7 Minute Stories

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Aaron Calafato’s weekly podcast is 7 minutes long. He tells stories about his life with a goal of creating an intimate connection and relationship with his audience.

PBJ: How and why did you get into podcasting?
Aaron Calafato: I made my living touring monologues and stories around the country for several years. But after my daughter was born in 2013, I needed a way to continue my storytelling without having to be on the road all the time. I wanted to be present for her. So, I started experimenting with podcasting. I had always been a huge fan of the radio, so I thought maybe podcasting could be a great way to share my stories.

PBJ: Tell us how you launched, what equipment you used and how you lined up interviews to get rolling?
Aaron Calafato: I officially started podcasting in 2014 doing a basic interview show. But my real passion and knack is raw storytelling. Think of someone like a Spalding Gray, Jean Shepherd or Paul Harvey. I decided to put the interview show on hold and launch a pure storytelling podcast called 7 Minute Stories (7ms). The launch was pretty simple. Me, a microphone and a 7 minute story that I shared every week. In the future we do plan on having a month or two during the year dedicated to guests who also want to share their 7 minute stories. As far as equipment. I use a Shure H4 microphone. I don’t think that’s traditionally used for vocals, but my producer and I like the way in sounds. I record directly into a Zoom H4 and my producer takes care of the rest.

PBJ: Who edits the show for you or do you do that yourself?
Aaron Calafato: I couldn’t do this alone. I have a great team. My longtime colleague Dr. Ken Wendt does the editing and all the audio production. He uses Abelton live 10 to work his audio magic on every episode.

PBJ: What is your show about?

Aaron Calafato

Aaron Calafato: The format is simple. I tell and share a new 7 Minute Story every Thursday. The stories are personal but the podcast is about creating an intimate connection and relationship with my audience. I tell these 7 minute story vignettes to share my memories, explore my psyche and attempt to make sense of the world. Oh! also, I don’t write any of my stories. I press record and tell them extemporaneously.

PBJ: Are they all stories about your life?
Aaron Calafato: For the most part yes. They are all experiences I’ve had or am currently going through. But they are just as much about the world, the people and the situations I experience in each story.

PBJ: How do you decide 7 minutes was a good time?
Aaron Calafato: The choice to use the “7 Minutes” wasn’t totally arbitrary. I always built my longer monologues by crafting smaller story vignettes and stringing them together. These little story vignettes usually lasted (coincidentally) about 7 minutes. When I decided to launch the 7ms podcast in 2018, I thought these short stories could stand on own as pieces of compelling micro content. I think they are tailored made for people that love storytelling but have the reality of limited time during their day.

PBJ: What is the key to telling a great story?
Aaron Calafato: Boy, this is something I’m really passionate about and their are a lot of keys.. But I would say that one of the most important aspects of telling a great story is revealing something vulnerable about yourself. The power to communicate one’s vulnerability is the foundation for building a connection with your audience.

PBJ: Who creates the cartoon artwork?
Aaron Calafato: He’s amazing! His name is Pete Whitehead. A very talented artist who in the past has been employed by both American Greetings and Hallmark.

PBJ: How are you getting the word out about your show?
Aaron Calafato: I have a growing but very loyal listener base. They feel connected to the stories and they help tremendously by sharing and getting the word out with their networks. I primarily use Instagram to get the word out. Lastly, my partnership with Evergreen Podcasts has been really great. Together, every week we are growing more awareness about 7ms.

PBJ: Are you making money at podcasting?
Aaron Calafato: Yes and no. Every marketing and content management position I’ve had in the last 6 years is a result of podcasts I have created. Local companies or organizations have heard my podcasts and said “can we pay you do similar stuff for us?” So, I owe my living for the last several years to podcasting. However, I try not to look at podcasting as a direct means to make money. I try to frame it as content marketing that can indirectly be used to leverage revenue and build an authentic relationship with an audience. I do have aspirations to monetize my storytelling again. With 7 Minute Stories, I’m not worried about monetizing right now. I playing the long game. My primary interest is growing my audience base and eventually creating a listener funded model.

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