Interview with Local Podcast Producer, Jon Ekstrom

Have you listened to a podcast recently? In the last month, 24% of Americans have listened to at least one. While that may not seem like a huge amount compared to other platforms, you have to consider that this number was  less than 9% in 2008. Podcasts have been growing quickly, and there are hundreds of unique shows for listeners to choose from. In fact,  86% of podcast users enjoy listening so much that they consume over an hour of content a week, with the mean being 5 hours and 7 minutes. We recently sat down with Jon Ekstrom, who runs the podcast Jon of All Trades and is co-founder of the Denver Podcast Network. Here’s what we learned about the local podcast producer, Denver’s scene and podcast opportunities in general:

Why did you start your own podcast?

I had my own radio show for five years in college, it aired every Friday night. I love creating and have also been blogging for the last 15 years. One of my good friends, host of the Reel Nerds Podcast, who knew I had a background in radio and blogging, told me how relatively easy it was to start a podcast. And since I loved the format of podcasts, starting one came naturally to me.  

Kyle Gass, musician from Tenacious D

What is the difference between a radio show and a podcast?

The barriers to entry. Getting your own radio show involves getting permission and buy-in from stations, which adds layers of complexity. Podcasts are much easier and more affordable to start on your own. All you need is a website with an RSS feed, recording equipment and a good idea. In practical terms, it’s about $500 or so to start and do it right.

How did you grow a following?

One listener at a time and with a lot of hustle. The first rule of growing a following is don’t suck. For the first year I focused entirely on creating good content, not on getting followers. After you get some quality shows under your belt, then you start promoting. Word of mouth is huge with podcasts, as well as sharing your work on social media channels. I have gained a lot of listeners from my LinkedIn connections.

Can you advertise on a podcast? How?

Absolutely, and it’s not just national podcasts – local podcasters are open to that opportunity, too, so don’t be afraid to go hyperlocal. Podcast listeners are an abnormally loyal and engaged audience, so if you advertise on a podcast, an advertiser’s message is more likely to resonate. If there is a show that has an audience you believe would be interested in your business, you can reach out to the host via the contact page and negotiate something.

Jim O’Heir from hit TV show Parks and Recreation

How do you know if your segment performed well, or if it was well received?

I always look at how many people downloaded my show, but outside of the raw numbers it’s hard to tell. However, with really good shows, I do get a lot of feedback on social media. I look to see how people are talking about it and if they are sharing it with their 

networks. I also love getting suggestions on social media so I can learn what my listeners would like me to do in the future. You can also encourage your fans to rate and review on iTunes and subscribe to your podcast.

What podcasts do you listen to?

I listen to a lot of local podcasts. Changing Denver is my favorite, Paul Karolyi is a gifted storyteller. Motherf**ker in a Cape is another great one, hosted by Alan Brooks. Nationally, it is hard to get better than WTF by Marc Maron, who, is one of the pioneers in the robust growth of podcasts.

Does Denver have a big scene? How do you interact with other podcasters?

Forming the Denver Podcast Network helped me connect with other podcasters who are producing high quality shows. There’s a lot of cross promotion on our shows, and we support each other. The Denver podcast community is not as large as New York or Los Angeles, but generally a podcast scene is directly proportional to the size of the city.

Where do you see podcasts going in the future?

Podcasts are still on the ascent. If you think of the development of podcasts as a baseball game, we are in the top of the third inning. Currently, there is no real middle class in podcasts. It’s either a hobby you do for basically no money, or you are Bill Simmons making millions of dollars. I think a middle class will soon emerge in a real way, along with new advertising opportunities.

Kyle Clark from 9News

Anything else you would like to add?

Podcasts can fill in the gap of longer form storytelling and are hyperlocal. A fun stat I like regarding podcast audiences is that the majority of them listen to an episode within 48 hours of downloading and then usually listen to most of it, if not the entire thing.