How To Build a Niche-Focused Podcast Network With Glenn Hebert

John Corcoran 10:50

Right now I imagine you have a certain standard for the quality of the shows that you want to bring in whether it’s starting from scratch or bringing in an outside show, how have you managed to make sure that the quality is up to the level that you want it to be?

Glenn Hebert 11:05

Well, in the early days, the quality wasn’t at the level we wanted it to be. It was pretty much crap all along the way. We all figured it out. But now yeah, now it’s easier. Now I make sure they all have the mics I want them to have, you know, they have to have a half decent internet, which again, you know, you don’t nobody in your world thinks about that. We have to think about that. So they have to have has half decent internet and the way the way I audition future hosts I learned this early on is I have mine as a guest first without telling them I’m interested in them. And in you know, in a couple of minutes as a guest you you know whether they’re gonna be a good host or not. Yeah, you’ve been around doing this long enough. John, I can tell in two minutes there. Yep, they’re gonna be a good host. I’m not going to be the host by how good a guest they are. Yeah. And that’s proof. pretty true. I mean, my host have been around for a long time for some of these shows. 1112 years, they’ve been on it. So you know, six 810 12 years, and they just tend to stick with it and do it weekly, or, you know, twice a month for that length of time.

John Corcoran 12:08

And does it take some convincing to, you know, when you spin it around and say, Hey, I’d like you to host this show, and I’m gonna pay you to do it.

Glenn Hebert 12:15

Yeah, it does. Because it’s commitment. And you know, as you know, even if you’re doing twice a month, it’s still a commitment. You’re sure, yeah. When I speak at conferences, I tell I say at the conference, it takes 10 to 12 hours, for every hour you’re on the air and pre and post production will take you 10 to 12 hours includes marketing and booking gas, every little thing you do around that episode is 10 to 12 hours. And when I talked about that at pod fest, you know, you mentioned pod fest earlier. You know, when I talked about that 10 years ago at pod fest, everybody laughed, because they were like, Oh, I can do my show in an hour. Well, they weren’t doing marketing, they weren’t doing any of the things to make it a business. But when you then when you make it a business, as you know, it does take 10 to 12 hours for every hour, you’re on the air because you’re doing all the things it takes to grow that business. And you have to include everything, your businessman, now you have to include the time it takes to sell the time it takes to produce the time it takes to write the scripts or whatever you’re doing, and to produce the advertising and to do deal with the advertisers. All of that adds up. And you were talking earlier about tough times we had our tough my tough time was about four years. And when I was just going full time, and had it had given up or had ended my last consulting agreement. And I went full time and it was lean, it was really lean we brought on in an investor. That’s the only money we ever borrowed or had put into the business was back about four years in. And she was a friend of ours. And she said I think this podcasting thing is gonna be a thing and ended up being a host with me for 10 years. But she put money in and it was based on luck. You know, there was no interest payments or anything, it was equity, and you’ll get paid out when we sell the company eventually. And that’s the only thing that kept us going in that fourth year when it was lean and podcasting. You know, advertisers didn’t know what podcasting was back then either now, or worse world. Yeah, we had a few that believed in us from the beginning by first advertiser came on when we had six months in when we had 12 listeners, she came on because she believed in me. And, and you know what, it’s still that way today. Sales has always been somebody buys something from you because they believe in you. Yeah, they they like the product that you’re selling, but they believe in you. And that’s still true today. Then, you know, an advertiser if you’re a one man operation and advertisers not buying from you unless they believe in you. And that’s I’ve been selling for 40 years. That’s always been true no matter what product you’re selling. Yeah. So you know, we’ve had those that have believed in us along the way and are still that first one is still our biggest sponsor today on real estate shows. Yeah, really still with us 14 years later. Wow, that’s

John Corcoran 14:52

awesome. That’s really cool. You started the network in 2008. Of course. 2008 is notable for another reason. There’s a big economic downturn that happened around

Glenn Hebert 15:03

Great timing.

John Corcoran 15:05

Well, it’s interesting companies that started downturns, right? They say that, you know, Facebook and LinkedIn and a lot of these big tech companies actually started during downturns. Did it affect things you think looking back on it now?

Glenn Hebert 15:19

Now because we didn’t really we weren’t going for advertisers at that point. Anyway, I was part-time it was a you know, it was a play to a, I had hoped I was playing the long game. I had hoped that eventually when podcasting became a thing, which I really attribute to cereal, the cereal podcast is when podcasting became a thing when people started understand there were

John Corcoran 15:39

a year that was maybe 2017 20. Summer that was kind of like the first big breakout podcast hit where people started telling their friends. Oh, are you checking this thing out? And, you know, I haven’t seen any numbers on it. But I would not be surprised to see that.

Glenn Hebert 15:55

You know, it’s probably 250 million by now on that one.

John Corcoran 15:59

Yeah. But what I meant was, I haven’t seen like, what kind of blip it produced in terms of like people first being introduced to podcasting as a medium because of that show.

Glenn Hebert 16:10

I don’t know the numbers, but I know in my world, it made a difference. After that came out, then what happened was people went, Oh, I listen, they found their podcast player on their phone, first of all, yeah. And then they went to find cereal, and they listened to cereal. And then they went, I wonder if there’s a horse show out there, they would type in horse, and then we’d pop up. So that’s how a lot of people found us. And when that started to turn for us, but I always knew I wanted to be number one in the horse world in podcasting, when the turn came in when it became a thing. And so I was playing a long game. Yeah, there were some lean years in there. And fortunately, we had some money in the bank, and you could live off of that. But but it was it. That’s in fact, what did happen. Then when podcasting became a thing, and then when COVID came around, everybody in the world started a podcast, including every horse person, every horse trainer out there had time. Now started podcasts, you know, happened in a lot of industries. Yeah. And as you know, 99% of them are gone already. Because they found out it is actually work. Yeah. And we’re still here. And we were number one, when that happened. And, you know, we probably had 20 shows, then, you know, 1000s of downloads every month, and we were established, we were the ones in the horse world. Yeah. And that’s, that’s what why we got attention from the other media outlets in the horse world. And why we ended up selling last year is because we were number one.

John Corcoran 17:33

Now, it’s a lot of work to create a broader network, when you have one show, I’ve seen this happen a lot of times where you know, someone has a breakout hit, and then they decide they’re going to create a network kind of related to it. And sometimes it’s a lot of it’s a big challenge to get those other shows, and they never kind of quite reached the level of the original show. This might be a hard question to answer. But looking back on it now. Was, do you think that was a tough decision? I think that was the right decision, you know, or do you think that maybe, you know, had things been different? If you just like, put all your energy into the one show? Do you think you would have been better off again, I don’t know if you can answer that. But

Glenn Hebert 18:15

no, I can answer that. No, I wouldn’t have been better off actually. And the reason was, every show we started, we started strategically with a media partner, or an association partner. So I’ll give you an example. We started to show one of the disciplines in the horse world dressage. And early on that was one of the early shows we started, I contacted the Dressage Federation of the United States, and we made an arrangement with them. And eventually that show became the official podcast of the United States Dressage Federation.

John Corcoran 18:43

Oh, interesting. So not right away initially not right it wasn’t and then we

Glenn Hebert 18:47

were working with them right away they would invite guests for us and or information or updates, but eventually became the show for the CIO their advertising and now Federation wide. And so that’s what I did with every show we did we made sure we had a media partner of some sort, a magazine, popular website, something that would help us in marketing it and then in exchange, they would come on the show and do something for us or with us and that’s how we established the whole network. And because of that, we taught other horse people how to listen who then were looking for other horse shows and we were pretty much the only one so they would come to our other shows. So that’s how we grew the listenership.

John Corcoran 19:28

Got it. Got it. Yeah. Smart. That you said COVID didn’t really affect you. But was there a moment? Yeah, I talked to so many other Oh, yeah. So in March 2020, where they

Glenn Hebert 19:41

thought every advertiser was going to leave, right. Done well, you’re like all this effort. Gone to nothing? Yep, exactly that way. We had none leaf, actually. And we had some join us because they were looking for ways to get the word out and they then podcast thing blew up, of course, you know, in a way COVID helped podcasting not in a way it did help podcast and it certainly did.

John Corcoran 20:06

Yeah. Well, it’s funny though, it’s interesting because the the growth and all the different trajectory, all the different metrics, from downloads to how many episodes people listened to, to how long they listened different episodes.

Glenn Hebert 20:18

If you look back now and toward the end of 2023, and you look back over the last 20 years, COVID is a blip. But it some people think or assume that it was a massive blip. It wasn’t really it was just part of the larger trajectory, a little bit accelerated, but not as much as some people think. I think what accelerated it the most was the number of shows because you know, yeah, if you look at that, it was a large number, because everybody had time. Yes. So they all started a podcast. And, you know, that’s where and but every one of those shows whether they made it or whether they went away. Every one of those shows taught new people how to listen to podcasts. Yep, who would then go search for the thing they were interested in, and then you’d pop up and ride pop up, and now they’re listening to our shows. So every show that starts helps us? Yeah, because it teaches one or two new people how to listen to podcasts. Yeah, and we’re still playing that game. Because you know, they they talk about the podcast numbers in different niches like in our world, I bet you not 50% of horse people listen to a podcast. I bet you it’s not 50%. So I see that as room for growth. Right. We have a lot of room for growth in the horse world of podcasting. Yeah, we’re not done yet.

John Corcoran 21:32

Yeah, yeah, that’s that’s nice, right? I mean, if you’re tapped out, then it would be like, Well, why am I still doing this? Right.

Glenn Hebert 21:38

And then the niches, this topic is about niches in the niches. That’s especially true. I have a friend who is in the fruits and vegetables, he was in the fruits and vegetables selling business. Four years ago, we talked to him, I said, you’re in a niche, you need to own this niche. You need to become a guy in fruits and vegetables. He is now the guy in fruits and vegetables, because of his podcast. He’s the authority, they pay him to come speak at conferences. He speaks to everybody who’s anybody in fruits and vegetables. And he’s a b2b show, you know. So it’s a smaller audience, but it’s the right audience in the right place. And I think that’s where we still have a lot of growth potential. And I still still think we have a lot of growth potential. I don’t think local market has been local markets have been done well, in podcasting. I think that’s we’re gonna see a lot of growth in local markets and podcasting, too. And that’s cities, podcasts, state podcasts, that focus on on very local markets that radio used to do that they’re not doing anymore, because there’s no local shows anymore.

John Corcoran 22:40

Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s so true. I talked to a guy in Orange County, California, which is I didn’t know this, but the fifth largest county in the United States, and has no local radio stations, all the radio stations are outside, they’re in LA County, which, you know, for Orange County residents, you know, that’s different. That’s not the same. Right. So, yeah, it’s interesting.

Glenn Hebert 23:03

I think there’s a market for daily shows there. But it’s somebody who’s going to have to be funded and doing it full time. Yeah, because it’s hard. Yeah. Yeah.

John Corcoran 23:11

And it might, you know, we might get to the point where it’s just complete peripheral proliferation. You know, it’s nice, now it’s in it’s an all of our phones, they’re being built into cars. You know, they’re just becoming more and more accessible. Not quite at the level of radio yet, you know, but it will get there, hopefully, hopefully,

Glenn Hebert 23:29

I waited 14 years. So that’s a little bit. So.

John Corcoran 23:31

I want to ask you about, you’d have the same host, co-host for your show for 1314 years now.

Glenn Hebert 23:37

Yeah. Jamie secret.

John Corcoran 23:39

What’s the secret to that working out so

Glenn Hebert 23:41

well? We’re both trained. I mean, she was trained in radio improv radio and I was trained in improv stage right acting. And I, you know, I tell everybody out there, whether you’re if you’re in business of any kind, especially if you’re in sales are your podcasting, whatever take improvisational classes at your local theater. Improv is I credit everything my success in sales, my success in this and podcasting to improv training. We were lucky early, early on when we started the the company I had, this is very early on. We did a training session with a guy out of New York, who just started on Broadway then it was was, and it was Wayne Brady, before he was modular. And he did a training for you. Yeah, he came on a weekend into training with it because he was nobody then it was just a guy, you know. And one of the best of all time in improv. Yeah, by far. So we had good training. And yeah, I credit that Jamie and I are both good at that. And we’re, she’s we’re both good storytellers. And if you’re gonna do a morning drive radio show, which is really what ours is for the horse world this morning drive radio, and it’s about us. You know, this is true on any podcast. They come for the content they come for, because they search tours. They only stay if they liked the hosts and that’s true of any podcast. You think about podcasts you’ve tried. You’re not hanging around if you don’t like the host, for whatever reason. Yeah, yeah, whatever the reason is, you don’t like them. You’re not hanging around. I don’t care how good the content is. So it’s especially true in a personality driven show like ours, where it really is about us and our lives. And, yeah, we have guests, and we have segments and all of that. But it’s mostly about us. Now, fortunately, Jamie leads a rather colorful life in the worst world. She’s that girl a lot of times. So the stories are excellent. And I think that’s what mate has made it work is we’re, we’re trained to do this. And we and the other thing is we really do like each other. You know that, you know, we like each other. You know, we never talk off the air. We don’t have phone conversations in between shows. The show for the show, that’s Yeah,

John Corcoran 25:53

it’s interesting. I also want to ask you about, you know, on your website, right, now you have a cruise that you’re doing. So you’ve done cruises before? Yeah, this is our fifth or sixth. Wow. Yeah. And I’m interested in in media companies that are innovative and involve, you know, different strategies in order to grow like an online network, like your podcast. And oftentimes, they do that through different tools. Like it could be a YouTube channel, and it could be a physical magazine, it could be live in person events, or conferences, or cruises or whatever. So talk a little bit about the impact that those other efforts have had.

Glenn Hebert 26:30

Well, we’re in the horse world. So you know, this horse shows everywhere. And that’s been been a way for us over the years as we attend the biggest horse shows and we’ll record episodes there and people see the mics and see us recording, we always do it in a very public place. So you know, we’ve gotten a lot of exposure through horse shows that that’s been a help. Also, we we’ve tried to think outside the box and doing interesting things that other media in our world isn’t doing. We do a live holiday event every year. This year, it’s six hours live, where we’ll bring different hosts on we’re doing video and audio this year, different hosts on it, we have giveaway over $5,000 in prizes that day, that are donated by our sponsors. Of course, everybody wants to win prizes at Christmas, right? So and but we get our listeners involved in that they actually sing songs and write songs about us and our sponsors and themselves and their horses and submit them. Last Last radio THON we had over 200 submissions. We couldn’t even play them all. And they were talking beautiful singers, you know, it’s like a GT for for the horse world, poems and just all kinds of things like that. So we do these things. And everything we do we think about how do we get the listener involved in that. And we did. We did a roadshow. We’ve done two road shows now where we take our RV, my wife and I, excuse me go out and we take our RV. And we got to listen or farms. And last one was 14 states over six weeks. And we stayed at listener farms and did meetups all over the country. And they organize the meetups, and we did Horse Show, we were at horse shows and events are just dinners at their farm and riding their horses. It’s so much fun. I mean, it’s just someone what

John Corcoran 28:13

does that like when you do a meet up and someone comes up to you, and they’ve been listening to you for years and

Glenn Hebert 28:18

pulling in their driveway, and we’re gonna stay at their farm in our RV for a couple days, you know, there. Yeah, so many of them are like, I can’t believe you’re here because they listened to 1000s of episodes. Yeah. And then we get to meet their horses, which is the most important thing to them, you know, and we get to meet their horses and see how they live. And for us, it’s great, we really get an understanding of who our listeners are that way

John Corcoran 28:39

where their challenges are, what they want to hear about that kind of thing.

Glenn Hebert 28:43

When it’s one thing when you meet them at a restaurant, you do a meet up, right or at a horse show. It’s another thing when you’re at their home, or when you’re at their farm. That’s a whole different thing. So that was that’s been a true eye opening experience. And just so much fun. I mean, it’s just, it’s just a trip. Yeah, literally and figuratively. And then, you know, we also do things like the cruise where that’s just for fun. There’s no educational component to it. I can’t write it off. It’s just listeners get to get horse people get together, we usually have about 50 We get together, we hang out together on the cruise, we talk about horses, we eat dinner together, we have fun together. It’s just for fun. And I think a lot of times as business people, we’re always trying to see the ROI and the monetization and everything. Well, I have made lifelong friends, from people to bet on the cruises. You know, we’re all friends, and they’re all friends with each other to this day that they never knew each other before. And that accounts for a lot in our world and then business. So you know, I think I haven’t looked at everything as ROI that I’ve done over the years. And some of the things that aren’t ROI driven, have been where I’ve made the most lasting relationship

John Corcoran 30:00

That’s great. Well, there’s a great I want to wrap things up with the last question I always enjoy asking was just my gratitude question. I’m a big fan of expressing gratitude, publicly thanking people who’ve helped you along the way, especially peers or contemporaries, however you wanted to find that, who do you want to shout out? I

Glenn Hebert 30:17

think I do more than one, of course, okay, I have to give my wife thanks, obviously, cuz she put up with my crap all these years. And all my crazy ideas, and she’s actually worked for the company full time for 14 years as well. So and, you know, the unsung hero behind the scenes has been her. So she’s done done the most. But also, you know, I have to give credit to my hosts. You know, they a lot of them started early on when this wasn’t a thing, and it was hard, you know, and they put in a ton of hours, you know, so, you know, God bless them. We lost one recently, unexpectedly, and it made us all realize that we’ve been friends forever. And ever, all the friends, we have our listeners or other hosts or people involved in the network in some way. So and then the listeners, we’re friends with so many of them, especially our Patreon contributors, you know, we’re we hang out in the Facebook room together, and they become a family. And that family is who we visit and, you know, and spend a lot of time with, I have learned more from people I work with in the network, than than anybody I’ve ever worked with. Yes, I have other podcasting friends and Dave Jackson is my mentor. And, you know, Chris Krimitsos has allowed me to be a part of a community. But boy, the host in the listeners who are who we’ve learned the most from and had the most last during relationship, so we have a meet up once a month here in Ocala, of horse people, any horse person that listens to our shows can come to the once a month meet up. And then we get together once a month, and whoever shows up shows up, and we just have a good time having dinner together. So that’s a long answer. I know. But, but it’s true. Great answer.

John Corcoran 32:01

Yeah. Glenn, this would be great. Where can people go to connect with you and learn more about you and the other shows on the Horse Radio Network,

Glenn Hebert 32:09 And if you want to listen to my crazy morning show that’s been around for a long time. You can listen to Horses in the Morning on your favorite podcast player.

John Corcoran 32:19

Glenn, thanks so much.

Outro 32:23

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