First CastSource Story from Tom Webster

First CastSource Story from Tom Webster

Tom is a podcaster and co-host of a show called Marketing Companion and a researcher who has co-authored a best-selling book called, The Mobile Commerce Revolution: Business Success In A Wireless World. He is also the principal author of a number of widely cited studies in digital and social media, including The Social Habit, Twitter Users in America and an annual series of studies on Podcasting. Not to forget, Tom is the co-author of The Infinite Dial, the longest-running research series examining consumer usage of digital and traditional media in America.

On the show you’ll find out:

  • How Tom got started into podcasting and his general love for audio
  • Which SPAM he likes to read
  • What does it mean to be a great podcast host

You can listen to Tom on podcast The Marketing Companion, read Tom’s blog on and follow him on Twitter


Also available on iTunes


Evaldas Miliauskas: Hello, my friend. I’m grateful that you tuned in into this debut episode and I promise you, it will be worthwhile your time. For a long time, I was a podcast listener but I always wondered how the shows are born. So that’s why I decided to ask the podcasters themselves. Hold and behold, CastSource was born. It tells of the stories of other podcasters.

For our first episode, we will talk to Tom Webster and you’ll learn what got him interested into audio, fun stories of his podcast experience, what spam he reads, and finally, what does it mean to be a great podcast host. So without any wait, let’s dig in.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our first episode of the one and only podcast called CastSource Stories Behind Podcasting and I’m delighted to present my first guest, Tom Webster. Tom is a fellow podcaster co-host of a show, Marketing Companion, a VP at Edison research, bestselling book out on Amazon – the Mobile Commerce Evolution: Business Success in a Wireless World – author, and blogger at BrandSavant’s, small joke genius, and also impersonation mastermind. Now let me give a stage to our guest and let’s get ready to rumble. So how are you, Tom, today?

Tom Webster: I’m great. I hope I don’t wreck this show.

Evaldas: No, don’t worry.

Tom: It’s not the first show that I’ve been the very first guest on and the last one I did, that show’s over. So I might have bad luck, I don’t know.

Evaldas: No, I don’t think so. I think you have good luck to me. So can you give our listeners short of a short intro what are you focusing on at the moment just so we could get a little bit glimpse in your life.

Tom: Yeah, sure. So I’m a researcher; I study humans. My company, Edison Research, probably the thing we’re best known for here in the U.S. is we’re the sole providers of the exit polls during all the elections and primaries and caucuses and things like that. So if you’ve ever seen any election coverage on TV of American elections – doesn’t really matter what channel you watch or it came from – all of that exit polling data comes from us and it’s a busy year for us because it’s an election year. And I’m also really interested in media and I’ve been studying and researching how people consume media and their preferences and behaviors around media for a long time and, relevant to this show and to your listeners, podcasting is something I’ve studied for over a decade now. So we put out a lot of research on podcasting and how it’s growing and what it needs to do to continue to grow and so on. So it’s a medium I’m very interested in.

Evaldas: Yeah, actually I did saw your slides and I saw your blog just last year and the data you showed there really looks exciting, I mean, in terms of growth as a medium. So can you tell me a little bit why did you start podcasting, in general?

Tom: I’ve always loved audio. I’ve been an audio fan for almost my entire life. I grew up in a very small town in a very remote location in the U.S. Like we’re up in a town in Northern Maine which is about as far north in the U.S. as you can get. And, just growing up, I didn’t have a lot to listen to, necessarily, but on clear nights or if the weather was just right with skips in the atmosphere, I could listen to radio stations out of Boston on AM radio or I could — this was before the internet so I didn’t have this whole universe that we enjoy now but I’ve just always been a fan of audio. I worked in radio as a student; I’ve not worked in radio as an adult. But I do enjoy the medium a lot. I enjoy talking which is why I hardly ever say no to someone who’ll ask me to be on their podcast.

Evaldas: Yeah, that’s nice.

Tom: But I’m really passionate about audio and I think audio is a wonderful storytelling medium. It’s a companion medium, it’s something you can take with you, something you can do other things while you’re listening to and it’s continuing to grow.

Evaldas: So can you tell me a little bit, what kind of challenges did you face when you started podcasting? I mean, just the beginning.

Tom: Probably the same kinds of challenges everybody faces. I mean, the podcast I do with my friend, Mark Schaefer, The Marketing Companion, it really stemmed from a dinner conversation that we had at South by Southwest in Austin several years ago. I went out to dinner with Mark and my wife and we just had this incredible conversation at dinner. And we talked a little about podcasting and Mark is really big into content marketing and he was thinking, “I don’t know if I want to do a podcast. Maybe I should do a podcast,” and he talked to me about it and I think it was my wife who said, “You know, this dinner conversation would make a great podcast.” Flash forward just a couple of months later and Mark reaches out to me and he says, “I really want to do a podcast but, honestly, I only want to do it if you’ll do it with me,” and I said, “Sure, absolutely.” I mean, we hardly do any preparation of the show; they really are just a reflection of a great conversation between two smart people who know and like each other and like to have fun doing it and I think that really comes out. And the challenges, some of the challenges we have are probably shared by most podcasters and you’ll confront it as well and that’s building audience. Our audience is built pretty steadily; I think Mark has a really good platform with his blog that really helps with that. We’re enjoying a listenership that I would not have predicted which I’m very happy about. The other challenge is we’re both very busy people; we both fly and travel a lot. We do it every other weekend; that’s about as much as we can possibly do it and, even then, it can be difficult to get together. And one of the things that we decided early on with the show was that we were not going to have guests and we’ve never had a guest on The Marketing Companion for a very simple reason: it’s one more variable that we would have to work at and we just don’t want to work that hard.

Evaldas: Yeah. I mean, your podcast is great just as it is. I listen to several last show of yours and I really enjoyed when you did forecast for this year like Ripton Realty, that sort of stuff. I mean, it really engages, at least for me, as a sort of geek.

Tom: Thank you. Well, I’m a geek too so thank you.

Evaldas: Do you have funny stories that you can associate with your podcasting history? I mean, something that you remind yourself when you have a dinner with Mark and you talk about it?

Tom: Yeah, it’s one thing — we had this vision early in the show that we would — we called it The Marketing Companion on purpose. We had this thought that we would produce a show that would be something like The Prairie Home Companion which is a show on public radio here in the U.S. and that show has a little bit of humor, has some good stories, and they would have some pre-produced bits of a sort. And we thought we would do more pre-produced things than we ended up doing; we just simply don’t have the time to do it. But one that we did, I really enjoyed – I would like to do it again at some point – there’s a pub right around the corner from us called Stoddard’s – and Stoddard’s is kind of my local watering hole – I know the bartenders and the head of the bar really, really well and the bar manager – this guy named Jamie Walsh – who was — if you’ve ever watched a movie set in Boston and heard the Boston accent, that’s Jamie perfectly.

Evaldas: Is that like Southie? South Boston?

Tom: Yes, exactly. South Boston and Jamie has that great accent. I took a recorder in and — this might have been our second or third show and it was when — there was a bar in Seattle, Washington that banned people from wearing Google Glass in their bar. And it was a publicity for the bar as much as anything but their theory was that people deserve a little privacy in our bar and so if you have Google Glass, you can’t come in our bar. So I took the recorder, went to Stoddard’s, and I asked Jamie about it and I said, “Jamie, would you bar people with Google Glass from being in Stoddard’s?” and he was just like perfect Boston, just incredible, great accent and I won’t even try to mimic it but he was like, “No, what do they cost? Like $1,800? They must have some coin. They’ll buy some drinks.” He’s like, “I wouldn’t ban them,” I just thought that was such a great moment and I’d love to do more on that show but it’s just such a — it’s a time constraint thing.

Evaldas: I mean, how do you do those impersonations? I mean, your voice sounds like totally 100% different. Is that something you learned?

Tom: I’ve done it since I was a kid. Even when I was like seven or eight years old, I was trying to mimic people and do impersonations. It’s not necessarily a great skill of mine but it’s fun.

Evaldas: It definitely sounds great on the audio. One other thing, I sort of went through your blog and I saw you’re looking in your spam folder quite a lot. So you have an interest in that one?

Tom: Yeah, I have a website and I probably post to it once every two months called Tom Reads His Spam. And the sad thing is I’m running out of spam. I used to get so much great blog comment spam and either I have just really good spam filters or whatever — but the reason why I don’t do it as much is because I don’t see as much funny spam anymore and I get the same kinds of things everybody else probably does. You know, the Nigerian prince and Russian women looking to get married and things like that but I used to get some really funny ones and I decided one day to do dramatic readings on them. So that’s on

Evaldas: That’s funny. Actually, I went just to be interested from my spam folder and I can actually read one example for you if you’re interested?

Tom: Sure.


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Tom: My favorite blog comments that sort of give you fake praise. I got this one recently: at all times maintain it up. Fantastic goods from you, man. I’ve been aware of your stuff prior and you are just too fantastic. I really like what you have obtained here; I really like what you’re saying and the way during which you asserted. You’re so intelligent; your personal stuff’s great. At all times, maintain it up. I love those. They just sound like they’ve been badly translated from Google Translate from I don’t know what language but it’s good stuff.

Evaldas: Yeah, sometimes Google Translate makes good jokes better than you would think of yourself.

Tom: Yeah, absolutely.

Evaldas: I don’t want to take, too much of your time because we are a little bit tight. So a couple more questions, I’m just interested, do you use any analytics for your podcast? I mean, in general, as you sort of like statistics and metrics.

Tom: Well, we do track downloads and we have some sponsor and so we report that stuff. I mean, our podcast is doing well but it’s not at sort of the big data level as far as analytics go. Podcast analytics is my business – or it’s part of my business – I do work with clients like podcast 1 and NPR and CBS and some others that have networks of podcast and I work on analytics with them and I think podcast analytics are still really in their infancy. The download is what most people have and can report but, ultimately, what an advertiser is interested in is who listens and there’s two words there: who, in other words, who are these people? Are they young, are they old, are they men, are they women, what kind of car do they drive? Are they in the market for insurance, those kinds of question. But then also listens and it’s difficult to get a real metric on listens because podcasts can be consumed offline, they can be consumed in a variety of ways. So we still have to estimate that but we’re doing a much better job of being able to do that. So, “Who listened?” I think, is the most important question any podcaster can ask and have answered.

Evaldas: Alright, that sounds very interesting. And do you think transcripts does play a role in making a podcast more popular? I mean, in general, versus your other kind of purposes?

Tom: So I probably have a differing opinion on this than a lot of people. We get requests all the time from people saying, “Mark and I, I wish you would put up a transcript of your show because I don’t have time to listen and I would like to read it. And on the one hand, you hate to — if that helps grow audience, the obvious answer is, “Sure you do that,” but I think a lot of the show would get lost in a transcript. I mean, what really makes the show is the emotion that we have in our voices, the humor, and that stuff just doesn’t transcribe well. And if someone would rather skim what we had to say than listen to the show, I’m okay losing them as a audience person. I think the podcast is like a special treat and it’s a smaller audience than my blog or Mark’s blog but it’s an audience that gets a side of us that nobody else gets and it’s a passionate audience and we want to honor that. So we don’t transcribe and we’re not really planning to because it’s just not that kind of a show.

Evaldas: Alright, yeah. Sounds like the right thing to do. And maybe you can give sort of advice for anyone that starts out with podcast or just whoever doing any podcasting, what it would be like, and your one advice for any podcaster.

Tom: Well, I have so much advice for podcasters; I don’t want to go on.

Evaldas: Okay, maybe give three then.

Tom: Okay, the first is that never forget that you’re putting on a show. There are a lot of podcasts out there that don’t seem to be aware that they are trying to put on an entertainment. And even if you think your podcast is information, it’s useful, it’s a utility of some kind, if I choose to listen to it, I’m choosing to take several minutes out of my day to devote to this and it’s not all that efficient a way to transfer information. I mean, I can skim a page in a few seconds. It’s going to take several minutes to read that page out loud; it’s a very inefficient way to transfer information. So, ultimately, your show has to be an entertainment; it has to be involving somehow and I would encourage people, I would encourage you to listen back to a show. And don’t be afraid to put it under the bed – as Stephen King would say – and not even air it if you don’t think it’s entertaining. Mark and I have done that. Mark and I have cancelled — like we recorded a show, we’ve listened back to it, we just said, “That was not a good show,” and we didn’t post it. We felt like we didn’t need to post it and it wasn’t representative of who we are. So I think that would be the number one thing, is never forget that a podcast is not some special snowflake, it’s a show, and a show has to have some value, it has to challenge, it has to educate, it has to inform but it has to do more than simply the text on the page.

Evaldas: Yeah, that’s a great advice. I think — so we’re out for questions, do you want to do any last shout out for listeners?

Tom: No. Are you in Malta? Is that where you are?

Evaldas: Yeah, I’m in Malta.

Tom: I’ve been many places in the world; I have never been to Malta. Well, some day I’ll get there but good luck with the podcast. Thanks for having me.

Evaldas: Alright, thank you, Tom, and have a good day.

Tom: Cheers.

Evaldas: Cheers. Bye.

Host: Hey, let me know if you enjoyed the episode and what kind of guest would you like again? Write me an email,, comment on podcast blogpost, or leave a review at iTunes. On our next show, you’ll have a guest who not just teaches these listeners how to become from developer to millionaire, but also, he raps on his podcast. See you there.

About Evaldas Miliauskas

Evaldas Miliauskas is the founder of CastSource - a startup that provides transcriptions designed for podcasts. He is a passionate podcaster listener, host, and a entrepreneur.

Entries by Evaldas Miliauskas