Lynette Carolla and Teresa Strasser, co-hosts of The Parent Experiment, are part of a movement that’s blurring the lines between terrestrial radio and podcasting. As part of the ACE Broadcasting Network, they currently claim the top spot in the Kids & Family category and have held the #1 position since their debut podcast which was downloaded more than 115,000 times.
Lynette (pictured right), the mother of three-year old twins, and Teresa (pictured left), the mother of a four-month old, attribute their early success to their ability to provide a vehicle for people to have adult conversations (including adult themes and the occasional expletive) with humor and brutal honesty. Unlike TV or radio which are heavily regulated by the FCC and/or company executives that control and censor broadcasts, podcasting has allowed them to have discussions in an open forum that Lynette and Teresa think wouldn’t have been possible 10-15 years ago. “They’d be happening behind closed doors. It would be like the 1950s. Lynette would have me over and she’d bake coffee cake,” joked Strasser.
Lynette remembered being startled by an unexpected guest during the early days of her husband Adam’s podcasts which he originated from their den a day after being let go from his radio gig with KLSX in California. “I’m cooking dinner making corned beef brisket and veggies and Andy Dick kinda wanders into the kitchen. Adam isn’t a big communicator about his work…he doesn’t give me a big heads up.” No doubt the direct result of such unannounced pop ins and the growing popularity of their podcasts, the ACE Network now resides in Adam’s warehouse attracting guests such as Christoph Waltz (odds on favorite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Inglourious Basterds), Seth MacFarlane, Frank Stallone, George Takei, and Melissa Rivers. In addition to The Parent Experiment, the ACE Network boasts successes in other categories including CarCast (ranked #5 in Games & Hobbies), Spider and the Henchman (#15 Sports and Recreation), and their flagship offering, The Adam Carolla Podcast (6th in Comedy). And that brings us to the business side of podcasting.
The ACE Network has relied heavily on an army of volunteers (close friends) to launch their venture. They started off slowly (see broadcasting “from their den” mentioned earlier), and continued to build their infrastructure one small step at a time. But running their operation takes money and that’s where they’ve had to get creative. They need to find a way to charge for something (podcasts) that tons of other people are giving away for free. “It’s hard. This is new territory—new water,” said Lynette. “We need a sponsor! We’re for sale,” quipped Strasser. Besides sponsorship, the Adam Carolla podcast is experimenting with live “Help Keep the Lights On” comedy shows where they are able to generate a little revenue from the gate as well as offer a podcast of the show for $2.99.
Although they have a very successful blog and have been at the top of the iTunes charts for four successive weeks, Lynette and Teresa joked that their #1 spot is probably the result of a computer glitch—that they really aren’t beating Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer. At this point, their goals are modest: “I would just like to make a living and to keep speaking to moms and dads,” commented Teresa who was once passed over for a spot on The View, because ironically, she didn’t have a child at the time.
I look forward to following the growth of The Parent Experiment podcast and watching the ACE Broadcasting Network’s ongoing efforts to turn podcasting into a sustainable business model. And maybe I’ll create something a little more retro myself; seems like that’s the only way to get a piece of coffee cake these days. In the meantime, you can check out their interview with Mayim Bialik (you might remember her from the TV show Blossom) about green parenting tips.
About Teresa Strasser and Lynette Carolla:
Teresa is an Emmy winning comedy writer, TV & Radio host and the creative force behind the ExploitingMyBaby.com blog.
Lynette is also no stranger to television, having made numerous appearances on The Adam Carolla Project, which aired on The Learning Channel (TLC). She serves as producer of The Parent Experiment.
Shawn Graham is author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com).