Jodie Hough grew up listening to talk radio. Her father always had a talk radio station on for background noise, and when Hough became a stay-at-home-mom to a son and daughter, she followed suit by listening to podcasts.
"I needed to hear adults talking," Hough said.
But now there's a twist.
The Wheaton resident has had her own podcast, "RealiTV," for about nine months, and her podcasting career is growing.
Hough, 38, has teamed up to do a second podcast, "Moms on the Rocks," with Carrie Gillen of Alexandria, Va., whom Hough has dubbed her mentor.
"As soon as I heard ("RealiTV") I thought, 'This girl is going someplace,' " Gillen said. "She has a fresher style and it is very well produced.
"She had no Twitter followers when she started and I became her first one. I emailed her to tell her I loved her show."
Gillen and Hough will discuss more than motherhood on the podcast. It's not going to be the typical parenting podcast.
"When you're out of that baby stage (as a parent), you don't need the baby advice but you want to talk about normal stuff," Hough said. "Being a mom now, it's completely different than when we grew up."
The "Moms on the Rocks" podcast has already piqued the interest of AudioBoom, a podcast hosting site that helps podcasters distribute their shows and get advertisers.
And because of the popularity of her "RealiTV" podcast, Hough was also contacted by the cable channel TLC to be a part of a special to discuss the current season of the network's reality show, "90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After?"
Hough recently chatted to the Tribune about how "RealiTV" came about and the nuances of keeping it afloat.
Q: In one of your first podcasts on "RealiTV," you mentioned the show that was the catalyst for doing this was "90 Day Fiance" on TLC.
A: There are all these little shows on TLC and A&E and no one was talking about them. "90 Day Fiance" is such an incredible show. I thought, 'There has to be other people watching this.' So I Googled how to do a podcast and bought a cheap microphone and thought, if no one listens no one will ever hear it. I tried to get my friends to listen. But it spread with a closed Facebook group (that has 874 members) and took off from there.
Q: But you weren't just reviewing "90 Day Fiance" at first and doing podcasts once a week like you are now. How many reality shows were you watching for your podcast when you started?
A: Six to seven shows. I was reviewing them when I was doing the podcasts every day. It's so hard not to want to please everyone and watch everything that people ask. I get emails and people ask: 'Will you watch 'Bridezillas'?' You don't know which shows are going to be the big ones.
When I was doing multiple episodes per week, it helped me jump start and find my listeners. But there was a sacrifice on my family. I couldn't put the kids to bed. I stayed up until 3 a.m. I had 10,000 downloads a week when I was doing that, but it was over a few podcasts.
Q: How much does it cost to do a podcast and how much revenue are you making?
A: It's all out of pocket. The only time you're making money is when people sign up for Patreon (a membership service that podcasters use to generate revenue by posting their content; subscribers pay a certain amount to listen to podcast episodes and the podcaster gets a portion of that revenue) to listen to bonus episodes. You have to buy the microphone and pay for hosting fees. On Podbean you pay monthly to upload your podcast.
Here's the real thing with sponsorships: I got two a while ago. They wanted to do three ads. It's like $10 an ad. But the thing with sponsorships is, in order to really get a sponsor, it depends on how many downloads you're getting per episode within 30 days. When you get 10,000 downloads per episode per 30 days, that's basically when sponsors look at you. A network (like AudioBoom or Wondery) wouldn't look at you unless you have those big numbers. It's hard when it's just you and you don't have that machine doing it for you. I'm not even making $1,000 a month, maybe $700, and Patreon takes their cut, too. But the great thing about being an independent podcaster is you find your tribe and really support each other. You get excited when people do really well.
Q: How long did it take for you to realize you were gaining a small but rabid following with "RealiTV"? You have 100 members on the Patreon-only podcast group and over 10,000 total plays on YouTube – and your Twitter following has grown from just one to 735 and you have 1,015 followers on Instagram.
A: Probably about two or three months in, it was all of a sudden just multiple Facebook requests every day. People bond and laugh over the show. (The comments) haven't gotten too political. We're all just there to laugh and have an escape. I've never had to ban or block someone from the Facebook group. I don't know if it is just luck, but we all have the same kind of sense of humor and personality and look at life the similar way.
Q: The Facebook group has grown into a tight-knit community. It's not just random people commenting on reality television is it?
A: A couple months ago, a member of the Facebook group passed away. The sister said she had three kids under age 5. She was super active in the group and always posting stuff. Between me and the "Moms and Murder" podcast we sent flowers to a memorial and donated to (a memorial fund).
Q: The Facebook group is subtitled Orchard of Snark and your trademark style on "RealiTV" is being sarcastic about these reality TV stars. Have any of them ever reached out to you on social media and asked you to stop the sarcasm?
A: I don't follow any of these people on social media; I don't feel like I'm trolling them. I'm not setting them up. To me, I'm going by what I see on TV and what they put out there. If they do something that makes the news I'll put it out there. I'll never go on anyone's Instagram and call them out. That, to me, feels like I am going into their space.
("Teen Mom" star) Farrah Abraham's dad reached out to me and wanted me to interview him. But, first of all, I would never do that and I don't want to talk to these people in real life.
The shows like "Teen Mom" or "90 Day Fiance" or "Jersey Shore" they're giving you this material. I feel like it is fair game. I try to not be too cruel, and I try to not comment on people's physical looks, but more on just the crazy things they do.
Q: How does your family react to the podcasts?
A: My kids have had me home and they didn't see me doing anything else. The selfish part of me is they see me doing something outside of making lunches, etc. I have to work, too. I'm passionate about it and meeting people and stepping outside the box.
It's fun and challenging. But at the end of the day, it's a just-for-fun podcast. It's not just me being a mom. It's me being something different.