The Wedding Biz is arguably the leading podcast in our wedding industry. At well over 250 episodes, the podcast boasts guests like David Beahm, Jose Villa, Carrie Goldberg, and pretty much any leader in our industry you can think of. At a little over 3 years old, The Wedding Biz has risen quickly to set the standard in the wedding podcast world.
What you may be surprised to know is Andy Kushner’s journey into the wedding world through music. In the early 90s, Kushner began Sound Connection, a band now known as one of the premier party bands in the industry. The 10-piece entertainment group is now one of the many pieces that make up Kushner Entertainment. Kushner’s position as the band creator, leader, and trumpet player, comes after honing his oration talent through years of MC-ing for Sound Connection.
“I developed a presence on stage talking to audience, and then I started to give talks at various conferences like Event Solutions and Nace. And that’s probably where I started to develop confidence with my voice both literally and with how I express myself.”Andy Kushner
While dedicating hours to sharpening talents in speaking is a key for anyone looking to take their own crack at podcasting, Kushner credits having confidence within himself as the key to the initial success. Landing a big-name guest may seem like a big hurdle. But the best bit of advice is to just go for it. Kushner shared that a direct message on Instagram is a great, non-aggressive way of reaching out, as it allows the recipient to think about how to respond (or to not respond at all if they prefer): “I personally don’t really have any fear about that sort of thing. I’m not hesitant to try. That’s the first step…set aside any anxiety surrounding that and just go for it.”
One important thing to remember is that people like to talk about themselves (we are often our own favorite topic). So not only is it important to realize, as an industry, we are filled with type-A personalities, but it’s also important to remember publicity is always a good thing. So even at the start, you are bringing value. If Instagram isn’t your preferred method or if you are targeting higher-profile guests, then Kushner recommends reaching out directly to your future guests either through a call or e-mail. He also reminds us, we cannot downplay the strength of direct referrals. Remember to be humble and polite. “It’s all in how you present yourself. It’s all in the presentation,” Kushner said.
But remember, this is always going to build. Your first podcast is not going to be your best effort or even with the most noteworthy guest. Kushner began with friends who were local to the D.C area where he lives and notes he thought he did a poor job at the start. “I felt like I lost control of the interview while I was doing it — got nervous in the middle of it. When I listened back I didn’t like it all and I thought I’m just not going to do this anymore.”
Kushner quickly realized that if he was able to identify his perceived shortcomings, that also meant he could improve upon them. By the very next interview, Kushner’s confidence had grown, and he was ready to begin reaching out to luxury planners and industry members he had known through Sound Connection, such as Colin Cowie and Marcy Blum.
The first big guest Kushner reached out to was Sylvia Weinstock, with whom he had recently worked with on a large event. The success of his interview with Winestock allowed him to grow in confidence and continue to reach out to industry icons. The spark that lit the fire, though, is one that many of us are familiar with — Engage. Kushner’s good friend Sean Low recommended he reach out to Rebecca Grinnals and Kathryn Arce, the creators and producers of the famed luxury wedding summit. Unsure of what he would even speak with them about, Kushner jumped off the cliff and has been rewarded for doing so.
“It went really well, so well that they invited me to the next Engage Summit where they would introduce me to the speakers, and that is how the whole thing really exploded is during that time.”Andy Kushner
If you’re ready to start your own podcast, you can learn from Kushner’s trials and tribulations. In the beginning, Kushner felt like there were times when interviews got away from him a bit. Kushner tries to steer his interviews with a direction in mind, but he also aims to create a dialog during his podcast episodes. So, what do you do when the interviewee takes over a bit and is leading the conversation? The style that the Wedding Biz aims for is potentially conversational: Kushner’s tip is to simply interrupt. Politely interrupting can be uncomfortable, but in order to stay in control, doing so may be needed. While you can edit audio in a podcast, most are essentially recorded live shows, so letting the interviewee ramble too much can end up hijacking the content of the entire interview.
“The interviewer needs to stay in control to direct the flow of the conversation and the direction of it. I’ll just say, ‘Hey, if you don’t mind, I’d like to interject,’ and even if I want to completely change the direction of the interview, I feel like that is okay,” Kushner shared.
Another tip Kushner encourages all podcasters to do is to study your craft. Kushner has always been enamored with artisans of expression. Even at a young age, Kushner found inspiration in the presence of Martin Luther King, Jr., and marveled at the ability of performers like Richard Pryor to express themselves. Kushner credits Howard Stern as possibly the best interviewer in the modern media world. If you’ve listened to The Wedding Biz, you’ll notice certain techniques such as the way Kushner summarizes talking points throughout the conversation. Many of these techniques come from Howard Stern, who by his own admission has become a skilled interviewer after decades of interviewing.
Ready to start your first podcast?
Kushner shared his current gear list with us so you have a good starting point for where to begin:
- Portable Recorder: Zoom H6
- Microphones: Four Sennheiser E835
- Online Recording: Squadcast
- Computer to download your SD card
- Optional: ProPodcast Solutions Editing Service
If you want to record locally instead of through an online service, Kushner recommends Garage Band paired with a USB microphone like the ATR2100.
For your guests, it is nice if they have a microphone to use, but even Apple earbuds can work really well. You may want to ask guests to be in a quiet room. Carpeted rooms with a lot of furnishings can help deaden sounds. Kushner doesn’t go into too much detail with prospective guests, but does ask they record in a quiet room in their home when working remotely.
Kushner has also launched his second podcast, The Music Makers, which is a highly recommended listen for anyone in or interested in the music industry. Be on the lookout for some pretty incredible episodes with Lisa Vorce and Diane Khoury. You can support The Wedding Biz on Patreon as well.