Why Local with Ryan Sullivan of The BopCast Podcast


How connected locally are you?

We often hear of a podcast with a National or International focus, but today’s guest Ryan Sullivan shares with us how he focused on local and how telling the stories of local artists has been a unique project for him.

As a podcast, we record audio, share it, and move on typically. Still, one special episode he recorded became a living legacy of the personality of a guest who passed away after being on the podcast.  

It’s not just about the audio; it’s about legacy, and this will be a story you won’t want to miss.

Key Topics:
  • Where did the idea for BopCast get started (1:06)
  • How did you decide what the audience demographic focus was going to be (04:20)
  • How do you find your guests within a unique demographic like this (6:12)
  • How did you decide you want to start a podcast (8:14)
  • What advice would you share with others looking to start or grow a cause-focused podcast (9:23)
  • Creating a content experience around all the media channels (11:25)
  • What makes The College Prep Project the charity of choice for this episode (12:54)
  • Best piece of advice for other podcasters (14:46)
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Thanks for Listening!

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And if you would like to be a guest on Causepods, please fill out this form and schedule your chat here.

00:00:02.350 – Speaker 1
Hi and welcome to CausePods, I’m your host, Mathew Passy. Here at CausePods, we have one simple mission to highlight the amazing folks who are using podcast as a way to raise awareness for good causes and make the world a better place, whether it’s in their own local community or their taking on global issues. Please visit us at CausePods.org where you can learn about our guests, show their favorite charitable cause. Join our Facebook group of resources for CausePods podcasters and find a link where you yourself could be a guest here on CausePods.

00:00:33.970 – Speaker 1
Again, that’s all at CausePods.org. All right, we are staying in state here today for CausePods, talking to Ryan Sullivan up in northwest New Jersey, Hunterdon County with his show Bob Cast. Ryan, thank you so much for joining us here on CausePods today.

00:00:53.470 – Speaker 3
Thanks, man. Yeah, I appreciate it. This is once I saw the idea, I was like, I love it, man. Connecting the cause to a podcast to things that I love. So thanks for having me here. I really appreciate it.

00:01:03.280 – Speaker 1
My pleasure. So tell me a little bit about explain exactly what your cause is that you are trying to accomplish here on podcast.

00:01:10.630 – Speaker 3
Yes. So it’s definitely not a it’s not like there’s one nonprofit or something that we’re supporting that’s not really like one direct cause or company or nonprofit in that way. Really kind of like the show evolved to help people. And like, it’s not really how I started it. I think I kind of just started it. I just wanted to podcast because I was such a big fan of podcasts. And it turned out that even in New Jersey specifically, but especially in a county where I’m from, I’m a I’ve lived here my entire life and I lived in South Jersey for a couple of years.

00:01:40.600 – Speaker 3
And now I’m back here where I’m from. There’s nothing like this, like it’s like basically mostly blue collar and there’s really just not a lot of opportunity, I guess, to kind of get yourself out there and put yourself on a platform or tell other people what you’re doing other than your own personal brand. So I love interviewing people. It’s something that I’ve loved to do since the third episode is when it was our first interview. Since then, I’ve just continued to interview people from the state, people out of state as well, like on Zune.

00:02:08.020 – Speaker 3
But it’s primarily I’m going to say like seventy five percent, 80 percent people that are here that drive to my house, that do the podcast in person we had. It’s something unfortunate that happened a couple of years ago. And so one of my guests name is Brian Conklin. And so he was somebody I went to college with really like prolific dude who was a DJ and just like kind of like a lot of friends, he impacted a lot of people.

00:02:30.400 – Speaker 3
And I got a text one day from another guest that I had actually my first guest ever, and he let me know that Bryan had passed away. And so he was we were scheduled to actually do another interview that summer. Right. And so him being like the person that he was, there was so many people that he had impacted, really the podcast. I never thought of a podcast as legacy. Like I never looked at a podcast as like part of your legacy.

00:02:56.920 – Speaker 3
I just looked at it as a podcast or recorded conversation, like I was more focused on the benefits of the moment of a podcast and like that hour of going back and forth rather than what happens later five, 10, 15, 20 years, even when you’re passed away. So from what that happened with that, with Bryan, I kind of just just put things in perspective for me. And when his family reached out to me and said, thank you so much for recording this.

00:03:21.670 – Speaker 3
So now we have his voice and his mannerisms that we can go and listen to for an hour. And I’m not saying the podcast was great. It definitely was not my best. Some professional podcast or nothing close to even what I do now with that same podcast. But that really put it in perspective to me of like I’m doing this and like I’m never going to stop because, like, that’s all the motivation that I need was to have, like, a family have that hour long conversation.

00:03:47.080 – Speaker 3
So like I said, it’s not really one specific cause, but that specific instance did kind of, you know, put things in perspective for me.

00:03:56.170 – Speaker 2
So it’s kind of like a CausePods in the sense that we don’t have one, cause that we follow we we elevate other people’s causes, other people’s shows and ideas. And you’re doing the same thing. But with a more targeted audience of 16 to 24 year olds who are looking to improve their lives or improve the lives of those around them, why this target market? Really like what? How old were you when you started, I guess? And why were you looking to skew so young or why did you want to keep the focus on this particular audience?

00:04:28.510 – Speaker 3
Yeah, so this audience kind of just I didn’t really choose the audience. I am a rapper and a producer. I’ve been releasing music for like four or five years now. And so I developed a fan base when I started developing a fan base when I was in high school, kind of by accident, a couple of friends of mine released a song, everybody listen to it. And so my sister was young, couple of years younger than me. She’s a couple of years younger than me.

00:04:48.070 – Speaker 3
And so her friends started listening to it, too. And so I was kind of it was me and another friend of mine who’s a singer and songwriter. But for me, like, I really I created music that touched on where we lived. So people younger than me started to follow me and kind of like, you know, younger and older. But like people in my age range, age range and in her age range started to follow me and kind of like enjoy the music.

00:05:10.900 – Speaker 3
And I think especially because I spoke about some of the things about where we live. So that audience kind of just came to me. And then from there, the podcast as well, kind of turned into this thing where it was a passion project for me. But now I Anglet, where when I interview a guest, I try to always apply those things to if you’re just coming out of high school, if you’re just coming out of college, just because that’s where I’m at.

00:05:36.760 – Speaker 3
I mean, I just graduated college in December, so. Between where I’m at and between where my audience is, that that’s just when I look at my demographics, those those are the people that follow me. So I figure you might as well kind of take that angle. And then luckily, I’ve also been able to showcase, which will probably get into things like the college prep project and other people’s projects that are also at that age range, who also have followings of people who are, say, in high school, coming out of high school, going into college, post college, that kind of range.

00:06:05.610 – Speaker 2
So you started by saying, you know, this, people that you talk to, they don’t really have a platform, it’s tough for them to get their word out there. Where are they coming from? I like how are you finding the people that you talk to for the Bobcats to highlight people who are doing extraordinary things in the area?

00:06:22.290 – Speaker 3
Yes. So there’s a few different places. So as I mentioned, I’m an artist, so I perform live with a group of artists from North Jersey and some from South Jersey, too. They just end up driving a couple hours because there’s not. I’ll just go off very quickly about New Jersey. There’s really not it’s kind of like the mentality is not a community oriented mentality, at least when it comes to artists in a way. And so I got lucky and found a group of artists who all performed together and support each other.

00:06:46.230 – Speaker 3
So I just latched on to that, made it a point to talk to and connect with all those artists and then start getting them on my podcast one by one. So that’s where I find the music artists. And then there’s also just people in my area who I’ve connected with. Like if I’m on a Facebook page and I see somebody painted a picture of Frenchtown, you know, like just like a nice, beautiful picture, I’ll send them a message and say, hey, would you like to come on the podcast?

00:07:09.220 – Speaker 3
So it’s definitely from all angles. And then finally, like, if I have an artist on, they are there’s managers and small record labels who see this artist on my podcast. Now they want to get their artist on my podcast. And so that it’s kind of like a little bit from everywhere. Typically I’m not I’d say probably half the time I’m going out and getting people and then the other half is people finding me through these different various ways.

00:07:34.650 – Speaker 2
What’s the average age of the guests? I mean, you said the artist community. I mean, artists tend to skew younger, but not always. So I’m just curious where where these people range in terms of age.

00:07:46.560 – Speaker 3
Yeah, I think probably I’d say the if you were to average it, the oldest person I’ve had on is probably like maybe like late thirties, early forties. And then the youngest I’ve had on is probably like 18 or 19. But I’d say yeah, mostly mid 20s is probably your your the average for the show. Honestly, good question. I’d like to actually do the numbers on that.

00:08:09.060 – Speaker 2
And you said you were just a fan of podcasts when you got started or what made you want to jump into podcasting in the first place.

00:08:18.630 – Speaker 3
Yeah, Joe Rogan, man. I mean, that’s the I had been watching him for like four years before I started my podcast. I was watching him when he was like, you know, having these weird guests on and the cameras weren’t even is nice. And I just remember watching his podcast and then a friend of mine, I had talked about the idea that’s like what happens when you become podcast. Our first you talk about the idea for a long time and then you don’t really know if you’re going to ever start it or not.

00:08:44.280 – Speaker 3
Kind of happens with everything. So it took me about a year of talking about it had a couple I had literally two people just say, hey, I bought listen to it. So I go, all right, that’s enough for me. And then I recorded my first episode, recorded another episode. Then on the third episode, I had a guest and we’ve had a guest all the way up till we’re about episode sixty one right now. So but that’s really how just kind of a couple of people told me that.

00:09:06.210 – Speaker 3
Listen to it.

00:09:07.530 – Speaker 2
And what would you say have been some of your biggest lessons, not about producing the pockets where your music producer, you kind of have an understanding of how to use a mic and things like that. But as far as creating a podcast, creating an audience, growing your audience would have been the best things you’ve learned about working in this space that you could share with other potential CausePods out there.

00:09:31.110 – Speaker 3
This is something that I’ve that I’ve that I’m harping on lately, so I’ll just touch on it. A podcast isn’t just the long form audio. People do not understand this. A podcast is long form audio or short form. Say maybe this morning might be 10 to 20 minutes long. That’s different than mine. My podcast is an hour and 40 minutes sometimes. So there’s I have an hour and 40 minute version of my podcast audio. I also have a YouTube version that’s video.

00:09:56.220 – Speaker 3
I also have Instagram reels and Tick-Tock clips that are 15 seconds. I also have one minute videos that I post on Facebook. And then I also have a description of an episode that somebody might see in an Instagram post or an Instagram story. And then now that my website’s bill, I also have small post on the website that has a description of each episode. So you might have a guy that says, a friend of mine that listens to the podcast every Monday on his way to work.

00:10:22.680 – Speaker 3
And then you also might have the friend of mine who who watches three of the podcast clips. They’ve never listened to a full episode before. People, for some reason, don’t count these other people as fans, these people who who just consume the content and not the long form. So what I would say is you’re limiting yourself if you think your fans are only people that listen to the long form audio for like an hour or whatever it is. There are also fans who consume your content, your podcasts and other ways, and it’s your job to create content for them.

00:10:53.310 – Speaker 3
So that’s something that I found is and those people are still might buy a shirt, they might buy merch, they might watch a full episode of one person that they really like and not other ones. That’s fun. I think people just kind of limit it to. All right, let me look at my audio downloads. It’s like people refer to it as the dark funnel. It’s like something that you can’t really track. So I think kind of creating content in all different ways for your podcast is super important.

00:11:17.790 – Speaker 3
It’s something that I’ve learned.

00:11:19.140 – Speaker 2
So for you, it’s the podcast is not just the content that comes out of the RSS feed, but it’s the whole experience and everything that you’re creating as a result of this this journey and the guest. Yes. And think about the guest like the guest. I have a whole experience. Like I said, people are coming here in person. They’re allowed to do whatever they want to do before the podcast. They’re allowed to bring who they want to bring.

00:11:40.950 – Speaker 2
If they want to bring their mom or their best friend, another girlfriend, they’re allowed to bring them. They’re allowed to watch. There’s things that I do here, too, with guests that only guests get to do and people don’t know what that is. So only other guests know that. Right. So it’s also, like you said, I love how you brought up the experience. It’s a whole different experience for the guest, too, because they walk away telling people like Sally did this or like, man, I didn’t expect him to do that or like, you know, all these different things.

00:12:07.020 – Speaker 2
So, yeah, creating a different creating an experience for all the listeners and then also for the guests, too.

00:12:12.300 – Speaker 2
Are you allowed to say, give us an example of what you mean by there are things that you do in the studio that not every guest gets to see or the audience doesn’t get to see?

00:12:21.780 – Speaker 3
Yeah, so there’s something that a guest every guest gets to take home with them. But so what happens is we take a picture of that thing. You can go to my Instagram and probably find it. You might have to dig a little bit on my bobcat’s Instagram. What will happen is the audience goes to the video version. They try to find it and they can’t because it’s not on the recorded podcast. So I’ll just say there is something that every guest gets to take home with them that people that the audience really doesn’t know and you wouldn’t know unless you’re a guest.

00:12:48.120 – Speaker 3
So that’s one of those guest exclusive things.

00:12:50.190 – Speaker 2
Now, as you mentioned earlier, as part of your appearance here on CausePods, we are promoting the college prep project. You can learn more about them at the college prep project, dawg. They’ll, of course, be a link to them here on the show. But tell us about the college prep project, what they do and why this is an important cause for you.

00:13:07.300 – Speaker 3
Sure. Yeah. So good friend of mine actually started my first business with him when we were in high school. We were doing parties and we were terrible to an extent. But we basically started the small business together and we we learned a lot together. Our first time in business, he ended up writing a couple of books as well. He’s still in college. He’s about to apply to be a medical student. And he created this nonprofit called the College Prep Project.

00:13:29.970 – Speaker 3
And what the college prep project does is it offers scholarships to high school kids who wouldn’t normally have them. So like in terms of myself, like I was telling you off air, I think I would have saved like ten or twenty thousand dollars if I was motivated to actually apply for scholarships. And that’s kind of on me to write. But I just don’t want people to make the same mistake that I did and not apply for these scholarships. Like I didn’t even know I was a first generation college student.

00:13:53.940 – Speaker 3
Like, imagine that even that you telling me that probably would have saved me so much. So the college prep project, what they do is they have a one to one approach. So for every middle income or high income student, high school student that receives a scholarship or gets. They also help a lower income student, and I just think that’s super powerful and it started and run all by college students and they’ve had a little bit of news coverage as well, and it’s starting to grow.

00:14:17.310 – Speaker 3
So just something that I wish I had and and a great cause by somebody who I’ve I’ve known for for a long time.

00:14:25.230 – Speaker 2
So once again, folks, it is the BOP cast. You can learn more about it at PSol Suli Pop Dotcom Slash podcast. We’ll put a link to that in the show notes. And again, it’s the college prep project dot org. Once again, links to both of those here in the show notes. Ryan, before we let you go, any last piece of advice for someone who’s thinking about a podcast and, you know, wants to support their cause, something else that they should think about so that they can be successful or at least have fun doing it?

00:14:52.040 – Speaker 3
Make sure it’s fun. Like if you if it’s not fun for you, in my opinion, it’s not worth it. Listen, is all the editing fun know that’s there’s going to be parts of it that are fun, but make sure your interviews fall and make sure you’re having a good time. Make sure you set it up so you get the most out of yourself and the most out of people. And on top of that, I’ll also say not to plug myself or to plug Matt here, but know somebody get connected with somebody who really understands podcast so you can bounce ideas off of them, even pay for the consulting, whatever it is.

00:15:20.220 – Speaker 3
It’s just I just feel like that’s going to save you so much time and so much of those kind of little failures up front, if especially if you are strapped for time, if you have a startup, if you have something that’s just getting off the ground, you know, there’s a million resources online. But just to have a person to go to to say, hey, what do you think about this idea? Or, you know what? What is your advice on this on this angle of promotion or something?

00:15:40.560 – Speaker 3
You know, those are the two pieces of advice I get. Definitely have fun and also try to find somebody who, you know, can really help you bounce ideas off of your podcast. It’ll save you a lot of time. I know. I mean, I wish I had that to write. Another one of those things that Matt and I probably went through trying to learn the podcast game. So that’s what I’ll say. And Matt, thank you so much.

00:15:58.620 – Speaker 3
Man, I really appreciate you doing this.

00:16:00.180 – Speaker 2
Great advice. Ryan Sullivan of the Bobcats. Learn more at Suli BOP BOP. Just follow him on Instagram. Suli up and check out the college prep project. Doug Bryan, thanks so much for joining us here today.

00:16:12.270 – Speaker 3
Thanks, Matt. This has been great. Matt, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

00:16:15.750 – Speaker 1
Thanks for listening to this episode of CausePods. If you’ve been inspired by the work of our guest, please check out the show notes of this episode in your podcasting app or at CausePods.org. There you will find links to their show, their website, their podcast, links on Apple, Google, Spotify, as well as a link to support the charity that they highlighted here. In this episode, you will also find a CausePods.org Barletta subscribe to this show on your favorite podcasting app, How to sign up to be a guest on this show and a link to our Facebook group, which is going to have special resources just for the folks who are podcasting for a good cause.

00:16:52.320 – Speaker 1
And I can tell you right now, we’ve got one great deal from our friends, a pod page. But you’re only going to learn about it and get that special deal if you are a member of the Facebook group for CausePods. And before I go, I should say thank you in particular. The show is edited and produced by Ben Killoy of the Military Veteran Dad podcast and what a great job he has done. And all this is made possible because of the great support that I received from Shannon Rojas here at the podcast.

00:17:16.350 – Speaker 1
Consulted Dotcom once again. If you want to learn more, go to CausePods.org. Thank you so much. And we will see you next time on CausePods.

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