Finding inspiration in podcasting

Making the transition from college student to full-time employee proved challenging for Nick Bachan, who, like many college graduates, opted to move back in with his parents in Georgetown for several months while job hunting.

Nick jokes that that time was basically “a mixture of depression and snacking. . . . Serious answer, though: I was job-hunting, thinking about going back to school, and constantly writing things that had no real home.”

For Nick, the biggest difficulty was reconciling his aspirations to become a sitcom writer with “grown-up” necessities like paying for gas and electricity. He needed a mentor in the entertainment field to show him how to break into the industry.

Around that time, he began listening to the Nerdist and You Made It Weird podcasts, finding that each episode brought the inspiration, insight, and guidance that he craved.

“Sometimes the next best thing to meeting someone in person is listening to them on a podcast,” says Nick, who estimates that at least 95 percent of podcasts are offered online for free.

Though podcasts cover many topics, including politics, science, and language-learning audio recordings, Nick was most drawn to comedy and entertainment podcasts. “I was listening to people I really admired tell their stories and hoping it would rub off on me,” he recalls.

Nick remembers listening, in one particularly inspiring episode, to television host and comedian Conan O’Brien trace his career from writing for Harvard University’s undergraduate publication The Harvard Lampoon to his present-day successes.

“If Conan were on a show like 60 Minutes, it wouldn’t just be him talking for an hour and a half and going into so much detail, so that really attracted me to the podcasting format,” says Nick.

After nearly a year and a half of devotedly listening to his favorite podcasts, Nick teamed up with James West, a fellow comedy writer he’d befriended in college, to cohost their own podcast, Thoroughly Unimpressive.

For less than fifty dollars, the duo bought a microphone and a unique web domain name and installed a free audio editor and recording program. The next step was attracting guests to their show. “Basically we just asked friends to come on and had fun with it,” says Nick.

At the time, the setup consisted of one microphone shared by the two hosts and their featured guest.

“Anybody who’s done any kind of sound design would have walked in and said, ‘No. This is horrible,’” says Nick. To achieve professional-grade sound quality, “you really need to have a mike on each person with pop filters in front of them. Everyone needs to have headphones to hear how they sound, and everything should be fed through a mixing board, which then goes into a computer to be edited.”

Nick interviews friend Sarina Wong.

Working on Thoroughly Unimpressive was “definitely a learning experience,” says Nick, who now owns a complete recording system and has branched off to start his own weekly podcasting series, Nick vs. the Podcast. He hopes the show provides a fun, informative environment in which he can connect with like-minded guests and listeners.

“I’m not in it to make money. It’s more for the potential of reaching people who are interested in the things that interest me,” says Nick, who now has a job in Austin. Many of his guests are local comedians and entertainers.

Aside from “What makes you laugh?”—the initial question he asks each guest—the rest of the conversation is generally organic and free-flowing. It’s a free show, says Nick, so “the only thing I’m ‘selling’ is that I’m interesting enough and good enough to create something worthwhile.”


Hear Nick vs. the Podcast at soundcloud.com/nick-bachan.

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