Scott Johnson had no qualifications to pursue podcasting, except one. “I always kind of had a big mouth,” he admitted. “But I never had any type of background in this, except for calling into a lot of sports talk radio shows.”
Nonetheless, Johnson is hosting and producing “The Mack Talks,” a weekly podcast that launched last November. “I wanted to start a podcast to generate conversation about entrepreneurs, community leaders and people that run nonprofits. It is valuable to hear these stories — it’s almost like entrepreneurial therapy, to a certain extent, to generate content to help other entrepreneurs.”
While business-oriented podcasting is not uncommon, Johnson’s involvement is somewhat different: he is the owner of Mack Media Group, a Brookfield-based digital marketing agency. The podcast is produced out of his office. And while a couple of Johnson’s clients have turned up as guests on “The Mack Talks,” the podcast attracts guests from outside the agency.
“The more we grow it out, the more it becomes a media entity,” Johnson explained. “We want to cover more and different kinds of things. We want it to be business-centric, but bring in other things that involve pop culture, music and sports in the overall theme of business.”
“The Mack Talks” has attracted an eclectic line-up of guests: Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton, UFC athlete Glover Teixeira, newspaper publisher Emanuela Palmares and basement waterproofing entrepreneur Larry Janesky have found their way into Johnson’s office-turned-studio, where “The Mack Talks” is recorded for presentation over podcast networks including SoundCloud and iTunes and videotaped for broadcast on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.
Perhaps the most serendipitous guest for Johnson was Jack Maxwell, host of the Travel Channel series “Booze Traveler.” An encounter with Maxwell at a Boston trade show sparked a spur-of-the-moment invitation for Maxwell to record an unscheduled episode.
“He came to our Airbnb,” Johnson recalled. “He’s just an awesome guy, and the episode came out fantastic.”
Johnson recalled the time needed from committing to podcast production to releasing the first episode occurred within a three-week span, with an investment of roughly $1,500 in equipment and Famous Pizza owner Perry Anastasakis lassoed as the first guest. Episode production schedules vary, with one week accommodating a single episode and another packed with three or four separate segments. Johnson admitted that production would be “a million times easier” if “The Mack Talks” was strictly an audio podcast, noting that the video element requires additional concerns for recording and editing.
Rather than work solo on the interviews, Johnson tapped Chase Hutchison as his co-host. Hutchison, who graduated from Loyola University in 2017, came to Mack Media Group as an intern and now holds the title of senior vice president of business development.
“We work together on a regular basis, and I feel it is a good dynamic,” said Johnson. “He is kind of like my young grasshopper who is coming up through the company.”
While “The Mack Talks” continues to find an audience — the podcast’s Instagram page has more than 14,000 followers — Johnson acknowledged that the endeavor has yet to be monetized.
“There’s no real revenue to this yet,” he said. “It does cost money and it is not like servicing a client that pays.”
He has been able to leverage the podcast to ratchet up the Mack Media Group’s credibility with current and potential clients.
“When we speak to people on the agency side, a lot of the times if we have good rapport with them, we’ll just put the link in and say, ‘Hey, check out our podcast,’ ” Johnson said. “And the reaction is, ‘Hey, these guys are really legit.’ It adds a little of a personal feel to it so they get to know us.”