Show History - Inception to Creation

I started this sho from absolutely nothing. My inspiration for creating studioHFL came from listening to other shows. The Brass Junkies, The Other Side of the Bell, and the Monster Oil interviews are all excellent and I continue to listen and watch them. As I was consuming that content it occurred to me that I could also do something similar. It was never my intent to copy what was already being done. Why on earth would I do that? Each of those programs, like so many others, found their niche, developed their brand and started growing their audience. They are successful in their own right.

There are over seven hundred thousand podcasts. Why add one more drop in the ocean unless it was going to be unique? I had to find my niche, the thing that set my product or service apart from the others. I had been listening to other shows and enjoying the format, but each one left me thinking I’d like to take a different approach. If you know me, you know that I’m a talker. It is easy for me to pass you in a hallway, say hello, and then spend the next thirty minutes talking about almost anything. I can’t help it. I am an extrovert and I truly enjoy talking to people. So, talking to someone in an interview was not going to be an issue. Rather, it was no different than the hallway conversation except the guest was invited, knew what they were getting into, and they knew they were being recorded.

I am not a fan of preset questions. Some interviews drive me nuts as I sense the interviewer caring more about the next question than the answer their guest is giving to the previous question. I’m not only a good talker, but I am a great listener. This didn’t give me a niche, but it did give me something different enough from many other interview shows. I start every interview with where each person is and what they are doing at that time. Not, literally, like “well, I’m here talking to you.” This is big picture stuff. A way to help them feel comfortable, although my guests have been interviewed many times and it probably should be me who is nervous or uncomfortable. I’m not, although there are times, I feel a little bit starstruck while interviewing a superstar like Doc, Sergei, or Ryan! My guests would have to be unique, but familiar to me and my eventual audience.

Who do trumpet players want to know more about? Well, other trumpet players, right? So, that is where I started. I contacted a few people I knew, some who were very high profile and some who were more locally known. What I knew from the beginning is that every person has a story. When given the opportunity and a comfortable setting almost anyone will open up about themselves. I know this because I like talking about myself, too! Yes, it is a trumpet player thing. Get over it. I did. In fact, my original thought was to just interview trumpet players. That is why the original meaning of the HFL in studioHFL meant Higher Faster Louder.

In the early part of 2020 I was mulling this over in conversation with my wife. I had begun interviewing non-trumpet players. Horn, trombone, tuba, composers, and possibly conductors had and would become guests on my show. HFL now has come to mean Hear From Legends. The byline is Legends and Legends in the Making. This is a way to show respect for each of my guests. Some are at different stages in their careers and may not be at that true legendary status…yet! Those that I am fortunate to interview are those that I consider legends or legends in the making. There are many who’s humility is obvious and don’t consider themselves to have achieved that legendary status. That is part of what makes them so! On many occasions when I am wrapping up an interview my guest will say ‘you sure made that easy’, or ‘that was really fun’, or ‘you’re really good at this.’ I love to hear that. Wouldn’t you? I like to know that the time we spend together is not going to be torturous, tedious, or with either or both of us looking at the time wondering “for the love of God, will this ever come to an end?”

There have been a few guests that I’ve pursued for some time for an interview. Their reluctance typically boils down to the idea that they don’t really have anything to say. Once I’m able to get them in an interview many times I can’t get them to stop talking! And, that’s a good thing! Again, everyone has a story to tell. Sometimes they just need to ease into the conversation. Small talk at the beginning is a good way to get someone to trust you and to slowly open the conversation to speaking about themselves and their experiences. I’ve always reassured my guests that I will never do anything in an interview to embarrass them or anyone they may mention during the course of the interview. Throwing a guest under the bus just to get a good bit of gossip out is a great way to never get anyone to agree to an interview again! I want them to know they can trust me. If they don’t ask me to edit something out and I feel that they might regret saying it, I’ll ask them about it in post-production. If they want to leave it in or take it out, I do what they ask.

Andrew Hitz, one of the hosts on Brass Junkies, was kind enough to listen to one of my first episodes. I knew the first few weren’t great in terms of production value. The interview itself was excellent, but the recording quality was lacking. He commented that it was ok to not be perfect in the beginning. It was ok that I was more concerned with getting something out there than waiting until it was perfect to release it. If I waited until it was perfect, I would still be waiting to release the first interview. I am constantly trying to improve every aspect of these interviews. From the visible brand to the interview, to the final product I am working to make it something that people will appreciate top to bottom.

I conducted the first interview in August of 2018 and released that one in November of the same year along with a handful of other interviews. Originally, the way of letting people know about it was by email and some random Facebook posts. As everything grew so did my understanding of how things should and would work. I did a lot of trolling on other podcast websites, Patreon pages, blogs, and such to try to adapt my brand accordingly. I wasn’t trying to copy their content, but if their content worked for them, I knew I needed to have something similar. If I had tried to copy them, in every case I would have failed. Their brand is not my brand. Their audience is not necessarily my audience. I knew I needed to stick to my niche and develop the brand around that. I’m still learning, adapting, evolving, growing, however you want to look at it.

I am fortunate to have colleagues like Dan Gosling, the inventor of Chopsaver, who is willing to help me navigate some of the obstacles of getting a product or service to market. People like Dan are invaluable, and others should seek out their ‘Dan’ to help them. I struggled early on in the interview process. Specifically, I was worried that listeners may perceive me as uneducated and underprepared for the interviews.

My approach to interviews is that I do not do any research beforehand. In my mind, to do so could possibly try to steer the interview towards one or more of some items that I had seen. Rather, I would like to start the interview as a blank slate. Asking questions as if I didn’t know anything about the guest or their experiences. Sometimes, that may come off as naïve or dumb, but I want to ask questions and let the interview develop organically. My thought is that if a ten-year-old were to hear this interview they would be as intrigued as a seasoned musician who were listening to it. I’m trying to appeal to and reach as many listeners right where they are. If that comes off as elementary that is ok with me.