Our event “On Podcasts: An Evening with Ralph Garman” (and moderator Allyson Marino) was a blast! Ralph shared how he got into podcasting, plus technical and content tips for success in the medium. If you weren’t able to be there at our sold-out event, here’s the recap…
The Origin Story
Ralph’s broadcasting career began on the radio show “Kevin & Bean,” a morning commute show on KROQ. When he was laid off, he turned to podcasting and never looked back. He worked with Kevin Smith on the podcast “Hollywood Babylon” (and still does) before starting his own show, “The Ralph Report.”
At first, radio program directors told him “no one wants to listen to two people talk to each other,” but he found that wasn’t the case at all. As long as you’re genuinely interested in something, and have a point of view about it, people will show up. And if they don’t, get a co-host! When he realized that just talking by himself didn’t work, he thought, “Who do I know who has no direction in life? A comedian!” Eddie Pence ended up being the perfect “Vice Host” because “he’s just really weird. This is what you want for a host for a show. A nut bar sitting next to you.”
What should you talk about?
It’s a fools errand to try and figure out what audience wants and then give that to them. “If you start worrying about what audiences want you’ll fail. You have to figure out what makes you you. People will respond to authenticity and that is how you break through.”
“The Ralph Report” covers current events and the people behind them, because that’s what Ralph is genuinely interested in. He has a point of view about it, and he’s not afraid to share that. He’s also not afraid to share a lot about himself, and because of that, and because it’s a daily show, people tend to see him as a friend, rather than a celebrity.
How hard is it?
A successful podcaster needs a strong work ethic. “I’m working harder than I ever have, and I hate it,” Ralph joked. “I wish I could just be a diva comedian and let other people worry about it.” The hardest part was the learning curve on the technical stuff – everything that a place like KROQ had someone do for him. Now he’s the sound person and the editor and the head of marketing & distribution.
Ralph records in a makeshift studio in his house. He has three mics and an audio editing software called NCH, which he runs through his laptop. The typical day of his life as a podcaster: He spends every morning researching news and preparing for celebrity interviews. Late afternoon or evening he records with Pence. He then edits the audio and adds all the sound effects and delivers the full show by 5am.
You’ve recorded your podcast – Now what?
Ralph was lucky in that he had a built-in audience from “Hollywood Babylon” and his days on KROQ. But he also uses Facebook and Twitter and Instagram to get the word out. And don’t be afraid to get creative! In the early days of the podcast, his wife came up with the idea “Give the Gift of Ralph,” where people could buy a year’s subscription to the podcast as a gift. People came out in droves, and this grass roots marketing campaign just grew and grew.
Also, “build yourself a decent website. Get email addresses that you can use for marketing and newsletters.”
How can you make money?
“The Ralph Report” is on the Patreon Network, which is a subscription-based service for artists. (He chose a subscription model instead of ad-supported, because “there’s still a ways to go before advertiser pay makes it worth it.”) Pricing begins at $3 a year, for the lowest “tier,” but you can pay more to get on higher tiers with more personal content, such as a video of dinner at Chuck E. Cheese with his daughter. He points out that people are getting used to paying for boutique entertainment like Netlix, making room for podcasters to charge for their content. He has a freemium model, where he makes one day a week available for free.
Ralph recommended a fantastic app called Bon Joro, which notifies him when he has a new subscriber, and allows him to send a personalized video message to that person.
Final words “At the end of the day no matter who shows up, if you don’t give them something worth listening to they won’t stay. Ask yourself what sets you apart. What makes you you? This show is the most me of anything I’ve ever done…This daily show is the most fun I’ve ever had.”
A BIG THANK YOU to Ralph Garman and Allyson Marino! To learn more about Ralph Garman’s podcast, “The Ralph Report,” and Allyson Marino’s network of podcasts, Lipstick & Vinyl:
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See you next month!
Join us on May 21st for “Boosting your Social Media Strategy with Live Video and Stories.” Eventbrite coming soon.