As a kid growing up in Malaysia, “talk radio” equated with “morning zoo kind of stuff” for Nick Quah, creator of the Servant of Pod podcast.
He came to the U.S. for college and was introduced to public radio. Curious, he sought out on-demand episodes to learn more, finding iTunes’ podcast section.
As an auditory learner, Quah appreciates the less restrictive, more open and fluid give-and-take of conversations and how they feel less contrived than written material or TV shows, including news. “Audio, for lack of a better word, is hyper-real to me. It feels more like reality than television or text,” he says.
Hot Pod started as a hobby but became a “full-time engagement.” Feeling underutilized in one of his first jobs, right around the same time the first season of Serial was released, Quah wanted to dig deeper into what wasn’t being discussed about podcasts at the time: “How does the business side work? That’s when I started writing the newsletter, just to start writing about it and get thoughts down. I treated it like a blog. These are the things that are interesting to me, this is what I’m thinking about listening to it, this is what I’m listening to. I developed enough of an audience where, after a year and a half or two years, it was enough to jump off and build a business about it.”
He’s now expanded to a new podcast, Servant of Pod, which he produces with LAist Studios. “I didn’t start a podcast to become rich. I wanted to really understand what the process was like and I wanted to make something interesting. I’m just an incredibly restless, bored person who needs to constantly do something.”
Quah found a team to work with in order to help produce the podcast and help navigate the ins-and-outs of what it’s like to actually make a podcast, after years of observing from the outside.
“I’m trying to create a document of, here are several really interesting people, really interesting shows, interesting executives that tell something about the history of podcasting,” he says. “It’s helped me open up the way I think about journalism and performance. It’s a theoretical experiment as much as it is a creative experiment.”
Nick Quah, founder of the Hot Pod newsletter and now host of the Servant of Pod podcast, joins It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell to discuss his introduction to the medium and why he decided to pick up a mic.