Listen to This: Learning how to fund a podcast house

One of the reasons I chose journalism as a career is because I decided, at some point in college, that I wasn’t cut out for a 9-to-5 desk job, and I wanted a career where I could do something new every day. There are many things I wanted out of my journalism career back then that I was completely wrong about, but I was spot-on with this one.

There’s a lot that goes into managing our little production house (which is getting less little every day). Working at The Drag, some days I wake up before the sun has come up, and while I’m making coffee, inspiration strikes and helps me make edits to a script I’ve been laboring over for weeks. I spend Zoom-meeting-less days reading an oral history of Lady Bird Johnson for research on a new podcast (which I’ll tell you more about soon!), flagging quotes with brightly colored Post-It notes and scribbling reminders into a notebook. I regularly meet up with Quigley, our fearless leader and founder of The Drag, for a patio beer and a plate of french fries at The Little Darlin’ bar in South Austin to read through scripts. I spend hours in Zoom meetings with Drag staffers, sticking more Post-It notes (seriously, I think I own stock in Post-It notes by now) to the white walls of my home office to plan out stories. I listen to podcasts while sitting on my back porch, watching the birds in my backyard avoid the food I thoughtfully put out for them and instead opt for building nests in my ferns.

I’m constantly fulfilling that college dream of doing something new every day, but I’m also constantly learning something new in this job. And one of the things I’ve enjoyed learning about the most? Fundraising. I know, it doesn’t sound super exciting in comparison to all the Post-Its … but it is. I’ve worked for nonprofits before, but this is the first time fundraising has been a major part of my job. I’ve learned that telling compelling stories doesn’t come easy — or cheap. I’m grateful that we have the support of the Moody College of Communication, whose development team is top-notch and devoted to helping The Drag succeed, but The Drag is sort of like a start-up — we’ve already gone through our initial “product launch” (our first two podcasts, The Orange Tree and Request Pending) and we’re working on about 10 more podcasts. And none of it’s possible without generous donors. You know those ads you hear on podcasts, selling you mattresses or socks or vitamins? Those help make podcasts sustainable, but we pay our student staffers for the excellent work they do before our podcasts come out, which means while ad revenue is amazing (Hello, advertisers! Email me!), we can’t wait and rely on it alone.

We’re currently reaching out to potential sponsors for “35,” Sara Schleede’s new podcast telling the stories of Texas and Texans along Interstate 35, and we just received funding from our on-campus partners Planet Texas 2050 for a podcast about the environment and climate change in Texas (more on that soon, too!), and that’s just the start. 

We’re blown away by the support we’ve received for our currently untitled podcast examining the Black experience on America’s college campuses. Thanks to our team at Moody, we launched a HornRaiser (think GoFundMe, but for UT) to raise money for the project, and we’ve already raised over $1,300! Thanks to support from Tyler Campbell, son of Earl Campbell and a producer on the podcast, Faith and David have already interviewed Ricky Williams (yes, seriously!) for the first episode, and it’s an interview unlike any other you’ve heard with the former UT football star. We have a $10,000 fundraising goal, so if you want to support this project, donate to our HornRaiser here, or you can donate to The Drag here

Katey is the managing director of The Drag Audio, the first full-scale podcast production house on a college campus.

Further reading

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