Byron Cooke Q+A
We are thrilled to represent The Byron Cooke Show, an independent podcast created by the former co-host of Fox FM’s “Fifi, Fev and Byron.” Cooke, who has been making waves on his podcast, taking on deeper topics such as the entertainment industry’s toxic culture. Get to know him better below.
1. What prompted you to make the switch from radio to podcasts?
After 20 years of working on terrestrial radio as part of some pretty decent-sized mainstream shows, I really couldn't take it any further. There wasn't any scope for me to do more [or be more] in that environment. FM radio has its formula. It sets up it's "cast of characters" and there is a certain tone to it all. So it had become a creative dead end for me personally. The pandemic obviously has everyone questioning their situation. Personally and professionally it felt like a time to be having really important conversations. There is just so much to talk about and get actively involved in right now. Most of that is either too polarising or [traditionally speaking] "boring" to cover properly in the commercial radio format.
It didn't feel right for me to be there anymore. If you're just turning up for the pay cheque in a creative industry...I don't think you should be there. In my experience 4.30am alarms don't really sit well with trying to do anything much else properly. The only way to make a significant change in my career and make any sort of difference in the community was to leave radio and create my own independent podcast.
2. What are the main differences between working in radio and working in podcasts?
1 word - resources!
On the radio show, I'll be very honest - I had very little to do. The content choices weren't really mine at all. So during the in-show planning, I took a back seat. Every piece of preparation was laid out for you. There were one-sheets for everything. Your diary was managed. Things all just happened. The podcast version of the show just "magically went up". I'd be in at 5.30 and gone by 10am. It was all a bit of a pisstake.
On The Byron Cooke Show podcast, I'm doing almost every job. In the short term, that's what makes the project commercially viable for me. I'm the assistant producer, producer, executive producer, audio editor, marketing department, sales manager, sales rep, social media manager, publicist, legal counsel...oh and yeah - I'm the host!
3. What advice would you give someone planning to start their own podcast?
Don't make up reasons to put it off. Have a crack. At the same time, understand that many others are also having a crack. Don't expect to be the next Joe Rogan.
Just start experimenting and see what sticks. You'd be surprised just how little anyone cares about whether it succeeds or fails. Most people are too caught up in their own shit to even notice. You might also be surprised how few actually listen to it, so don't let download numbers dictate your feelings toward the content. Just enjoy it.
Podcasting has the potential to be a serious business, but just like radio - the best shows are the ones where the people in it are genuinely having a great time. Start it with a content area and people that you're really comfortable in and enjoy. Then just go with it. There is little or nothing to lose.
4. What has been your favourite episode to produce so far?
In collaboration with National Be Kind Day 2021, I sat down one-on-one with the patron of the organisation Bully Zero, Ali Halkic. 12 years ago, Ali lost his son Allem to youth suicide and he has worked tirelessly ever since to stop it happening to anyone else.
That episode opened up opportunities for Bully Zero to further their incredible work in the education sector. I brought in a range of contributors and ambassadors to take the conversation as far and wide as possible. I absolutely know that Ali and Bully Zero have saved young lives. I remain in touch with Ali to this day and consider him a friend. It was a really special episode.
5. What podcasts are you listening to at the moment?
I somehow missed Dr Death the first time around, but since watching the Stan series I'm now on to the Wondery original. The documentary style pods are so different to mine, and it's really inspiring to hear the way they are crafted. "The Sure Thing" was brilliant. Australia's biggest insider trading case is a pretty good place to start a podcast series as it turns out.
6. Aside from podcasting, what are some of your hobbies?
Love to stay active, love watching sports [virtually at the moment with my son in the US], lots of quality time in lockdown with my girlfriend Alex and I'm increasingly interested in Australian politics.
7. Have you heard any compelling podcast ads that you rated?
Companies like Ranieri and Co really have changed the game. I was on a walk not long ago in the Melbourne CBD and I'm listening to Business Wars, a pod that's very clearly based out of the U.S. Suddenly I'm hearing David Brown telling me all about the fresh produce up the road at Queen Victoria Market.
The ability we have as content creators now to reach specific audiences and drill right down to this level - from global to local. It's so exciting.
8. What excites you about the future of podcasting?
I continue to be inspired by the growth in podcasting. It's such a cool trend because it defies the notion that everyone has a "limited attention span" these days. We are creating these chunks of audio content that are upwards of an hour and the people we engage with absolutely love it.
I see podcasting as a channel through which an increasing number of important conversations will be heard. In the political space for example - we have a federal and two big state elections coming up. What an opportunity to dig deeper into the democratic process and get people more actively involved.
Thank you so much to Byron for his honest and entertaining words. You can check out Byron’s latest podcasts here : https://www.byroncookeshow.com/