John Goforth is the Vice President of Podcast Sales for the Central Region of iHeartMedia. On the side, John and Brent Hand were podcasting a show called Hysteria 51, about their passion: UFOs. They grew the show organically, which eventually lead to John’s two worlds colliding when his StuffMedia (which iHeartMedia now owns) picked up their show.
Here’s our interview with John Goforth.
How long have you been podcasting and when did you start?
Both my co-host (Brent Hand) and I have been podcasting for about three years now. We started recording trial episodes and whiteboarding things in early 2016, then officially launched Hysteria 51 and another show (the now defunct Rad or Fad) in September of that year.
Why are you podcasting?
It’s my creative outlet. I was an actor in college. I wrote a few (unpublished) books in my 20s. I need somewhere to flex those muscles. Not in a “the world needs my art” sort of way – it doesn’t. More in a “this helps me keep my sanity” sort of way. Podcasting was the natural evolution as it allowed for more of a freeform environment in a channel (audio) that I love. To me, theatre of the mind is one of the most powerful entertainment tools we all have access to.
How do you and your co-hosts know each other?
We grew up together in central Illinois. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on your perspective) we’ve known each other for 30 years. It leads to some brother type of squabbles, but it’s also probably the single-biggest strength of our show – our chemistry and familiarity with each other.
Why did you decide on UFOs?
It’s less that we decided on UFOs, but more that we decided there’s this “world of the weird,” I like to call it, that is interminably interesting — UFOs, aliens, conspiracy theories, mysteries, the unusual, and the unexplained. My co-host, Brent, was already fairly engrossed in these types of topics and I knew I’d love to learn more. It allows us to pursue topics from both a more skeptical and less skeptical perspective. We also went this route because we found there was a bit of a hole in the podcast offerings in the genre. Most (not all) of what existed was from the perspective of true believers — it was like this big echo chamber. We like to consider the possibility of things, but are skeptically optimistic about the reality of much of it. Also, it’s a lot easier to make jokes about a guy getting abducted by aliens than it is about a murder case.
How important is it for podcasters to have their own website?
Seems pretty important to me. That’s how your listeners and potential listeners are trained to find things. A website can be a repository of ALL of the information you want them to know — your Twitter, FB, merch store, Patreon, Reddit, MySpace, Friendster…you get my point. Also, it’s a GREAT way to add additional context to your shows if necessary.
How are you marketing/getting the word out now about your podcast?
We’ve done just about everything. Paid FB, paid Twitter, panels at conferences, promo swaps with other shows, etc etc etc. We found much of it was like beating your head against the wall. That said, when we are able to GUEST on other podcasts in the same general category, we always see a jump. Sometimes large. So, we continue to do that. Also, we recently joined HowStuffWorks/iHeartMedia — so now they’ll be taking over marketing duties.
How did you get the first one out when you began?
We were hosting with Buzzsprout at the time. We made sure all of the catchers had our RSS feed. Many of them just pull from Apple so that took care of a lot of it. Then we crossed our fingers and hit “publish.”
How many downloads/listens are you getting?
We’re getting about 120k downloads per month.
What are your biggest challenges? I think ours is much like almost everyone else’s — discovery. If you’ve created something that resonates with at least some people, you want to find more of those people. But with only about a quarter of the country listening to podcasts on monthly basis, it can be difficult. I also think a challenge we face is keeping our content fresh. It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing every episode the EXACT same way. Decide on a topic, replace info in certain parts of your outline: rinse and repeat. We challenge ourselves and each other to try to stay original and fresh while still keeping the same basic structure and cadence.
Are you making any money? If so, how? I mentioned before that we recently joined HowStuffWorks/iHeart. We make money from the advertising they sell. Additionally, we have a Patreon, merch store, and have done live events.
What advice do you have for other podcasters considering launching one of their own? Do it because you have something to say. Not because you think it would be a good way to make money — it isn’t. If you find an audience, the money can and will follow. Also, pick a corner. Meaning, don’t just take the approach of “my buddies and I are funny, let’s sit in front of a microphone and see what happens.” That doesn’t seem to work well. Talk about something you like, have researched, and have a take on.
MXL 990 Microphones
Behringer Ultragain Pro Mic2200 preamps
Behringer COMPOSER PRO-XL MDX2600 Gates
Behringer XENYX UFX1604 Mixer
H4n Pro for onsite audio recording
Apple earbuds for monitors (I don’t care what they say – I can’t give them up)