You can have the greatest podcast in the world, but if people don't know it exists, nobody will listen. Being an independent podcaster I've found making people aware of your podcast is more than half the battle. There's no money in the banana stand for an advertising campaign, so I choose to focus my energy on pumping out compelling content.
An interview like the one I did with Dave Charles is a great help. When The Toronto Star wrote about Toronto Mike'd a couple of years ago, it helped many people discover the show. They tried an episode, liked what they heard, and became subscribers. So thanks, Dave!
But I do find a few aspects of this interview rather peculiar. I learned this conversation was published on Thursday morning. I honestly thought it was going to be published the day we talked in August, or maybe a day or two later, so in the meantime I completely forgot it happened. But there it was Thursday, and I was excited to share it, but there was a glaring error in the headline. They called me "Podcast Mike" instead of "Toronto Mike".
No biggie, I sent Dave a note Thursday morning and figured someone would go in and make the 0.2 second edit so I could share it moments later. I know if someone writes me about a typo in one of my posts, it's fixed mere seconds after I read the correspondence. As I type, that FYI Music News headline still reads "Podcast Mike".
Several weeks ago, I got an email from a David Farrell asking for a picture, so I sent him many fine photos of me with various guests of Toronto Mike'd and some pro shots taken for the Toronto Star cover story. Instead, they used a rather old screen capture of a Zoom and wrote "image provided".
Image provided? By whom? Not me! Just another bizarre detail, but there are more!
For the first question, I'm referred to as "Mike'd", which is strange enough on its own, but after that I'm referred to as "MD". For the life of me, I don't know what that's supposed to stand for. Is it short for "Mike'd", Do they realize I'm "Toronto Mike" and the podcast is called "Toronto Mike'd". Wouldn't "TM" make more sense?
But wait, there's more! I've mentioned this interview took place in mid-August, but was only published Thursday morning, about two months later. During the chat, I promoted the upcoming #TMLX13 event. For some reason, this was left in the interview, even though that date is well in the past. It just doesn't make sense.
Speaking of things that don't make sense, Dave Charles makes this declaration in the second paragraph.
I’ve done two Toronto Mike’d shows and both were lots of fun. Listen to the DaveCharles meets Toronto Mike’d episode # 955. Just Google ‘Toronto Mike’d – DaveCharles # 955.
This is a web page. Why are you telling people to Google something when you could easily link to it right then and there. Isn't that the whole point of HTML?
I realize I sound ungrateful, and if I wasn't referred to as "Podcast Mike" in the title, I'd have ignored the other quirks. But the refusal to get my name right in the headline tells me they don't care to get it right, and that's just wrong.
Here's my conversation with FOTM Dave Charles, with one edit to promote the upcoming #TMLX14 instead of #TMLX13. Oh, and I refer to myself as "TM" instead of "MD".
Dave Charles: How did Toronto Mike’d come about?
Toronto Mike: Back in 2006, when Mix 99.9 relieved Humble Howard of his duties, Humble and Fred wanted to broadcast together again but were without a terrestrial radio home. I talked them into giving this burgeoning new format of podcasting a try. After watching them do their thing for a few years, I got the itch to leave my comfort home and start my own podcast. That was in 2012. By the way, I’m still producing the Humble and Fred podcast all these years later.
DC: Give us your media resume so far.
TM: I have zero mainstream media experience. I’ve never worked a day in television, radio or any other media. I started the Toronto Mike blog back in 1999,, and the Toronto Mike’d Podcast in 2012. I run on instinct.
DC: How can our readers access your podcasts?
TM: Toronto Mike’d is available everywhere you find podcasts, but if you’re looking for my little slice of real estate online, I’d head to torontomike.com/podcast/.
DC: I know that all guests are interviewed but are also on your video feed. Give us the lowdown on your technical setup.
TM: The podcast is audio-only, but periodically I do live stream video of the recording. I set up a pirate stream so I can play music; you’ll find that at live.torontomike.com. You never know what you’re going to see there.
DC: Give us your top three interview subjects by category to date in Radio. Sports and Entertainment, and your TV? What is your favourite interview of all time and why?
TM: I loved radio growing up, so I’ve enjoyed my hundreds of chats with local radio personalities. I also love sports, so many sports media episodes are in the archives. But I think my favourite chats are with musicians. Paul Langlois visited my home studio a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing. He even played live! It’s one of my all-time favourite episodes, alongside Chuck D and the time Rusty dropped by. Still, my all-time favourite chat might have been with Jerry Howarth because that man was the soundtrack of my summers growing up and to have him visit and spend 90 minutes answering my many questions and telling me such remarkable stories, well that’s a bucket list item right there.
DC: Who was the most challenging interview in your Toronto Mike’d history?
TM: Molly Johnson. Her episode is unlike any others in the 1300+ episode history of the podcast.
DC: With your in-home studio, how do you wrangle your guests into your personal interview space?
TM: Excluding the pandemic when I had to pivot to remote episodes for the period, it’s essential for me that I chat with my guests in person. There’s nothing like that energy when you’re in the same space. I’m willing to wait years for a guest to visit my home studio. Roger Ashby, Ron MacLean, Jim Cuddy, Fergie Olver, Dan Shulman, Leo Rautins, Hazel Mae, and Donovan Bailey, for example, were all happy to chat in person. I asked them, and they said yes! Patience is one of my superpowers.
DC: You’ve been able to attract many sponsors to your Toronto Mike’d podcast. Give our readers and fellow podcasters an insight into your business model. Give us a list of your sponsor categories so far. From Pasta to Funeral homes to Stickers to smart speakers etc.. Is this your only source of revenue?
TM: I run my own digital services company called TMDS and produce podcasts for people and businesses, so sponsors of Toronto Mike’d is not my only source of revenue. It has been amazing this past decade working with the great people at Great Lakes Brewery, Palma Pasta, EPRA, The Moment Lab, Moneris, StickerYou and yes, Ridley Funeral Home. Shout out the Ridley Funeral Home.
DC: Who is on your Toronto Mike’d ‘Wish List’ for future interviews?
TM: Some people on my wishlist have already politely declined, but there are several I’m hoping will still visit for a good chat… people from Tom Cochrane to Scott Thompson and Matt Devlin. I think Ian Hanomansing would make a great FOTM.
DC: I was a bit nervous doing my first show with you because I had heard that you were out put your guests on the spot. That didn’t happen to me. However Mike, were there other guest encounters that didn’t go well for you? What did you learn from that experience?
TM: I’ve heard from many guests that they were nervous because I ask the tough questions, but I’m also very fair and respectful. I think that’s the key… respect your guest. Over 1300 episodes and I can’t think of a single time things went south because I put my guest on the spot. The fact is, when Mike Stafford visited recently, I was going to ask about his tweets and the message that resulted in his termination, because he knows I’m not going to have him on if he’s unwilling to discuss that. A week ago, Fergie Olver visited, making his first public appearance in many, many years. And I can’t have Fergie Olver over for a 90-minute chat without asking him about the YouTube video.
DC: You work with radio greats like Mark Hebscher. Tell us about your sports show with him.
TM: Hebsy and I met when he came over for an episode of Toronto Mike’d. I was a big fan of Sportsline with him and Jim Tatti, so he was a dream guest. And he was great… that man can tell a story. So I invited him over again and again and one day, he told me he wanted to start a sports podcast and I agreed to produce and co-host. Hebsy on Sports was born. Mark Hebscher was the very first TMDS client. We recorded weekly for five years.
DC: Who were some of your radio idols?
TM: I grew up loving Tom Rivers. He was my favourite. Then, as a teenager, I was all about 102.1 for the music and 1430/590 for the sports talk. This might explain why I’ve had so many personalities from those two stations on Toronto Mike’d.
DC: You are excellent at developing your network of followers. How do you market and advertise Toronto Mike’d?
TM: My focus is on producing interesting content that people enjoy. People love to share their favourite independent podcasts with friends and family, so over time, by word of mouth and reputation, you gain an audience. We even collect in person three times a year at TMLX events, and TMLX14 is taking place December 9 from noon-3 p.m. at Palma's Kitchen in Mississauga. You should come, Dave!
DC: Can you give us an estimate of how many distinct listeners you now have listening to your podcasts on a regular basis?
TM: Whatever number is in your head right now, triple it. I’m blown away at how successful this passion project has become.
DC: Most successful podcast shows average between 30 and 45 minutes. Most of your shows run over one hour. What are some of the ways that you use to keep your guests on their toes and delivering the goods?
TM: A typical Toronto Mike’d episode is 90 minutes. Sometimes they’re shorter, and sometimes they’re longer. I do lots of research and load up loads of relevant audio, then I feed off my guest’s energy. Part of the charm of Toronto Mike’d is it’s completely unedited, so you hear it unfold in real time. Often the realtalk doesn’t arrive until 60-75 minutes of conversation. There are no shortcuts.
DC: As you know, radio is struggling to find quality content. Would you consider doing Toronto Mike’d or a similar version on AM or FM, and ave you been approached by any radio station or broadcaster group to carry your show?
TM: I have never been approached by any radio station. I’ve never even had a nibble.
DC: There may be someone reading this interview looking for advice on who to set up a podcast show. Where can our readers contact you about sharing some intel?
TM: I’m super accessible and happy to talk to anyone about their podcast, or my podcast, or why Rusty’s Fluke is one of the great albums of all time. I’m email@example.com or you can DM me on the social media app formerly known as Twitter. I’m @torontomike.