Jesse Thorn turned a radio show he created in college, The Sound of Young America, into the podcast that begat an audio empire. While Ricky Gervais, founded The Ricky Gervais Show in 2005, merely stuck around long enough to cement his podcast deity status, fellow pioneer Thorn created the Maximum Fun network, which includes seven active shows, from pop culture roundup, Bullseye to Judge John Hodgman, wherein the “Famous Minor Television Personality” issues verdicts on your life issues.
1. MAKE DISTINCTIVE CONTENT THAT SUSTAINS A PERSONAL CONNECTION
Marc Maron is much more successful as a podcaster than he was as a radio host because he is a distinct flavor, and when he is presented in a medium where people choose to engage him, they are getting what they signed up for. Josh and Chuck from Stuff You Should Know are sort of quiet, pleasant guys–not the first people a radio programmer would choose to give a show to. But it’s the intensity of the connection podcasts make that makes these two so successful, as opposed to if they were on the radio and had to reach out to grab attention. When it comes to podcasts, people tend to lean in more.
2. BUILD A NETWORK, BUILD A COMMUNITY
The really cool thing about expanding is that we sort of closed the loop on building a community. When it’s just one show, you can have a back-and-forth relationship with fans in the way that I’m sure Bruce Springsteen does when the Bruce Boosters go backstage at the Meadowlands. However, when it’s a group of shows with a similar vision and everyone who listens comes together, whether it’s on the forums, or on Twitter, or in real life at one of the live shows or MaxFunCon, it becomes about the bigger thing, rather than about being a fan of one specific aspect. The focus becomes the big picture and the values rather than the minutiae.