Learn From The Silver Screen and Proctor & Gamble.


(By Troy Price) Recently I’ve been able to sit and think a little more. I do think our current experience will change a good portion of our lives going forward, podcasting included. And in times of change it is good to look back to similar times in history and learn from those who came before us.

The website Mentalfloss.com proudly lists the Silver Screen and Proctor & Gamble as two examples of success stories from America’s Great Depression. A good look at what they offered during that difficult time may offer current podcasters a method to write their own success story today. This path may be contrary to the current practices and principles we now follow.

Simply put, today’s entrepreneurial and podcasting advisors suggest a multi-step launch formula.

                First:                    Define a small subset of people (a niche).

                Second:                Define something that causes your niche pain.

                Third:                   Develop a meaningful relationship with your niche.

                Fourth:                 Monetize.

The success stories from the movies of the 1930’s (the Silver Screen) and Procter & Gamble had a more simplified launch formula.

                First:                    Create entertainment.

                Second:                Monetize.

Let’s look at why this method worked back in the day. They called 1929 to 1940 the Great Depression for a reason. Everyone was experiencing pain. It was difficult to find a small group’s pain point that was not also affecting the larger population. And the Great Depression lasted as long as it did because no one had a solution. However, everyone still wanted an escape from their pain. That is why entertainment became so popular. The new technology, ‘Movies’ could transport the viewer out of their current situation to such places as OZ, Skull Island, or just to D.C. with Mr. Smith. Movie theaters charged movie-goers a small fee to escape and everyone made money.

Procter & Gamble made money with corporate arbitrage during the depression, but they also recognized America’s need for distraction. They were one of the first companies to sponsor serialized radio dramas. Procter & Gamble’s advertisement for their Oxydol, Duz and Ivory soaps helped to give name to the soap operas that we still enjoy(?) today and at the same time they made their brands household names.

Let me give you some advice. If I were just getting into podcasting right now I would model myself after these success stories rather than today’s successful podcasters. We are living in a time like the Great Depression, everyone right now is experiencing similar pains. Finding a unique pain point in a particular niche to focus on would be like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. If I were thinking of starting a new podcast I would focus on entertainment and escapism. I would create a show that people would listen to and forget their problems. I think me trying to address the problems of my audience would only amplify their hurt.

Instead of having an informational podcast I would choose one of the following options. I would dust off the novel I have been trying to write for years and podcast it. I would recruit my family as voice actors and try to recreate the classic radio shows that are now in the public domain. I would call up relatives and record them telling family stories that they embellish beyond belief. And if I had a product or service I could offer on the show, I would. Or I would monetize with Patreon. My two-step plan would be to entertain and monetize.

Think about this as you launch a new podcast.

Troy Price is the co-founder of Front Porch Studios in Berea, Kentucky. He has been involved with podcasting for over a decade. Contact Try by e-mail at  Troy@frontporchstudios.com.