Hello, my name is Nick Castner, host and co-creator of The Commonwealth, which is a podcast that features entrepreneurs, athletes, and artists to uncover their approach to leading disruptive change. During my sophomore year at the University of Nebraska, I was scheduled to major in Finance. On my first Intro to Finance test, I received a 43%.
After hitting in the library for days leading up to the exam, I was shocked when I missed more than half the questions. I had the classic college freakout and decided I needed to change my major. About the same time, CBS ran a national story that highlighted entrepreneurship in the Silicon Prairie. I thought it looked sexy, so I changed my major to entrepreneurship.
That story is now almost four years old. Since first watching it, I’ve helped start an accelerator for blue collar entrepreneurs, helped organize Brian Ardiner’s second I/O Summit, and worked at one of the startups featured in that CBS story – Bulu Box.
While at Bulu, I met Alec McChesney, who at that time was the assistant sports and digital editor for the Lincoln Journal Star. Over a pitcher of beer at Duffy’s Tavern, we discussed creating a podcast to share stories of innovation. I’d host the show and manage the guests while Alec would produce the show and manage the distribution.
The plan for this passion project worked fantastic, for a handful of days. After building up some episodes, Alec soon left the newspaper and took a job as a marketing strategist at Firespring. Bulu went through a restructuring and laid me off. Four days later, the Journal Star told me they were not interested in expanding their podcast selection.
Having two jobs and losing both of them in the same week is like getting a 43% on a Finance test. As I was thinking about what I should do next, I realized that what CBS showed me, I could potentially show others. That there’s value in telling stories of interesting people building remarkable things. Knowing I had the skills, interest and passion to capture these stories, I decided to set out as a full-time, independent journalist.
We’ve now released interviews the last eight Monday’s. We’ve been able to feature guests such Jeff Raikes, the former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, David Graff and John Wirtz, two of the founders of Hudl, and the founders of Bulu Box.
Our assumption is that journalism will continue to move to multimedia and events. The multimedia product we’re focusing on is the podcast. Our first event is November 14th at the Foundry. Happy hour starts at 4 pm. At 5 pm, Senator Anna Wishart is hosting a 20 minute long question and answer portion, followed by an interview with Ali Schwanke, founder and CEO of SimpleStrat. During this hour long event, you can show up and hold your public official accountable and hear from your local business leader. If you miss the event, we’ll capture the audio and video to stream it online. However, the event ends at the same time as happy hour, which is another reason to show up.
We have a distribution partnerships with Silicon Prairie News and KZUM Radio to support the podcast. After the first week, we received 900 listens. While that was a good start, our average needs to be about four times higher than that best week to make this project sustainable.
The one thing that I keep on reminding myself is that podcasts grow similar to websites. When a website goes live, it doesn’t get thousands of hits immediately. It takes months of tweaking the content and driving new visitors to increase traffic. Unlike a website, it’s impossible to make edits to what’s already been uploaded. So if an advertiser wants to sponsor only my Jeff Raikes and Hudl episode, I’m unable to take their money.
Charlie Rose was an anchor of CBS This Morning when they reported their story on innovation in America’s heartland. As they panned away from Lincoln, they switched to the studio camera in New York. Some of the first words spoken were out of Charlie Rose’s mouth, saying, “that’s a great American story, the urge to create and innovate.” It’s stories with that exact description, ones of people pushing our world forward, that we’re setting out to capture
What People Say About The Show
“I’m nearly done with my MBA program so it’s really interesting to hear about different aspects of business, innovation, etc.”
“Smooth conversation and you nailed the questions to make it understandable.”
“Dude. Listen to podcasts about 9 hours a day and have to say, yours is very legit and very good. I absolutely love it Nick and will listen to every one!”