How To Launch a Podcast Network

Just what does it take to launch a podcast network? What about doing it in three months?

Actor, comedian and podcaster Paul Scheer spills the beans along with comedian and podcast developer Matt Gourley and host Adam Sachs on episode 66 of The Wolf Den. All three were at ground zero for the creation, curation, development and launch of Wolfpop, the new pop culture network from Earwolf and Midroll Media, which hit the internet on Tuesday.

Paul explains that the process of assembling the line-up of hosts and shows was a series of, “shots in the dark.” You think, “I like this person. This is an interesting idea. But will it be good?”

He elaborates that, “You bring someone in to record a podcast, so if it sucks it’s awkward. That was scary.” But in the end everyone worked out; they didn’t turn down anyone who was approached to do a show.

Adam notes that the format of the proposed show was less important than the host. “You can develop a format,” Matt concurs, “[but] you can’t develop a personality that engages you.”

When it’s time to begin developing the show, Matt says, “I have found out that my process almost always begins with meeting the person at the Tam O’Shanter restaurant.” Rather than coming with an already-formed idea, he asks, “what most excites you?” That’s because “if it’s coming from them it’s going to feel organic and natural, and they’re really going to like it.”

The potential host usually has a few good ideas, which Matt brings back to the team. Then he follows up with the host a little later. “By then usually one has gelled,” and it’s often the same one that the Wolfpop team liked, too.

The next step is to see, “is there any way to structure this that will make it flow well?” For instance, “Are there segments we want to do?” Some hosts prefer more a rigid format while others like it looser.

Paul compares the Wolfpop development process to the “smartest networks I worked for when I did TV stuff,” where management says, “we like you, we trust you, go make something.” For the new hosts, “we were just kind of bumpers,” making helpful suggestions, but not giving directions.

Ultimately, Matt says, “the great thing is we pride ourselves on picking people we like so we don’t have to worry. After the first show it’s theirs.”

As Paul explains, for the hosts the advantage of creating a show with Wolfpop is, “you’re not going to be in a sea of podcasts, you’re going to be supported… We launched on the shoulders of Earwolf, the next will be on the shoulders of Wolfpop and Earwolf.”

Listen to the whole episode to learn how Leonard Maltin came on board, the story behind Paul’s and Matt’s Wolfpop shows, and some of the rejected names for the network.

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