Jon Dwoskin Interviews Dave Phillips, Co-Founder of Podcast Detroit

In 2013, Bob Waltenspiel and David Phillips of IT in the D launched their own podcast without any prior listening, producing, or broadcasting experience out of a small Internet radio station in downtown Detroit, Michigan.

Over the course of two years and 100 episodes, The IT in the D Show has grown from 4 listeners a week (our wives) to close to 400,000 weekly listeners and more than 25M total listens.

Teaming up with Neil Nosakowski of Trinet Corporation and Activ8 Gaming fame, the trio built out the Detroit Sound Studios in Ferndale, Michigan. Knowing that just having one two-hour show per week didn’t make sense, the Podcast Detroit Network was born. Not even a year and 50+ shows added onto the network later, the Podcast Detroit studio moved to its new and current location in Royal Oak to allow for expansion to multiple studios, allowing simultaneous shows to be running and more.

Today Podcast Detroit thrives on delivering entertaining programming, producing new podcasts, syndicating existing shows, and becoming an outlet for corporations to reach their target markets delivering easily consumable content.

Visit PodcastDetroit.com for more information.

*E – explicit language may be used in this podcast.
Read the transcript

Jon Dwoskin:
Hey, everybody. I’m Jon Dwoskin, executive advisor and business coach. I work with successful people who are stuck and want to take their company to the next level. Today, though, get ready to grow your business big, very big. In just a few seconds you’ll meet a dynamic business owner, executive or salesperson willing to share the best practices that fuel their growth and success. Each interview is no more than 15-ish minutes long so you can quickly learn effective tools to put into your business today. Please listen with new ears and let’s get to learning, let’s get to growing, and let’s get to thinking big.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Hey, everybody. Welcome back and thank you for taking time to listen to the Think Big Movement podcast. I appreciate it, I am really excited for this next guest because I wouldn’t be able to do this podcast if it wasn’t for Dave Phillips with Podcast Detroit. Dave is the co-founder of Podcast Detroit where, basically, I’m in a room that’s completely padded and just set up with sound and technicians and Jessica, the sound technician person, so I can do what I love and do this hassle-free. It’s unbelievable. First and foremost, Dave, thank you for being here but thank you for creating this so I can take a dream and create a reality.

 

Dave Phillips:
Well, I mean, you’re more than welcome. That’s actually kind of the point of us having this here.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Fill in the gaps. Tell us a little bit about you, your backstory, how this came about because I know that you are doing, I think, it’s 800 plus shows a week? Or, maybe-

 

Dave Phillips:
Oh, no, no, no. We’re a little over 90 shows a week.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
90 shows a week. Okay.

 

Dave Phillips:
Yeah, that would be insane. It all started with our networking group, IT in the D, which is a networking group for IT folks here in metro Detroit that we’ve been running since 2001. People always said, “Hey, you guys, Bob and Dave, you’re hilarious. You ought to have a show of some kind.” Then, a friend of a friend built out a studio in the Industrial Center downtown in early 2013. I went on shows there in February and March talking about us, who we are, what we do. They called me up in April, and said, “Hey, one of our co-hosts called in sick. You’ve always been fun. You want to hang out?” Sure. Did that for the night. In May of 2013 they called up and said, “Hey, our Monday night show from 9 to 11 is bailing. Do you want two hours of airtime every week?” Yes, we do. So we launched our show there in June of 2013.

Kind of went along, did our thing. We kind of outgrew the place. It is what it is. We built our first studio right around the corner here, a couple of miles down on Hilton Road. About eight and a half mile, Hilton Road. It was gonna be us. Our own little private man-cave. Our show, our thing. We launched there in May of 2015 and it took three weeks before people started knocking on the doors and were like, guys-

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Let me in.

 

Dave Phillips:
Guys-

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Let me in.

 

Dave Phillips:
… you’ve got this great studio, you use it for two hours a week, stop being jerks, we want to do a podcast. July of 2015 we launched Podcast Detroit, the network, out of that one studio and then by January of 2016 we were full and didn’t have any more time slots left to give people out of that one studio. So we went shopping and found this place with four perfect studio sized rooms, moved in here May of 2016. Literally, exactly a year later, to the day. Away we went. We’ve been growing ever since.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. What did you do before that?

 

Dave Phillips:
This is still a side-gig.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Yeah, so what else are you doing?

 

Dave Phillips:
I’m an IT consultant. I’ve done everything from … these days it’s more like the VP level engagements, high end systems, architecture, that kind of stuff. This is almost to the point where it can no longer be a side hobby, but it’s not quite there yet. It’s been a blast watching this grow, we’ve basically tried to take all the lessons learned that we had when we were at that network. It wasn’t really suited for us, we were the only business show on the network. We were kind of the odd bird in a number of different reasons. So we’ve tried to build something here that is clean, simple, easy, professional. Yet, we still like to have fun. We’ve got a full bar out there. We’ve got a kegerator out there. We keep snacks and that kind of stuff. As we like to say, it’s show fuel.

We do try to keep it professional, but we also have really great relationships with the shows that run out of here and we want to help them grow and succeed. We’ve decided that like IT in the D itself, it’s almost like a little incubator and wanting to basically take the platform that we’ve managed to build for whatever reason and help people find their voice and get the voice out there.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
My next question was gonna be, you may have already answered it, but what’s the most fulfilling part of doing all of this? You started off kind of doing it for yourself and now all these people are depending on you. I know I am, because it’s a huge value add to me. Yet, you still respond to my emails within minutes, you are on top of everything-

 

Dave Phillips:
I just don’t sleep.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Either way. You got here early so I can do what I need to do. What would you say is the most fulfilling and then how do you encourage other people or how can other people be encouraged by you? By doing something else that they’re passionate about? On top of what they’re already doing.

 

Dave Phillips:
Watching people walk out of the studios with the same look on their faces that I have every time … That’s it. Our show is two hours long, we still do our show Monday nights 9 to 11. Even when we built our own studio, we kept that same time slot. When we moved here, we kept our … it was just habit and creature of habit. It’s still the fastest two hours of my life, every week. It’s exhilarating and it’s a rush and watching people get that same bug and get that same … At it’s core, if you’re doing a podcast, it should be about something that you’re passionate about. I remember at Detroit Start-Up Week a couple of weeks ago, I was on a panel. One of the people in the front row asked the question, hey, I’m thinking about starting up a podcast, how do I monetize it? I looked him dead in the eye and said, “If that’s really why you’re starting a podcast, don’t.”

You’d have thought I slapped him across the face the way he looked. I’m like, man you’ve got to understand the running joke is one out of every two Americans has listened to a podcast and that’s because one out of every two Americans has a podcast. If you’re going into this thinking you’re gonna make your fortune, you’re doing it wrong. Do it because you love to do it. Do it because you’re passionate about something and you want to share your knowledge and you want to. That’s the thing. I don’t care what you want to talk about, man, there’s a podcast that’s been running for years that literally does nothing but talk about the bad adults’ movie, Horrible Grown-ups, or dissects the inner nuances of The Princess Bride.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
For sure.

 

Dave Phillips:
Pick a topic, there’s somebody out there that is just as much of a freak about something as you are. They’re gonna want to listen and you’ll get callers. That is, that’s the really cool part.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. It amazes me when you talk about one out of every two people, it still amazes me. I’ll be talking to people and they’ll say, “Yeah, I’ve never listened to a podcast.”

 

Dave Phillips:
It blows my mind at this point. Although, I-

 

Jon Dwoskin:
And they say it as … I don’t mean to interrupt you … but they say it as if I just landed here from Mars and I mentioned the word podcast. They’re like, what are you even talking about?

 

Dave Phillips:
What is this podcast thing you speak of?

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. They have an iPhone, but don’t even have the app on their phone.

 

Dave Phillips:
No, it’s true that’s the thing, the industry, it’s really weird. The world is changing, I think we did this at the right time, where we really are living in an on-demand world now. People want what they want, when they want, how they want it. I always tell people the days of must-see TV died with Friends. That’s just reality.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
It did.

 

Dave Phillips:
I’ve had a TiVo since 2002. I now have four of them. I can tell you what my favorite shows are, I can’t tell you when they’re on. I just know they’re there when I go to get them, or they’re available on demand, or they’re available on Hulu, wherever else. Podcasts are no different. You look at terrestrial radio, they finally clued in, too. Where they’re pushing you towards iHeartRadio, wherever they’re putting the podcast versions of their shows, because, hey, I love your morning show, but don’t tell me that I have to wake up at 6:00 in the morning to listen to it when I work second shift.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Correct.

 

Dave Phillips:
You put the podcast version out there, then maybe I’ll listen to it. That’s kind of a cool thing and just as far as the market and the media and that. It’s still very much growing and maturing. Just the advertising models and all that kind of stuff. Metrics. It’s kind of a wild ride and that’s one of the reasons why it’s so much fun. I think that’s the biggest thing. We tell every show that comes in here, or every person that comes in here, about starting a show. I say, look, what’s the best format? Is it 20 minutes, is it two hours? Is it this … I’m like, it’s whatever works for you and your show. There are no rules with this stuff. Anybody who tells you that there are, they’re trying to sell you a book.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
That is true. That is true. This I do want to ask you, when somebody calls … I just recently wrote a book and now I have a sales podcast I do with my buddy and this is a podcast to complement my book … People always say to me, “How do you go write a book,” or, “You have a podcast. How do I do a podcast?” When people say to you, what’s the first step I take to get a podcast? What do you tell them?

 

Dave Phillips:
Figure out what you’re passionate about and then don’t be afraid to experiment. This Monday will be, well, I don’t know when this is gonna air, but this Monday as of when we’re recording it, is gonna be episode 207 of our show. I still can’t listen to our first 10 episodes, because we didn’t know what we were doing. We’d never listened to one before we started one and so we didn’t know. Bob, my business partner. He’s the sales … his cards say the sales guy. I’m the geek. Was it gonna be the sales guy versus the geek. He was a DJ for years. Is it gonna be him using his big, booming, strip club DJ voice all night. That’s okay, we usually tell people it’s gonna take you a few episodes to find your groove and figure out what works for you. More importantly, what works for your audience. Don’t be afraid to change.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. You can never wait for perfect. You gotta just do it and make mistakes and part of the idea of it, I think, is that you do make mistakes and you’re not perfect.

 

Dave Phillips:
No, absolutely.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I mean, there’s very little editing that is gonna be done with these because people want to be able to connect with something authentic and real.

 

Dave Phillips:
We have that same school of thought. I was in, again, the conversations with the new shows coming in. I always tell them there’s two schools of thought when it comes to editing. There’s us, where it’s very raw, it’s very unpolished. We do some light editing, make sure all of the volumes are normalized in the room and everybody, all the mics, are at the same level. Make sure all that’s good, but that’s about it. We leave the um’s and the ah’s and all that other stuff in because we want that natural vibe. Our whole shtick is I don’t care if you find this at one of our networking events, sitting ringside at wrestling, randomly in a bar, or you come in studio with us. You’re gonna get the same versions of us. It’s always us.

Then, like, we know our friend Jordan, who does a really high-end podcast out in LA, and they spend eight hours a day editing a half hour show. That’s … more power to you, man … that’s great, if you’ve got that kind of time, commitment, love, and energy for it. For my two cents, I’d rather it be the raw version.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. Give me some good information, got some fun intro music and get-

 

Dave Phillips:
And away you go.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
… and be real. Right. I can’t thank you enough for what you do, because-

Dave Phillips:
I think it’s great.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
… it’s amazing what you do. What would you say in our last minute or so together. It would be maybe the best piece of advice that you’re favorite podcast, your favorite … but what’s one thing that you can share with people who are listening.

 

Dave Phillips:
Everybody always asks how we’ve grown like we have, and how have we done both with IT in the D and Podcast Detroit and everything else, the answer is we let ourselves get pulled, we don’t push. When it came to doing our bigger events, we waited until enough people said, “Hey, this is really a thing, you should do this.” All right, we’ll give it a shot and see what happens. Same thing with the podcast. We went to our own studio with no intention of launching a network and that’s why I always cringe with the, okay, so what’s next question, because we didn’t know we were gonna launch a podcast. We didn’t know we were gonna go to our own studio. We didn’t know we were gonna launch a network. We didn’t know we were gonna need four studios. We didn’t know … We’re opening a new studio in Corktown this week. We’re gonna have another new location.

We didn’t know we were gonna need that, so I don’t know. The best thing is just be okay with change and don’t be afraid to fail and fail fast. All the shows, again, shows coming to us for advice and the first thing I always say is, look, we’re not ninjas, we’re not gurus, we’re not experts. We’re none of those things. It’s literally, we have just screwed up every way you can possibly screw up-

 

Jon Dwoskin:
That’s great.

 

Dave Phillips:
… but we only do it once. It’s the same thing I’ve always told my tech leads over the years: you get one free. That’s your learning experience. You make the same mistake twice, then it’s a mistake. That’s okay. You roll with it, and you learn and you just don’t do that again.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Right. Fail forward.

 

Dave Phillips:
Exactly.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I love it. Dave, tell people how to get ahold of you and where to find you.

 

Dave Phillips:
All of our stuff is at PodcastDetroit.com. You can find our networking group and the IT side of things over at itinthed.com. Then, I’m Dave@ both. Dave@itinthed.com and Dave@podcastdetroit feel free to drop us a note, check us out, and see what we have going on.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
Thanks for doing, again, what you do. I know I’ve thanked you about a thousand times.

 

Dave Phillips:
Nah, I think it’s great, man.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
… but-

 

Dave Phillips:
Honestly, it’s that enthusiasm and that reaction, that’s the coolest part of this to me.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
I appreciate that. Really, it is great, and it’s great to meet you. You make the experience even more fun because you kind of infuse even more excitement for me having started it all, so thank you very much.

 

Dave Phillips:
Awesome.

 

Jon Dwoskin:
All right. Have an amazing-

 

Thank you for listening to the Think Big Movement podcast. For show notes and links to anything we talked about, please visit JonDwoskin.com. For additional best business practices, you may enjoy my latest book, The Think Big Movement, Grow Your Business Big, Very Big. Lastly, if you want to talk to me about advising and coaching your business, please email me jon@jondwoskin.com, text or call me at 248-535-7796. Have an amazing day, an amazing week, and as always, Think Big.

 

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