rhythm of the people who are the base listeners, and it’ll start snowballing.” We see the base level or the floor of our listeners is starting to swell a bit. It’s been interesting and new for both Tony and me. Neither of us has ever done this. This is our very first attempt at this. We’re feeling our way through it.
We don’t know what we don’t know, but I will say that what I’ve been encouraged by when I look at the numbers closely is you had the initial spike of what I call the looky-loos, the family members or friends that you reached out on Facebook, and you’re like, “What in the hell are these guys doing?” What you see is that there’s a significant number of people watching all the episodes, including the ones that are being released. We’ve got people in Australia and Germany who are watching multiple episodes. What would scare me is if we had a big spike at the beginning and then nothing, meaning people didn’t feel compelled to listen to the 3rd or 4th episodes.
Not only that, over the three weeks, I see those later episodes, like in the first installment with Allan Senior, which is four episodes long, he’s a B-24 waist gunner. I’m starting to see the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th episodes starting to catch up to that very first episode. I’m excited. It feels like it’s starting to stick a little bit, but we’re a far cry away from where we need to be on the marketing side, which is one of the reasons why Megan pointed us towards you to give us some ideas on that. We still have a very long way to go, but I’m encouraged by our start. It has gone better than I thought it was going to go.
I’ll give you a little bit of context. These are set of numbers that I was able to pull. There may be some other metrics that would go against this particular measure, but some of the research that I did say, “If you get more than 26 downloads of an episode in its first week, you’re doing great. You’re in about the top 50% of all podcasts. If you get more than 72 in that first week, you’re in the top 25% of podcasts. If you get over 230 in that first week, you’re in that top 10%. If you get over 539, you’re in the top 5%.”
Based on the numbers and the number of episodes, and the fact that you’ve only been doing this for a few weeks, I would say that you’re at least in that top 25, which is a fantastic way to get this show kicked off, considering again, that you haven’t done any marketing other than putting it out there on Facebook. Kudos to you guys for knocking it out of the park, finding an interesting subject matter, and doing a good job of engaging people. You’re looking at the right numbers. The fact that you are looking at later episodes catching up to initial episodes demonstrates that there’s a groundswell of a desire for this material, so way to go.
We appreciate you sharing that with us. Ryan and I didn’t know what a successful launch looked like. For us, all we focused on was let’s try to put some content out there that people would enjoy, was listenable, wasn’t some historian drone, and on and on, and some professorial voice about President Roosevelt. People have heard that. People know who Winston Churchill and these people are. We were hoping to keep it loose. I’m not going to lie to you. We sit back and have a beer or two before we kick off a podcast.
We try to keep it relaxed and unpretentious. At the same time, we bust our butts, making sure that we do the research and that what we say in the podcast is as accurate as it can be, given the fact that sometimes there are conflicting statistics for a certain thing we’re covering. That’s something we didn’t know. Is this a successful launch? It felt like it, but I hadn’t heard those figures before. We don’t have a webpage yet. That’s something we want to do. Facebook has been okay, but it’s been messy running around Facebook gurus.
We did catch a lucky break. I sent a summary of the podcast to the television networks in Denver, and Fox 31 has agreed to do an episode, basically. We’re going to have Fox 31 recording a podcast and talk about why we’re doing it. We’re excited about that. I don’t feel like that’s Mount Olympus. I feel like it’s a start of a very small piece of this. It could take a year for us to get to the point where we understand how successful this is. That’s why we’re interested in hearing any of the marketing ideas you have for us.
The other thing to keep in mind is that the podcast world appears to be very noisy. No pun intended, and there are a lot of podcasts out there. However, when you start to dig into the figures of podcasts, there’s a crazy drop-off after about the third episode. If your show has managed to make it longer than three episodes, that puts you in the top 70% of all podcasts or something. I believe I have that number incorrect, but it’s a remarkable drop-off from people saying, “Let’s start a podcast to make it to Episode 3 or 10 or 20.”
One of the things that I always do recommend with people looking to start a podcast is to consider being consistent and committing to it and saying, “I’m going to put out one episode a week for a year.” If you can do that, it puts you in a pretty good space in terms of longevity in the podcast world. Certainly, there are people who’ve had shown for many years, and that’s fantastic. However, creating that intention, committing to it, and getting good at hitting that commitment is going to take you a long way in the space.
That bodes well a bit for us because one of the things that Tony and I made sure of when we started recording these, we wanted to have a lot of padding in the number of episodes. If we are able to get together and record these because I live in Tulsa. Tony lives in Denver. We get together about every six weeks, either at my house or his house, to record these episodes. We haven’t been doing it online yet. We have got about six months’ worth of episodes recorded. We’re going to record some more. Hopefully, we’ll be on our way to being a year in the bucket with this before too long.
What is your intention? What’s your rollout schedule? You’ve released eight episodes in three weeks. I’m assuming that slows down.
When we first started doing this, it’s like, “Let’s go ahead and release the entire four episodes Allen Senior series,” to give everyone a flavor for what a whole series sounds like. People can binge listen to it and stuff. A few days later, we released the first two episodes of the eight-part Harvey Hunt series. We settled into our routine, which is going to be a weekly, single episode every Monday. It’ll drop after midnight on Monday morning. That’s what we’re sticking to. We’re going to drop out one episode a week.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a scientist who talks about war. As long as you have a passion for something, you can start a podcast.
You guys nailed that. It’s pretty close to perfect in terms of what we would recommend bringing a show to life, doing a mass dump of a few episodes following that. In your case, where you have new content or subject matter, doing another semi-mass dump, and getting down to a scheduled rollout.
One of the things that we struggled with, I’ll get your take on, was how long should these episodes be? You can have episodes like hardcore history that can be 3 to 6 hours long, or you could have a little 10 or 15-minute soundbite things. We knew we didn’t want to do that. We wanted people to spend some time listening to this, maybe over a workout or a drive to work. We stuck to 30 to 45 minutes per episode. What’s your opinion when people ask you how long should an episode be? What does that look like?
My annoying short answer is the right length. You’re also doing a good job of hitting where I would land on that as well. Some of the most popular podcasts are this commutable length, which tends to be in that 30-to-45-minute range. That doesn’t mean that if you have an episode that needs to go longer, you can’t. If you have an episode that needs to go shorter, you can’t. That’s where my initial comment lands, but that 30 to 45 tends to be a sweet spot that a lot of people try and hit.
Ryan and I wrestled quite a bit with the weekly schedule. I was against it. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to generate enough content with the times that we met. Something that we experienced was we started to find ways to generate quality content that was fun to generate that didn’t feel like a chore, and we were generating content to do it. It was still fun.
If this isn’t fun, we’re not going to do this, but we were able to do it more easily. We started optimizing certain things we were doing. I don’t even think we’re close to fully optimizing it. I presume that’s probably something that you and other podcasts have experienced, as well as they’ve found ways to identify places or procedures that allowed them to generate content more easily, or is it always difficult. For each hour of content, there’s probably five hours of prep.
You’re doing a little bit different type of show than a lot of people produce because there is so much research. The other thing that’s unique about your show is the lumping together of certain interviews where you have a certain veteran that you’re speaking with, and that could be 4 or 8 episodes. It gives you some flexibility in terms of how you want to release that stuff. One thing that you could do if you want to is to do either a weekly release at certain times of the year.
Instead of being 52 weeks in a row, you drop the four for the first interviewee and maybe wait a month and drop the eighth for the next guy. It’s setting up expectations. In the first year, I would probably continue to do it on the schedule you have. In subsequent years, what you could do is you republish some of the older interviews and basically bring those back to life in terms of your marketing, or even create a new block of four and drop those again as it’s a callback to some of your favorite episodes or something like that.
You can get creative. There’s a podcast out there that intentionally has one episode a year. I can’t remember the name of it, but it is well received. It’s incredibly valuable in terms of the material that’s being conveyed. It’s fairly niche-y and incredibly well-researched. People want more, but this is what that guy has decided to do. It becomes a successful podcast because people love it. If people love it, that’s the true mark of success.
That’s good to know because there are some reunions that we went to that were focused around a ship like USS New Orleans. I don’t see that being something that we could do on a weekly basis. It feels like we’re going to tell the story of what happened to that ship through a bunch of different sailors’ viewpoints on the ship. I would almost like to release that out as one, big 12 or 14-week slug of interviews. I like your advice for the first year. Let’s get good content out there and keep it consistent. Let’s get people interested, and we can do special projects.
Another question that I have for you is I think one of the things that make our podcast unique is we interview these people. This isn’t just us commentating on some book we read or some movie we watched. These are people that we got to know until many of them passed away. We would share Christmas cards together. It’s a very personal thing. We want to tell that story, but I’d like to get your feedback. I still want this to be about the vets and their stories. Do you think it would make sense at some point to share more about that journey on the podcast? Do you think that would diminish some of the veterans that we’re trying to feature by talking about interviewing them?
That would be interesting supplemental material. I don’t think that would be a disservice to the interviews themselves. For example, if you drop a twelve-week series on this particular ship that you have a ton of information about, there’s a lot of research, planning, and other stuff that goes into creating that twelve-episode series. You could take some period of time in between the drop of that to the next major section.
If you felt like dropping a couple of episodes in there that talked about your experience in the interview process or something else that is relevant, you could bring on somebody and talk about veteran’s affairs. There are lots of different angles there that would be different but valuable. That’s where I think I would be testing those waters in terms of, are you delivering value to the listener?
It is part of the story and our journey, quite frankly, that Ryan and I are proud of. One of the things that we try to do with some of the episodes that are coming up is to encourage other people to do it. There’s nothing special about us. We’re a couple of scientists who work in the energy sector who have a passion for this and are still spending, but we have spent decades collecting these firsthand personal accounts. We encourage other people to do it. To me, some of the stories are the journey of how we met these individuals. What was it like when we entered her home? Who was there? I want to get your take on that.
You’re focused on World War II now. You might want to expand into other conflicts. Teeing that up for people, so they have an understanding of what that experience is like in terms of sharing their story. That supplemental material, for lack of a better word, has value, whether it’s to encourage other people to have conversations with their aging parents or grandparents or encouraging people to go out and start their own Warrior Next Door-style podcast. If it’s furthering the mission, which is to get these stories out there and to share these events before they’re lost to history, that’s a good mission to support in any way that you can.
What are some ideas that you’d have for us to reach a larger audience? Where we’re sitting is all it’s been primarily word of mouth through text, email, and Facebook, and that’s it. What other things do you recommend that we could do to help grow?
The first thing is, on your show, ask people to spread the word. There are a couple of ways that I would recommend doing that. One is, say, “If you like our show and you know someone who you think might like it as well, please pass it along.” Podcasting is fueled by reviews and ratings. Encouraging your listeners to go to their platform of choice and leave a review and a rating for your show would be fantastic.
That’s going to help you start to rise to the top for searches about World War II, veteran interviews, and things of that nature. I would also make sure that your profiles are completely built out in all of these places that your show is going to show up. I’m pretty sure you’re using Buzzsprout as your distribution platform.
Make sure that’s filled out as much as possible. When some of the other platforms at Buzzsprout pushes to ask for additional information, filling that in as much as possible and telling that story in as many words as they give you to tell that story is probably what’s going to be beneficial from a keyword and a search perspective. If you think of each of these platforms like Apple Music and Google Play and all of these other venues, Spotify, those all are little mini search engines for podcasts and for audio. Leveraging your ability to provide as much information as possible will help you get found.
Those are some of the first things I would recommend. People find podcasts by listening to other podcasts, and making sure that you get out on to other podcasts would be a next good step, particularly if there is some tie-in to what you’re doing. For example, in my show, hopefully, people get a lot of information and enjoy the show.
There’s not a great tie-in other than most of us have some connection to veterans. If you can get on to shows that are doing something in the veteran space and talk about your show, it’s going to be incredibly valuable. If we seek to start to grow that audience, even more, we can start doing things like advertising on some of these other shows that do have a good market crossover.
Stu, that’s a good segue there. We are using Buzzsprout. When I’ve been looking at their monetization tab or getting sponsors or product marketing, I see a lot of the sponsor opportunities out there or other podcasts. The only metric we have, which is total downloads, at what point should we start looking at going from trying to do what we’re doing now, which is appearing on your show to try maybe and do advertise on other shows?
Don’t make your podcast feel like a job, something that you had to record because it’s going to be out next week.
It depends on how much you want to invest or if you can get investors to help fund some of those activities. You have enough episodes out there getting onto some other shows to talk about your show is a viable free solution to start. Certainly, some shows cost money to be a guest. There are plenty out there that I think you could tap into that would be interested in this story. It’s starting to do the research, and finding ever increasingly popular podcasts to be a guest on would be part of the recommendations that I would make in terms of getting the word out and spreading that as far as possible.
Can you get us on Joe Rogan’s show?
You never know. This isn’t my saying, but the answer is always no if you don’t ask. If you start putting feelers out there and know that you’re going to get a lot of noes or rejection or get ghosted or whatever, but knowing that and setting an intention to, “I’m going to reach out to five podcasts a week and see if they would like to have us on as a guest.” Certainly, looking at demographics. That’s where Joe Rogan’s show might be demographically aligned. The start is figuring out who you think your audience is and making sure that you start there in terms of the shows that you want to be on.
I have a sensitive issue. You can always delete this later and not put it in your podcasts. A lot of podcasts that I listened to with history and stuff, they swear a lot. They’re dropping F-bombs and things. During the course of recording, we try to be conscious of our language and try to make it as PG as possible. I talked to some of my Millennial friends on the phone about some of the disturbing issues people were having with some of the podcast content. They were like, “I’m going to jump all over that. I want to see that.” What are your thoughts about how edgy these should be? Does that turn more people off? Is podcast-land like the Howard Stern show where that’s why they tune in?
There are plenty of shows that are very intentional about being rated for everybody. I would say that the nature of the content of your show, there’s probably an expectation. You should set that expectation that there could be sensitive triggering material on any given show. For the veterans who’ve been in theater and have had these experiences, if they’re hearing someone recount something similar, that could be a possible triggering event for them. I also think that it needs to be authentic. If your interviewees are getting a little salty with their language, that’s how that is. You can flag certain episodes for adult content.
Usually, my recommendation is to lead with authenticity. Trying to be as authentic as possible is the best place to start. Certainly, you can bleep stuff out in the post as well. I know that there are a number of shows that do that. I won’t flag something as safe for everybody if there are some language challenges within that episode.
Back to the podcast, I’m thinking old school where if you had a sports talk show, you’d never say anything about another sports talk show because you didn’t want to cross-promote them. Is podcast land a little different that way? Are people a little more friendly when it comes to, quite frankly, competing with other podcasts for viewership or listenership? How amenable would a podcast be to have a potential upstart podcast being cross-promoted on their show?
It depends on the audience, and if they’re bringing value to that audience and it’s aligned, certainly, I can’t speak for everybody, but I think that a lot of podcasters would be fine with that. They know that they’re bringing something valuable to the people listening to their show. If they leak a few people to this other podcast, that’s okay because most people don’t listen to one show. There’s certainly a finite amount of time that most of us have to spend listening to a podcast. I’m new in the community, but it feels to me that people are mostly pretty happy to help out. A lot of times, guests are hard to get. It’s fairly standard for people to come and pitch their book or podcast, or business on a show. That’s not uncommon at all.
That’s good to know. We should take your advice. Ryan and I will huddle up afterward and start trying to make these connections. It was some EMAP random, but some emails to various news outlets that got us an interview with Fox 31. Maybe we could have a chance to cross-promote our work on some other podcasts. Quite selfishly, some of these podcasters, like Dan Carlin, are amazing. I’m a groupie, and it would be an honor to be able to meet some of these people and beyond their podcasts. That’s a cool piece of advice that I haven’t thought of. I figured that people didn’t do that.
I feel like they do. We talked about this. There are certainly some podcast umbrella companies that have a bunch of podcasts underneath, and those guys tend to cross-promote because they’re all in the same family. I think of it like iHeart Radio. There were a bunch of shows that had a parent company. Those guys obviously cross-promote all the time and have their friends and other podcasters on to be guests. Those people usually promote their shows even if they are theoretically competitive. I do think that getting out there and trying to get some more people to know that your show exists through the same medium that they’re going to be using to listen to your show is important.
How important is a website for a podcast, not Facebook, but a standalone website?
A website is probably a fairly important tool to have, particularly if your podcast has the opportunity to educate people. One of the things that your show would benefit from would be a site where you could list source material for some of your interjections. If people want to learn more about this event, they could go read that here. Some people do like to listen to podcasts while they’re sitting at their desks.
The one thing that’s nice about podcasting is that it’s mobile. Someone can download it to their phone and go for a hike and listen, or they can listen while they’re commuting, or if they want to listen either in the office or at home, they can do that through their computer or their home device, whatever that might be. Having a website is a part of that puzzle. With your show, the opportunity to have that be something that furthers the conversation is a valuable addition.
I’ve been bogarting this conversation. Ryan, do you have any questions for Stu since we got him on the hook?
No, I’m taking it all in. Anything that he shares with us, I’ve been jotting things down here and everything. One of the things that Tony and I have kicked around is the idea of bringing guest co-hosts on that may be authors, for instance. Tony and I both know a few people that have written books, and there are some people we have that we’ve interviewed that may have been at it, for instance, a POW Camp is the expertise of a certain author.
One of the things we were going to try to do from a marketing standpoint would be to bring on an author like that. They could be a guest interviewer like how we’re doing this now. They participate in the podcast as the third person talking beside the veteran. We plugged their book. It’s a win-win for everybody. We get some exposure to their readers. At the same time, they might get a shot in the arm with their book sales, too, by listening to us.
That’d be an amazing thing to give it a whirl. The beauty of something new like this is that you can do whatever you want. There are podcasts that are dedicated to learning languages and talking smack about somebody. You can do whatever you want. It’s the blue sky in terms of what you can do. If you have an idea, the other thing is it’s relatively inexpensive to test that idea out and go ahead and go through the editing process and listen to it or run it by some people before you publish it. You can feel fairly liberated in terms of how you approach all this stuff. I haven’t heard a bad idea yet. I would encourage you to continue to explore.
Going on that, Stu, what are some of the most common mistakes you see people make when they’re launching a podcast like this that kills it?
The biggest mistake is not being committed to it and thinking, “This will be fun.” They get through a couple of episodes in and then peter out. Another thing that you have already tackled is getting some buffer. I unintentionally got a little bit bigger buffer than I meant to. I took some time off to try and alleviate that a little bit, but having a buffer so that if something happens personally, or you have an opportunity to go on a track or something, you have episodes in the can that you can drop and retain the schedule and that cadence that you’ve committed to and gotten your audience used to.
That tends to be one of the other big mistakes that people make is that they’re recording an episode this week without a lot of infrastructure and support. They’re recording an episode this week that’s going to drop tomorrow or next week. They’re constantly doing that. They’re always up against the timeline on things.
One of the things that Tony and I talked about early on was if we’re going to do this weekly, we’re going to have to be able to record a whole slug of these every time we get together. We need to make sure the quality is good. That would be a nightmare to me. It would be a job if I had to record a podcast that was going out next week. If I was under the gun and behind the eight ball that much, I had to worry about that.
Podcasts can be done remotely as long as you have the right equipment and studio.
What I love right now is that Tony and I get together, and we record a series on a veteran in a weekend. If it sucks, we can go back. We’ve got time to rerecord it and re-research things and be better prepared, for instance, if that is the case. To not have that luxury and feel like you’re always under the gun to meet your schedule and not have that buffer would be very stressful.
That comes as your podcast grows. You start to bring on producers and people doing the research for you. You are also able to bring on people who are teeing up guests. For example, if you decide that you want to start to branch out and talk to Gulf War veterans, you can start to line up those interviews. That’s when you can start to play a little bit closer to those deadlines.
That can be nice because there are sometimes things that are very time-sensitive that you’d like to be able to get out quickly. In the absence of that infrastructure, I think that sticking with giving yourself a comfortable buffer zone, you both have full-time jobs right now, and stuff comes up. Continuing to have that buffer zone is important.
You heard Ryan and me chuckling over some of the things I said earlier. If there’s one thing that I would love to be able to outsource right now, it would be the editing part. Ryan and I love coming up with ideas and creating content. We love reaching out to other people. A lot of the editing is falling on Ryan’s shoulders because he has the production equipment in Tulsa for it. We definitely like to spend less time doing that and more time producing content.
If this podcast ever does generate any revenue at all, and now, it’s not, which is fine. We’re doing this because we enjoy it. One of the first things we would do with that revenue is to streamline the editing side so that it could even be more fun than it is right now for us. We could spend more time on the creative stuff. The editing is super important, but it can be tedious.
Looking for those opportunities for things that you either don’t love as much or no, you’re not great at, or some combination of those two, those are the first things to try and get off of your plate, particularly if they open you up for the opportunity to do more of the stuff that you do love and are good at.
I got one more question for you. What’s your comment on recording podcasts from a distance versus having a co-host working together? Can you sense through the production quality or the interaction you listen to podcasts from people in different states or countries versus people in the same studio?
A lot of that you can take care of in post. Making sure that everyone has decent equipment is certainly something to take into account. Full transparency, I have recorded one episode in the same room as the person I was interviewing. I started the show in 2020. This is my 70th episode. Out of all of those, I have recorded one in person in terms of the same room. You need different equipment for that. I have recorded a couple of episodes for other podcasts live in the same room. Thinking back about that, I have done that, but you need some specialized equipment to make sure that works. You need directional mics, splitters, all sorts of things like that.
I have found for me that the remote works fine. I don’t have people saying that they don’t like it. I know that the episode that I recorded in person is going to be a challenge for my team to edit because the room was fairly noisy in terms of echo-y. We weren’t using the right equipment, so it’ll be fun to see how that one turns out. It can be done either way.
I know of a lot of shows that were in-person shows with co-hosts that had to move to remote with co-hosts. They’re comfortable both ways. I didn’t see a drop-off in quality necessarily. There’s always a challenge with internet speed, equipment, and things of that nature. You need to be able to roll with those punches a little bit and have a backup plan.
This may sound like an archaic question. Have you ever recorded someone on a landline? Have you ever piped someone on a landline rather than the internet or using their cell phone?
I definitely have been a guest where I dialed into a line, and we had a phone conversation. I don’t know if they were doing some multi-tracking on that or if it was a single track. It certainly can be done. You’re going to get some quality differences in almost no matter what. Everybody’s using different equipment. You’re going to be tasked with that.
If the material is valuable and people will enjoy it, they’ll sit through anything. If you have an episode that has some technical challenges, let people know at the onset that’s coming up and tee them up for it. I’ve had a good time talking with you guys all about podcasting. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for you as you continue to roll this out. I’m excited.
We’re very grateful for the opportunity to be on someone else’s podcast. This is all new to us. This is a first for us. You were recommended highly by people in the Denver area who do podcasts and need assistance in that space. I’m looking forward to a follow-on conversation on some of the ideas that you shared with us during the podcast.
Where should people go to find out more about The Warrior Next Door podcast or download episodes or get on your team?
Our podcast, The Warrior Next Door, is on all the major podcast directories. It’s on Apple, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio. There are about twenty or so directories out there. You can do a search for it. You should be able to pull it up on your device to listen to. We do have a Facebook page right now called The Warrior Next Door Podcast that you can go to watch the actual videos, the raw video from the veteran that’s being featured at that time in our podcast series.
I uploaded Part 1 of the Harvey Hunt raw interview to our Facebook page so that people can put a face with the voice of Harvey. He’s got that groggily Clint Eastwood voice, but better, I think. That’s the main thing. We do have TheWarriorNextDoor.com as a website. We have not built that out as a web page yet, but if you do click on it, it will take you to basically a banner page with the episodes on it at this time, but nothing else besides that.
One other quick thing is you might add YouTube to your channel list in terms of publishing either just the audio or if you have audio and video posting that to YouTube as a channel as well. That would be another thing that will help you guys spread that understanding or that knowledge that the show exists.
That’s a great idea. We can definitely do that, especially since some of the videos are already being hosted on YouTube through Grand Valley State University, a partner of ours. I don’t see any reason why we can’t link to that or to our own videos that we upload ourselves.
YouTube is attached to Google and has a huge audience. You’d see people engaging with the show over there as well. Thank you both for being on the show. It’s been my pleasure to have you on. I’m excited about how things are going and what’s in store for you. I love having conversations with people and talking through marketing, podcasting, and hearing about their experiences. I want to have people take action after listening to the shows. I’m going to ask each of you. What would you have people do if they had listened to the show?
For me, two things, one is to put down their screens when they visit families and talk to people in their family, especially if they’re older than them about how did their mom and dad meet. I’d be willing to bet a lot of people don’t know that about their parents or where they went to high school or what it was like growing up. The second thing is we got involved with being volunteer oral historians because we had a passion for it. Ryan and I have said this in the past. If either one of us were to think of these ideas separately, we probably wouldn’t have gotten as much done, but together when we paired up, we became a force. If you can share your passion with other people to help prompt you in action, whatever it takes, do it.
How about you, Ryan?
I would agree with that. One of the things that has been beneficial for me is having Tony on board. You can tell he’s an infectious guy with respect to his energy and everything. With myself looking at what would people do, I would echo that. Preserving history, your personal family history, start there. Go out and sit down with your grandparents and find out how they grew up, what trials and successes and failures they’ve gone through in their lives.
Get more plugged in with your family to start with. Everybody has someone who is probably in the military, and even if they don’t, your mom or your dad has got a story to tell. I would say the same thing as Tony, preserving that history, even if it’s just for yourself and you can pass that down to your children and grandchildren, I think that’s priceless.
One last thing to make it succinctly, I saw this in a commercial or heard it. It’s awesome. Don’t send your grandma an emoji. Go give her a hug.
Thank you both for being on the show. It was great talking with you. Keep up the good work.
Thanks, Stu. We appreciate your help.
We look forward to working with you on this.
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About Tony Lupo
Tony Lupo and his family harken from Denver, CO. He is a geophysicist in the energy sector and has a passion for mountain biking, camping, reading, oral history and, more recently podcasting!
About Ryan Fairfield
Ryan Fairfield lives in Bixby, OK where he lives with his wife of 19 years Erin and their 2 children Lauren, 16, and Hudson, 14. Ryan is a Geophysicist who aside from spending his spare time working on the podcast also plays guitar and is writing a metal concept album with his son and drummer, Hudson.