Evo Terra's Podcast Hall of Fame Speech (For Good!)

One of the ways we make podcasting better is by holding the people who work in podcasting accountable for doing better. I'm using my induction into the Podcast Hall of Fame to shine more light on that.

Me, on stage, at the Podcast Hall of Fame ceremony
Image courtesy of Sheila Dee
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In case you missed the memo, I was inducted into the Podcast Hall of Fame last weekend. It is quite an honor to join the ranks of the other 30-some-odd podcasters who've already been inducted, a good portion of which are good friends of mine. Here's to longevity in this space!

Originally, I thought I'd just get on stage, thank a few people, and try to get at least one laugh out of the audience. But then I learned they gave each recipient 5–7 minutes of time on stage,  roughly the length of an episode of Podcast Pontifications.

So let's two-birds-one-stone this, shall we? You can watch the original video of the ceremony that was streamed live and is still hosted on Libsyn's YouTube channel if you like. For those who don't have ~2 hours, I've isolated out just my bit. Here it is in text form.

I think you'll dig it, and I'll see you next week!

I get asked to talk about podcasting rather frequently. During those conversations, two questions are almost always asked of me time and time again. What was different about podcasting when you had to rub two sticks together to make an RSS feed work? And what does the future hold for podcasting?

I don't have a pat answer for either of those things. My answers vary and really depend on the perspective of who's receiving the message.

From the perspective of the scrappy, staunchly independent podcaster, which tonight's fellow inductee and long-time friend of mine Dave Slusher embodies... not much has changed. Sure, there are a lot of new tools and services available to podcasters today that ease a lot of the burdens that Dave and I and everybody else who figured out how to podcast back in 2004 went through. But none of those modern tools or services are required to make a podcast.

For podcasters with that mindset, the foreseeable future looks a lot like the past. If they choose to, they can keep on keepin' on, either unaware of or uninterested in the massive upheaval sweeping through the podcasting industry. They podcast their way on their terms. I love that podcasting allows for that.

Switching to the perspective of podcast listeners; almost everything has changed. And most of it for the better, if we only judge that by how easy it is to listen to podcasts today, something that has only gotten easier. And while some podcasters may continue to insist that podcasting has a discoverability problem, podcast listeners are spoiled for choice and by all accounts don't seem to have any problem finding a podcast to listen to.

Both of those realities, an ever-expanding library of quality content coupled with better ways for listeners to find quality content that matters to them, will also continue unabated.

Another perspective I don't get a chance to talk about often is one that the bulk of the attendees of Podcast Movement Evolutions 2022 share. That is the perspective of those who work in the business of podcasting. I

When I started podcasting, there was no business of podcasting. Surprising absolutely no one, that changed rapidly as purveyors of picks and shovels always seem to spontaneously appear seconds after any new creative endeavor is launched. Look around this room or at the vendor booths in the hall outside. Today, the easiest and fastest way to make money in podcasting is to get a job in the business of podcasting. Most of the people at this conference—me included—are living that truth every day.

But the perspective I want to focus on with this talk before I get to my thank you's is the one of those who are not in podcasting. Not creators. Not listeners. Not service providers. I mean the people who are aware of podcasting but still aren't picking up what we're putting down. What does the podosphere and all the people who make up the myriad components look like from the outside looking in?

Every one of us was encouraged when Tom Webster from Edison Research showed us that, at least in the States, the diversity of podcast listeners is now nearly matching and in some cases exceeding the diversity of the overall country. That's an amazing feat we should all celebrate.

However, that's just listeners. We still have lots of work to do on the other two sectors of the podosphere. Two sectors everyone in this room has direct influence over—the creators themselves and those who work in the business of podcasting.

Sermons make me sleepy, so I don't preach this stuff. Instead, I try to lead by example. And it's for that very reason that I no longer apply to speak at podcast conferences. Simply because I tend to get chosen. And that could mean I'm forcing a well-meaning conference organizer to make the difficult decision of choosing between me or someone from an underrepresented group to be on the stage. Someone whose ideas, work, and opinions deserve to be heard by more people.

That doesn't mean I refuse to speak at conferences. No, I'll still speak if asked. But only after I do my homework. I do my own diligence to make sure that I'm not joining another party of old white dudes. And if (as is often the case) the headshots of other attendees aren't sufficiently diverse, I make them invite speakers from underrepresented groups. And if they refuse or are unable to comply with my request, I turn down the offer to speak.

I've much the same attitude when I interact with my peers in the podcasting industry, many of whom have been at this as long as I have been and are already in the old white dudes' party. They'll tell you; I don't shy away from calling them out on their bullshit or their bad behavior.

I've been accused of virtue signaling (usually by those on the barbed end of my calling out), but that's not why I do it. I call them out because I've been there, spewing similar bullshit or exhibiting similar bad behavior.

A friend of mine once said to me (at a podcast conference, oddly enough), "You get away with so much because you're Evo." At the time, I nodded in agreement and kept pushing that privilege. But that was the wrong approach. She was right, and it's up to me to do better for myself. And it's up to every one of us who've benefited from privileges to help our friends see the light and help the podcast industry to do better as well.

I'll step back and no longer make this lectern a pulpit and instead thank a few people who were instrumental in where I am today. This isn't an exhaustive list, as I'm already well over the time allotted to me!

I can honestly say that were it not for my lovely wife, Sheila Dee, my podcasting path would have started much later. I'd still be podcasting probably, but I wouldn't have started at the beginning. Back in 2002, she introduced me to her co-teacher's husband, a guy named Mike Mennenga. He asked me to co-host an internet radio show he had just started. Without going too far into it, we were basically those two D&D dorks in the basement Dave was talking about during his induction speech.  We made that radio show into a podcast on October 14th, 2004. Yes, I know the exact date.

Thank you, Sheila, for being not only incredibly supportive of my infatuation with podcasting, but also my investments into podcasting. She's also hosted her own show, taught podcasting to her students, and she keeps my shit in check when we podcast together. Thank you, Lover.

My family flew out for this night as well. Thanks to my Mom, Vickie, and my baby sister, Kala, for being here, even though I know you are both often puzzled by what it is that I do, but not at all surprised by my unconventional career path.

My son, NJ, is here as well. NJ turned 13 five days after I put that first podcast out. He's now 30, so it's been a minute. NJ has also done a little bit of podcasting on his own. Even worked in the business of podcasting - cause I was paying him to do shit I didn't want to do. Thank you, son.

I need to say a big thanks to Tee Morris who asked me to co-author Podcasting for Dummies with him back in 2005. Also I need to thank two more authors, Mark Jeffrey and Scott Sigler, who, along with Tee, all had the same idea at roughly the same time of releasing their books as serialized audiobooks, which led me to coin the term "podiobooks." And to Chris Miller who coded up the first Podiobooks.com website in a weekend when I said on my podcast that I wanted someone to build a better website than the one I cobbled together. He contacted me two days later and said, "I've done it." And we instantly became partners.

When Chris made the choice to pursue other interests, Tim White and Brant Steen took over with a brand new code set. I also have to thank Libsyn for generously offering to host the media files for this endeavor, with a specific shout-out and a big thank you to Rob Walsh who has kept those 700 titles still freely available today. Thanks, Rob. Seriously.

I also want to thank Gary Leland who convinced Jared Easley and Dan Franks to let me be a keynote speaker at Podcast Movement 2014, even though I know I panicked both of you terribly when I got up on stage and said podcasting wasn't that much of a disruptive movement at the time. Sorry, fellas. Thanks for not writing me off, though. I appreciate you!

A big thanks to Lance Anderson who I know pushed very hard to get me into the Podcast Hall of Fame. Thank you very much, Lance. You remain a friend after all these years.

I need to thank Greg Jorgensen for getting me back into podcasting after I had tried to quit for the third time. He asked me to help resurrect and co-host The Bangkok Podcast with him when I lived in Thailand for a few years.

And also a big thanks to Ric Gazarian and Susan Schwartz, my two very first podcast clients. And to every single client since that time who's trusted me to either develop their show, improve their show, or implement a solid strategy that incorporates podcasting into their business plan.

I want to thank Allie Press, my production assistant for nearly four years who keeps things running smoothly at Simpler Media.

I'm grateful to the companies and organizations who have invited me to sit on their advisory boards like Captivate, Maps.fm, Scribl, the BIPOC Podcast Creators community, and more.

I'm deeply appreciative of the multitude of people who I've collaborated with over the years, including Sam Walker, Bryan Barletta, James Cridland, and a few others I can't mention because, well, we're not quite ready to let those cats out of the bag just yet.

And finally, thanks to everybody in this room and everybody at Podcast Movement who make up such a rich, vibrant, and thriving podcasting community and industry. Thank you very much for coming along this journey with me.


Podcast Pontifications In Your Inbox is written by Evo Terra. He’s on a mission to make podcasting better. Allie Press proofed the copy. Podcast Pontifications is a production of Simpler Media.

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