Finding a New Voice
By Brad McEwen
It was a familiar setting. I’d been there before. No reason to be worried or concerned.
But no matter how much I tried, I still couldn’t shake the feeling of impending dread.
It was like I had somehow gotten crossed-up with fictional up-and-coming, underground rapper Rabbit from Eminem’s chart-topping smash about seizing your moment, “Lose Yourself.”
There I was: sweaty-palmed, knock-kneed, heavy limbed (and glad it was too early in the morning to have had any of mom’s spaghetti).
Only I wasn’t standing at the edge of a stage, a hungry crowd waiting intently to see if I really had the lyrical skills they’d heard so much chatter about.
To the contrary, I was just sitting in the familiar confines of the AB&T boardroom, getting ready to do something I’ve done so many times I lost count years ago—conducting an interview.
Now don’t get me wrong, while some interviews are slightly nerve-inducing, those really are few and far between actually. And there was certainly no need to fear sitting down and chatting with my friend and colleague Matt Rushton—as a good a guy as you’ll ever meet.
Not only have I worked closely with Matt during my four-plus years at AB&T, we’ve known each other for years. Heck, I even lived with his cousin in college.
So, it wasn’t the fear of asking questions or talking with Matt about his professional growth or the joy he derives helping to guide the fortunes or AB&T while also raising his young family in his cherished home town.
I really think I could do that in my sleep.
There was just no way that having a simple conversation with a truly great dude was the cause of the beads of sweat collecting on my brow that morning.
No matter how you sliced it, there was just no reason for me to be as nervous as a housecat and shaking like the last leaf on a maple in late December.
But I was.
Ultimately that fear had little to do with conducting a pleasant interview with a friend, in a familiar setting.
Rather it was the super massive furry-tipped black microphone staring me in the face that had driven my stomach into my shoes and turned my throat into a ragged scrap of sandpaper.
Seriously, that’s really all it took to briefly turn this once confident journalist and people person into a blubbering teen on his first date.
That microphone must’ve been 10 stories high if it was a foot and the more I considered it, the more jelly-like my legs became, the more my tummy twisted itself in knots.
In the past, it had always just been me and the subject—sitting down, chewing the fat, having a casual, untimed conversation—but this was an entirely new animal.
That microphone told the tale.
This particular chat would feature not just the words, thoughts and voice of the interview subject.
This conversation was not the regular Beyond the Bank interview leading to a Sunday feature casting some light on one of our many amazing area residents.
No, this interview was the beginning of a brand new (and at the time slightly daunting) offshoot of Beyond the Bank—designed to further its reach and reimagine the ways in which we can tell the story of our community.
When Matt and I gathered in that boardroom we weren’t just talking. We were moving into the future—a bright, exciting future that from then on, would include Beyond the Bank…
as a Podcast!
Fear or not, there was no turning back.
The mic was hot and as Eminem said, it was my time to blow.
In all honesty, much of that first interview is a bit of a blur—seemingly done in what seemed to me like 37 seconds—but thankfully that first half hour interview turned out to be a pretty darn good one.
But even with the audio in the can, I still had worries about the whole thing.
I mean, who was I to host a podcast, to serve as some kind of on-air talent? And who in the world (outside of the family members and colleagues forced to be with me every day) would want to spend even 30 seconds, let alone, 30 minutes, listening to my natural “southern surfer doofus” voice?
I mean, even after our Beyond the Bank engineer/producer Perry Revell had finished the first edit and sent me the final product for review, I still had my doubts.
But wonderfully they didn’t last long.
Within a few minutes of submitting the inaugural Beyond the Bank episode to Spotify it was accepted. And it wasn’t long after that I experienced two of the surrealist moments of my life (and believe me when I say I’ve been involved in some pretty weird situations in my 44 years).
In all honestly, I really can’t adequately describe what it was like watching my wife, sitting in our bed, listening to Matt talking about the incredible people that have helped guide him through life, on Spotify.
But even that paled just a few hours later.
Within 24 hours of listening to it on Spotify, there Tay and I were, standing in our kitchen, eyes glued to our iPhones, looking at a stylized image of yours truly, and listening intently to AB&T’s own Matt Rushton discussing the beauty of building strong relationships.
At that moment, all the hours of researching how to create a podcast, procuring the needed equipment, scripting out an interview framework, Perry whiling away on his MacBook removing the dry lip smacking from my track, the quite real fear that drove those same gulps and smacks during the interview, all seemed to vanish—swept away as my mind was blown.
At that moment, there it was—Beyond the Bank was on Apple Podcasts!!
The supreme daddy of podcast providers. The provider I had been told might take a month or more to review and approve our first episode. The largest podcast network on the globe.
It’s still a little weird to think about. I mean seriously, Matt Rushton and Brad McEwen, two local guys from little old Albany, GA doing a Beyond the Bank interview on Apple Podcasts.
Although my mind is still racing a little from all the excitement, seeing that podcast episode (which is now available across numerous platforms including iHeartRadio, Amazon, Overcast, Podfriend and more) on Apple has really brought the power of the whole thing home for me.
And strengthened my resolve.
Where I started with a bunch of worry, I now move forward confidently, ready to use the newly discovered platform to make Beyond the Bank that much richer and more exciting. And accessible to a whole different audience.
With a whole new avenue for storytelling, the possibilities of what we can do and who we can reach are seemingly limitless.
At this stage of the proceeding what exactly that future looks like is still a little fuzzy, or as the photog in me would say, it’s still coming into focus. But even in its infancy, there’s no denying how powerful this podcast concept can be. And I for one am beyond thrilled.
It only takes one listen to my interview with Matt to see how cool this medium can be.
In the coming months we’ll be releasing episodes every two weeks with guests like ASU Head Baseball Coach Scot Hemmings, Chehaw Education Director Jackie Entz Shores, Albany Area Chamber President Barbara Rivera Holmes, APD Chief Michael Persley and more.
But more importantly, we’ll be continuing to tell the incredible story of our community through the words and thoughts of some of our most interesting and important residents—some you’ve met before and some perhaps new to your acquaintance.
When we started this Beyond the Bank journey over four years ago we knew we were heading out into uncharted waters, but much to our delight the sailing has been smooth. And as the months fly by, I’m continually reminded not only of why we started Beyond the Bank, but why this community is so fantastic.
At this point I’d like to encourage you to give our Beyond the Bank podcast a try, but also, I want to take a moment to say thank you.
Thank you to colleagues like Matt and Perry, and rest of the AB&T family, for lending their support and talents to making sure Beyond the Bank is truly representative of the values of this company and this community.
And thanks too, to the loyal followers of Beyond the Bank and the countless men and women working so hard to make the Albany area the treasure it is.
Here’s to a long and exciting future chasing our story…
And here’s a link to episode one of Beyond the Bank the podcast featuring Matt Rushton:
I hope you enjoy.
Connect with Brad – 229.405.7212 - firstname.lastname@example.org - @BradGMcEwen