Franklin, TN (August 20, 2020)—The podcast team at Ramsey Solutions, home of the widely syndicated radio program The Dave Ramsey Show, had a problem—or what the company’s can-do namesake would call an opportunity.
After experiencing rapid growth over six years with its lineup of eight recurring programs and a serialized podcast, the production team was strong…but it was also siloed.
“Before we knew it, we had a team of eight to ten engineers, [with] one producer solely dedicated to their show,” says Eric Cieslewicz, senior producer of podcasts at Ramsey Solutions, whose financial programming is aimed at helping listeners get out of debt and gain control of their money.
Production processes among the nine podcasts were working but far from uniform—something that the COVID-19 pandemic quickly exposed. Some producers were taking a manual approach to show editing, while others used automated processes to move along the workflow for each episode. Cieslewicz saw an immediate need to cross train the production team in order to maintain operation standards and security during unpredictable times.
“We’re trying to standardize our audio,” he says, including “creating a better template in Pro Tools [so] everything would funnel through the right plug-ins. We’ve learned a lot from needing to work across different shows where it’s not just one producer with their chosen software. We need producers to share the work [and] cover for each other.”
In 2014, the team at Ramsey Solutions recognized that while millions of people were tuning into The Dave Ramsey Show on terrestrial and satellite radio, listening habits were changing and the company needed to provide a friction-free experience for its audience.
“We see the value of diversifying and trying all of those things, because people have different touch points,” he says. “We’re [creating] life-change content. It’s empowering people to change their behavior [and] fill them with hope. So, we don’t want to just go off air. We think it’s important to show up daily, weekly.”
Today, some podcast content is first broadcast via radio, primarily The Dave Ramsey Show and The Ken Coleman Show, then uploaded to YouTube and audio streaming platforms. Each hour of The Dave Ramsey Show, for example, becomes an individual podcast episode, totaling 15 hours of new content each week.
The pandemic has also caused the podcast team to streamline and expand a process it established in 2015 when Ramsey Solutions published its first podcast. While most of the talent records through Sennheiser headset mics in the studio at the company headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee, the producers will often send a laptop-based mobile studio to high-profile guests instead of traveling or hiring a local tape syncher.
“We started sending a computer so we could control the quality of the audio,” he says. “And because we had control over that recording, the audience couldn’t tell [the difference]. We tested this out with EntreLeadership first, and the audience couldn’t tell if the person was in studio or not.”
Cieslewicz says they currently have a dozen mobile setups, each custom-built around a Microsoft tablet with a Neat Bumblebee desktop USB microphone and housed in a protective Pelican road case. When it’s time to record the segment, the remote guest logs onto the tablet and communicates with the producers and podcast host over SquadCast.
Financially, it makes sense over the long term for them to create these mobile studios they can deliver on demand, especially when gaining access to traditional recording studios can be unreliable and video conferencing platforms are dodgy. “When you get your huge, A-list celebrity you’ve been waiting to book,” he says, “you don’t want anything to go wrong.”
The next frontier for podcasts under the Ramsey Solutions umbrella is to expand its presence with video on YouTube, which commands a large share of podcast listeners. “Radio is crushing still,” he says. “It’s just [like] any audio product—it’s just exploding right now as people multitask. [But] it’s mind boggling how many people listen to podcasts on YouTube.”
The Dave Ramsey Show • www.daveramsey.com