How I Got Here: The Making of a Tallahassee Podcast

 In Podcasting, Small Business

The story of this Tallahassee podcast starts with a dog named Flynn.

Flynn is an amazing, if not ordinary-looking Florida brown dog rescued from a situation in which he was neglected, underfed and way under-loved. That has all changed now, thanks to a wonderful friend (and her furry companion) who fostered him until he was brave enough to be adopted.

Flynn and I have walked many miles over the last two years and have listened to a lot of podcasts along the way. Last summer, on a series of especially humid mornings, I became obsessed with NPR’s How I Built This, a show that highlights innovators and entrepreneurs who built the brands we love and use every day.

It was during one of those treks around the neighborhood that I wondered if I could do my own podcast – similar in structure but with a twist. Instead of talking about what people had built, I would focus on who they were and how they had arrived at this place in their life.

I’m no Guy Raz, but I do have decades of experience interviewing people and getting their stories. The trick would be to break down the barriers and allow them to really tell their story. Not their public bio or a recitation of their resume, or even their elevator pitch for parties or business meetings.

Their real story. The one that includes parts they are not super proud of or haven’t thought about in a long time. The influences that impacted them as they grew up and the challenges and opportunities that made them who they are today.

Starting from Scratch

I decided to name the podcast How I Got Here with Dave Fiore (I had to include my name so that it would be unique for Apple) and started putting together a list of potential guests.

I knew nothing about microphones, recording equipment (other than making a mix tape with a cassette recorder), editing software or any of the logistics of creating an RSS feed and getting it accepted by all the players in the burgeoning podcast universe. Thankfully, there are lots of YouTube videos and webinars on how to start a podcast, and watching those pointed me in the right direction.

Then, with the help of my wife, we turned a storage closet at the office into a recording studio, set up the equipment and were ready to go.

As was recommended, I launched with four episodes with plans to post two a month after that.

The Episodes

The idea was to interview a series of interesting, diverse people to create a catalog of stories that would speak to people in the community in different ways and provide a spark of encouragement and inspiration.

It became quickly apparent that once we got the ball rolling,  guests were willing to delve into their pasts with an honesty that made them admittedly vulnerable. And they were OK with that because they wanted our talk to mean something. Some revealed dramatic circumstances they endured and survived, while others have accomplished great feats that don’t come up in casual conversation.

I am humbled and grateful for their willingness to share details of their life that do not increase their social status or highlight only the good angles of their life like a carefully posed Instagram photo.

Why a Podcast

When I was considering the idea of putting together a Tallahassee podcast, people often asked me why. Podcasts are certainly hot right now, with more than 900,000 active shows on Apple Podcasts on every possible subject. But did the world really need another podcast?

The truth is I own a marketing company that is successfully serving the needs of some amazing clients, and I am incredibly grateful for that. And on paper, if I were to honestly answer what I should be spending every extra second of business time on, it would be more sales and networking and business development – the lifeline of any business.

So why spend so much of that time on a podcast for which there seems to be limited sponsorship or advertising revenue options?

Fair question.

The answer is that while I hope it will someday pay for itself and allow me to recoup the investment of equipment and necessary subscriptions to services that make it all work (not to mention the many hours I spend to research, plan, interview and edit each episode), that is not my top priority.

The real objective is to highlight incredible people in our community who have a story that listeners could in some way relate to and find encouragement from. I am making every effort to make the guest list diverse by any possible measure – age, gender, race, religious beliefs, economic status, level of influence, type of work, location, etc. By the end of three to five years, I would love for this podcast to accurately reflect the people of this region.

I am not there yet, and it will take time, but that is what I am working toward.

The Real Payoff

The biggest reason for the podcast is illustrated by this one interaction. Jami Coleman, a local tax attorney, proud mom and community advocate, was my guest for episode eight. Her story covers a full array of emotions, setbacks and triumphs. She shared with me a couple weeks after her episode was posted that her story had impacted at least one young woman.

I got Jami’s permission to share this: “Just yesterday, I was told that my story encouraged someone to take the LSAT (law school entrance exam) and believe that she could be a great lawyer, despite her past.”

There have also been countless comments on social media about the impact the podcast is having and thanking my guests for sharing their stories.

That is the reason.

For every person who thinks they have blown it or things can’t get better or that the hard work will never pay off — there are now stories in our community they can listen to that will tell them differently.

It may also help adjust their definition of success and what they are really working toward in the first place. Time has a tendency to do that.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for these times, I hope listening to the stories of people who do not share your experience or circumstances will provide context and understanding that will be helpful as our community works through tough subjects such as racism and economic opportunity, together.

How to Listen

Because podcasts are such a big part of my everyday life (I am currently obsessed with Dolly Parton’s America), I sometimes forget that not everyone has their podcast app icon on the home screen of their phone.

To listen to How I Got Here, another Tallahassee podcast or a show from anywhere else, you have several viable and convenient options.

First, let’s clearly define what a podcast is. A podcast is like a radio show on the Internet that can be subscribed to — a series of digital audio files that can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device. (So far this year, 78 percent of the downloads for my podcast are to an iPhone.) Podcasts also have multiple episodes that are uploaded to a server and sent out through an RSS feed so that subscribers receive every episode as soon as it’s available.

So whether you use mega podcast apps (e.g. Apple and Google), podcast-only services (e.g. Stitcher and Podbean) or music platforms (e.g. Pandora and Spotify), you can subscribe to ensure you never miss an episode of your favorite show.

If you would rather use a browser to find a podcast, you can simply search for the podcast by name and you will be presented with many listening options that are just a click away.

Most podcasts are also available on a website – either dedicated to the show or a separate page on a site from the entity that created it.

If none of those work, many podcasts, including How I Got Here, are also streamed on YouTube. It is usually just audio, but it allows you to listen with other devices, including your SmartTV.

The best way is simply to use the podcast app on your phone to search for and subscribe to your favorite shows.

So whatever you are interested in, I encourage you to find a podcast to keep you company on those long walks, daily commutes or afternoons working in the yard. There is a lot to learn out there, and this is a fun way to do it.

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