StartUp: A Podcast About Starting A Podcast


Courtesy of StartUp

The process of starting a podcast has never been as well documented, or as entertaining, as it is in Alex Blumberg’s StartUp podcast

The former producer of “This American Life” and co-founder of NPR’s “Planet Money,” Alex Blumberg, has started his own podcast. About what, you ask?

It’s about starting his own podcast.

The weekly show “StartUp” began last fall, but it’s ongoing and releases bi-weekly episodes, each of which is about 20-30 minutes long.

The basic premise of the show is the journey of starting a for-profit podcast or podcasting company. Blumberg takes you on an all-inclusive ride through the few ups and many downs of being an entrepreneur, especially in such a young industry. He uses real time audio footage from conversations he had with his wife, potential investors, business and himself — the latter mainly happening in the wee hours of the morning when this pretty crazy venture keeps him from sleeping. At one point, he talks to himself, psycho-analyzing the children’s book “The Giving Tree” at about 4:00 a.m.

From the get-go, Blumberg reels you in with a humorous yet heartbreaking narrative about his meeting with potential investor Chris Sacca.

Sacca is a billionaire angel investor who probably hears something close to 100 pitches a week — and probably denies 99 of them. Blumberg’s podcast company fell into that category in the first episode. He uses real footage of their conversation, but shapes it with rock solid narration. At the end of the pitch (and episode), Sacca gives Blumberg a tough love lesson on how to improve his pitch. Those lessons pay off in future episodes. Blumberg now runs Gimlet Media (a name that was created in his fifth episode) out of a Brooklyn office with co-founder Matt Lieber.

I expected some awesome story telling with a résumé like Blumberg’s, and I received just that. StartUp differs from most other podcasts I’ve listened to in the fact that it’s a narrative shaped by quality writing and even better dialogue. Many podcasts are simply stories being read or round table discussions on one or more topics.

Blumberg’s openness and transparency is clear in each story. He even uses that strategy when it comes to his advertisers, using real conversations about the deal making process instead of a boring, scripted, general radio spot.

This approach is unique, and vital to the success of both Blumberg and Startup. There are thousands of podcasts out there; he had to do something to make himself different – and he did. Blumberg has a family, and left a full time job to create something out of nothing. He expresses the risk involved, but he doesn’t generate a “poor Alex” reaction of sadness, but rather a “go Alex!” type of fandom.

I was hooked after the first episode. You don’t have to be interested in entrepreneurialism or media to enjoy StartUp. You just have to enjoy a good story told by a good storyteller.