A talk with the Host of EM Weekly, Todd DeVoe

Announcer:         Welcome to, I’d podcast that,

Brian:    So today we have Todd DeVoe on I’d Podcast That, I’d like to introduce Todd as being a longtime friend I’ve mentioned before, 20 plus years and in addition to that, we’re in the Brotherhood of the green side of the Marine Corps, him having been a navy corpsman and me obviously serving in the core itself, so we have a lot of common interests, common experiences and I consider Todd a Brother.

Brian:    So welcome to the show Todd.

Todd:     My pleasure.

Brian:    So, I wanted to bring you on here, you actually my second guest, however, I’ve been working with you on EM Weekly since its conception and why don’t you share the story of how EM Weekly got started with the listeners.

Todd:     Sure, that’s one of the questions that people ask a lot of how did you get started in doing the podcast? And I went from teaching in a classroom class to an online class and I really thought I lost a lot of the interaction that I had with my students. And so I started kind of playing around with bringing guests into the classroom by recording people’s conversations. Like I, I’m like a little audio recorder, your handheld recorder and it wasn’t that great and I just never really used it. And then Brian and I sort of converse there about this and just if you guys been to podcasts, you realize that he’s a pretty techie guy during the conversation. He goes, well, you know, why don’t you start recording and, and bringing it in as, as a podcast.

Todd:     And, oddly enough in, in the new system that we went to, we had a podcast button and you’re putting podcasts in or you can record like little vignettes and things like this to put onto your classroom to make it more interactive I suppose.

Todd:     And this was about December of 2016 and having this conversation about doing this and it kind of doing it right, and Brian’s been tooling around with, playing with podcast type stuff. And so after a few conversations kind of spinning it up, listening, I’m thinking about it. I decided what along with Brian to, to jump into recording podcasts and not just doing it for the students but bringing it to the emergency management world as a whole.

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Todd:     I really thought that I was going to have, you know, 10, 15 listeners maybe, and then I would just still use it for my classroom. And Lo and behold, it became pretty successful in its own right. It really came to play when I, to the International Association of Emergency Managers Conference in Long Beach when people started coming up to me and saying, Hey, I listened to your show and I’m getting a lot out of it. And that was when I kind of looked and said, wow, this is actually a successful show. So that’s kind of.

Brian:    I want to jump in here real quick.

Brian:    Todd and I go way back. We met running rescue ambulance. We realized each other were vets. We’ve got this, this brother type relationship where, you know, if we worked or lived near each other, we’d probably be on the front lawn wrestling half the time because I’m kind of childish.

Brian:    So I’m watching people walk up and they’re like vying for his attention because we are at a convention and we’re conversing constantly and, and they finally get their opportunity to, to talk to Todd. And the first things out of their mouth is, I listened to your show and I’m watching his head swell and I can physically see Toss’s, grape getting bigger and bigger. And it was A, cool to see cool to see that because the emergency management community, in my opinion, is undeserved. I think that this community clicks off. They’re concerned with their immediate surrounding cities, the county, a neighboring county if it’s close enough to impact. But then on the flip side of that coin, it’s a community that communicates really, really well because communication is such a big part of emergency management.

Brian:    What do you think Todd?

Todd:     Emergency Management has as much as everybody’s worried about their corner of the world, which is true because at the end of the day, that’s what they get paid to do. But they’re very collaborative in nature. I think people who go into the merchant management, it’s not about taking credit for things. It’s not about, this is my football and I’m going home. You ask questions and you ask for, for help and it’s going to come. There’s a list-serve that I belong to. It’s called DRU this disaster resilient universities and it’s out of a University of Oregon, runs it and on there you ask one question like, Hey, do you have a plan for stadiums? And you’ll have 100 answers with plans in the link so you could start someplace that says starting at a white page and the last, you know, lessons learned and best practices from people who learned the hard way so you don’t make those same mistakes.

Todd:     So I think in general we’re pretty collaborative and I think that’s part of the success for, for EM Weekly is that people want to learn from others and people want to share and so much so that I was able to get some, for lack of better term rock-stars in emergency management on the show. Fairly easy, just by asking to come on. And like, that was sort of like my hang-up at first, like trying to get guests on the show. I was like, Oh, you know who’s going to come to this unknown podcast? Who’s going to come and like big name wise and come onto the show and talk to this guy who they don’t know and it’s weird, you ask and they came. I got authors to come on the show like big authors, not, you know, not Todd to those who wrote a book, you know, and as a self-published talking guys have written four or five books and been on New York Times bestseller list and had a directors of documentaries come on the show and, and it’s, it’s great.

Todd:     And you just asked him to come and talk about what they’re doing. And my only rule on that is a half to have a nexus to emergency management. So I’m not going to bring on a, you know, I don’t know an author of the Christmas Story just because I think it’s a good book. You know, I’m going to bring an author on that specifically talks about things that we’re doing in emergency management and it doesn’t have to be true stories. I have a, we have a fictional author that came on that his book is really big in emergency management circles because he kind of gets it.

Todd:     It’s about an EMP Strike.

Brian:    Please drop the title and author name.

Todd:     Oh, sure. Yeah. It’s called a one second after, by William Forschem. He came on the show. Great Book if you like, that type of stuff. It’s a really have to be an emergency manager. Enjoy it. If you like an action book. It’s a good book.

Brian:    I’m a guy that doesn’t like fiction, at all, I always say read and I’ll be honest, I listened too via audible all of his books and they’re great stories. So yes, you do not have to be an EM to dig what he’s writing.

Brian:    So what was a few of the challenges you had when you were first getting started with podcasting?

Todd:     Well, Me! My nervousness of being on a recording, you know? I didn’t have the confidence. I wasn’t sure I had the confidence to speak in front of thousands of people. Literally, I’ve done it for something to be behind a microphone and talk to somebody on the phone or, or, or recording my voice I suppose was different. So that was really my first hurdle was to get over the mic fright I guess.

Todd:     And the just some of the technical stuff, you know, working through what it is to record your voice and then to make it so it sounds good and then make it so it goes up into the, into the cloud, into the server who’s hosted our, our show and then you know, getting people to listen and then transcription. It’s still, it’s still a problem for us for me is transcriptions. I just, it’s one of the things I keep struggling with and we have different, different solutions to it, but it comes down to you need to really read them in and edit them yourself and go through. I mean, I don’t think there’s a, an easy way around that problem.

Todd:     Realistically, you know, getting them, getting the word out. It’s not just you build it and they’ll come. I mean there’s some marketing, you have to do, and your self-promotion and it sounds, it sounds funny, Brian was telling me about having a head earlier. I don’t think I don’t do self-promotion very well and, and that’s one of the issues too, is I don’t like to talk about myself. I’d rather talk about the guests.

Todd:     I think that’s one of the reasons why I love having guests on the show because they can talk about them and what they’ve done and it’s not about Todd, it’s about learning from the guests. And I think that’s, those are kind of like a big, big hurdle I have.

Todd:     You know, one of the things too, I mean obviously the transcriptions, to be honest with you, this has been our area of most complaint I guess for lack of a better term, you know, where we’ve had people actually email us and say, hey, you know, you suck, you know, fix this.

Todd:     And, it’s a friend that is doing this. It’s not, it’s not strangers, you know, so it’s, it’s even more impactful. So for people to call it, we’d say we actually, and this is kind of embarrassing, I want to go back a little bit.

Todd:     We actually had a guest who is a professor and as I said, I teach as well, so I’m held to a little bit higher standard by my colleagues. And she basically just said, hey, let, let me fix this transcript for you. And she fixed her own show and it was truly embarrassing. And that being said, you got to have thick skin number one. And then number two, you have to have, be humble enough to take correction and say, Yep, you know, my mistake, my bad own it, and they’ll give you. They’ll be forgiving. People will be forgiven or not going to hold you and say, Oh, you’re, you’re terrible. And everybody listened to you. But the, they will, they will correct you and take that correction, not as a negative, but take it as a growth and the learning experience because that’s why I take it.

Brian:    Every time we got a complaint. We would change course a little bit to try to make it better. To try to create a better product and that didn’t quite work. So we changed, you know, let’s turn right a little bit here and that didn’t quite work. And we finally come to the conclusion that whoever is recording the show, in this case, I am going to transcribe this show and Todd is going to transcribe it, or I should or shouldn’t say transcribed, review the transcriptions, make corrections before the transcription goes to publish.

Todd:     I’m reading a book right now by James Clear and it’s called Atomic Habits. And I found him from another podcast and I guess he had his own podcast as well. Atomic Habits is a really interesting book about habits, right? And the reason why I call it atomic habits is it’s for a couple things. One is making minute small changes in your, in your day, right? So large changes are easier to do. And then also the fact that the atomic or the Adam is also the most powerful thing that could come around and think about the atom bomb. Right? So, so he talks about this, a concept of one percent better each day or one percent better every time you do something as far as like maybe the podcast or always growing and taking that idea here and, Brian has also said this also is always growing, always changing, always, being better.

Todd:     And sometimes you go, Ooh, what’s that mean? What does that, how does, how does it be better? And in our case with the transcriptions, it was so just taken the, what we thought was a human doing our, our transcriptions and as opposed to know that we sort of reviewing them and then we went from there to, okay, let’s do it ourselves completely and using a transcription service and then using that and then now of just taking that for face value, going over and reviewing those again. And it’s, yeah, it doesn’t take a little bit more time than just posting it. It does. But that will also save you though for that embarrassment of spelling somebody’s name wrong or saying LARK and instead of LART, you know, things like that. I think it’s worth it. So taking that one percent better every single time you do something and eventually, I don’t think you’ll ever get perfect, but you’ll get to better and being a better you is what this is all about, right?

Brian:    The one thing that has been hard for me, because I work at a computer all day. I have two monitors up. If I’m doing just mind-numbing work, I have a video playing or audio playing of some sort, whether it be a book or a podcast that I listened to and I work. And the hardest thing for me to discipline myself to do is to remove distractions when it’s time to deal with a podcast. And that’s recording a show, that’s editing the audio, that reviewing the transcription you can’t have, I can’t have an audible distraction at all. I need to be in a quiet, calm place to do a good job. What do you think?

Todd:     Oh No, I agree totally. And I know I have two kids and a wife that are here at the house when I’m doing my recording and not the, I’ll say train them. It sounds terrible, but they understand that what I’m in here doing something that I’m working that they are not going to come to my office there. I can knock on the door. I tell them though, I said looking at, we’re recording, you know, and they know. Okay, cool. And when I come out and I’m done. Um, and uh, yeah, it’s important to have your family on board and if you can’t, if you can’t have that, if it’s, if you can’t get to the point to where you know, you have that support because I’m sure you have the support, but if you don’t, if you can’t get a quiet house, if you live in an apartment complex or if you are a place where you can’t get into a quiet zone, go find a place.

Todd: There are places that you can, studios you can rent for very inexpensive for just for a few hours or whatever and record there and he could always come back and edit elsewhere. But just find that quiet place to record. And I think that you’ll be much happier with the product that you produce.

Brian:    With EM Weekly, What’s been the most satisfying or gratifying thing that you’ve accomplished with the show?

Todd:     Wow, that’s a deep question, dude.

Todd:     I want to have to say that it’s the contacts that I’ve made with the people in my group. We have a Facebook group that you have to be an emergency manager and we let you in and you know, people will contact you separately like PM and talk to you about issues and asking you for your opinion. And I think that’s, again, it’s humbling as far as I’m concerned that people actually reach out and go, Hey, what do you think of this? And you go, wow, this is kind of cool.

Todd:     And, and, uh, I think it’s those connections and again, going to the conferences and finding people who know you from the show and that you become friendly with and friends if you will, who come over and say, hey, you know, good show or this or whatever. And they’re able to feel comfortable to talk to you, you know, and I think that’s really kind of cool. And those are things that part of it was very satisfying, uh, on the, on that part of it.

Todd:     Professionally speaking, oddly enough, because of the show, I actually have received a teaching job, at the University of California Irvine, a to teach there as well because the person who listened to the show contacted me and said, we’d love to have you come teach here. I thought that was really kind of cool

Speaker 1:           Back to the conference in Long Beach. A little over a year ago. I finally get Todd away from the masses and we’re sitting down at a, at a 12 top round table. It’s lunchtime and we’re eating, you know, the little-boxed sandwich launching

Speaker 1:           Again. It was a 12 top and there might’ve been five, six people sitting at it. So there’s plenty of room and this guy walks over and he says, Hey, do you mind if I join you? I sure sit down, have a seat. You don’t, we’re, we’re trying to eat quickly. It’s a convention. We want to maximize time on the floor.

Brian:    He sets his stuff down. He kind of like, looks up and I’m watching him because he just sat down and he’s like, uh, I listened to your show. Like, Oh God, here we go. Add a Todd’s. Todd’s very gracious. Oh, that’s very cool. Thank you. And I go, so, well, what do you do? And which was the stupid question? You’re at an emergency management conference, but that’s Brian. And he says, Oh, I’m an emergency manager. And Todd jumps in and says, oh, we’re at.

Brian:    He goes, Montana.

Brian:    So this guy was the the emergency manager for the state of Montana and was excited to sit with, Todd because Todd does his podcast and I look over at Todd and his head gets a little bit bigger. But um, it was really cool to see those interactions and to see this guy that I’ve drunk beer with and I mean we, Todd and I’ve done a lot together and for each other. And it was really cool to see this, I can’t even call it a transformation, but this, this light that people are looking at Todd width. And I think it’s really cool man. And you’re doing a killer job with the show. The numbers are better and better every year.

Todd:     We added pretty early on, I want to say third or fourth show, somewhere down that line of asking what book that the guest recommends. And because of that, one of our listeners who works for FEMA started the emergency management booklist recommended book list for FEMA. So if you go to the FEMA website, you’ll find the book list and that was started because one of the listeners, um, thought that was a great idea and stolen and nobody saw it and went with it. And now FEMA has an emergency management recommended book list.

Brian:    So the federal government’s listening to EM Weekly and every time we recommend a new bug, they’re adding it to their list. Is that what you’re telling me?

Todd:     Pretty much. Pretty close to it. You

Brian:    You talked earlier about the rock-stars of Emergency Management and um, I’m pretty sure that if I’m wrong, listeners, please correct me. Email me, Brian@Idpodcastthat.com and correct me and I will read your correction on the next episode. Can any of the listeners name a Rock-star in emergency management? And Todd, that question to you, you had rock-stars of emergency management on your show. Who are they? What do they do?

Todd:     Sure. So the first one was I had Craig Fugate in the Obama administration, the FEMA administrator. And here’s the first one. I reached out to guys who other people reach out to a lot. You know, he’s now one of the newer artificial intelligent agencies that just started up. He is the emergency manager for them globally, so he travels around the world, to help implement and use artificial intelligence in emergency management as Craig Fugate.

Todd:     And then I had this kind of Eric Holder on as well from Seattle. He was the, EM up there for the stair Washington for a very long time and he’s written a grip load of books on emergency management. He’s a writer for one of the magazines right now. He teaches a lot of stuff. A lot of the stuff that he creates has been implemented worldwide as well. He was the emergency manager during the World Trade Organization riots that happened in Seattle on know if you guys remember those or not, but it was pretty one of the first large riots that we’ve had in the country since the sixties. He was the EM for that event and then, uh, I had on the show as well as the current administrator, a Brock Long and again, he’s the administrator for FEMA. He is the top 10 in the nation has been on the show.

Todd:     I’m trying to think a couple others.

Brian:    You’ve had quite the list, these people on the show and I’m a firm believer that people want to help. People don’t want to say no and it’s fairly easy once you have contact information for somebody to get them to come on your show. I’m assuming you’ve sent one email, hey, I’d like you to be on my show. And people said yes. Would that be a true statement?

Todd:     I use LinkedIn like crazy and it’s amazing how you just say, Hey, this is what I do with love to have you on the show and they say yes.

Brian:    Now for a guest that you had on your show, how many contact attempts did you have to make to finally get somebody to come onto the shell? What’s the worst case scenario?

Todd:     Vast majority. I haven’t had to beg anybody to come on the show. I had a couple people who said they wanted to be on the show and then just due to scheduling issues, they just, I couldn’t get them on and that’s, that’s been an issue. I’ve had maybe two or three people that said no, but graciously said no. They weren’t like, I don’t listen to. They were like no’s because they were estate agency people and you know, there are a PIO        wouldn’t lend through or the legal wouldn’t let him come on and things like that. It is at that point it is what it is, but no one has ever said, no, I hate you. I’m not going to show, you know, it’s never been like that

Brian:    What’s one thing you know now having 91 episodes under your belt. Am I correct, 91?

Todd:     Yeah. Ninety-one, 91 published episodes.

Brian:    So knowing what you know now, after 91 episodes, what one thing do you wish you would’ve known, Day One?

Todd:     How Fun it is. This is fun. I was so nervous going into it. I think I made the first say six to 10 episodes really for me. I go back and listen to them. Very clunky, you know, I think just to relax and enjoy the conversation and that’s what it is at the end of the day. So the conversation between two people and I think that if I if I did that, I think I would have been much better. Uh, starting off.

Brian:    Is there an end in the near future?

Todd:     No.

Brian:    You’re going to keep rolling?

Todd:     Yes.

Brian:    How many shows do you have? Recorded but not yet published.

Todd:     I am recorded in the first month of the second quarter of 2019.

Brian:    That’s awesome. So you’re, you’re getting them done canning them allowing time for a sick, weak or a vacation and not having to worry about getting an episode out.

Todd:     Yeah. And they’ll be scheduled here shortly. The cool part about that too is as you can move them around, sometimes you talk about something that’s a little bit more pressing and then you can move things around so it’s not like once you record them they have to be done in that order, you know. So.

Brian:    What tools or technologies are you using to make life easier?

Todd:     Well, keep always upgrading stuff. And uh, I’m a, I’m a gear junkie anyway, so if you’re a gear junkie and this is the thing that you’re, you’re, you’re going to, you’re going to love it and there’s always the next greatest `and have to remind myself that I can stick with what I have. Let me go back from the beginning. So originally, I started recording into audacity from just the phone line, basically a Skype. I like some, sorry, I was using skype into audacity, Pamela as well. Those are the software they use. And then I just didn’t like the way it came out. It was always something that was just different about it. It sounded tinny. Brian and I had a long conversation about trying to fix things and then I found the zoom HN six actually, I think it is a big one.

Todd:     I thought that was way too big. I’m like, you know what, I’m going to start smaller. I went with a zoom each and four and that was really cool. The cool part about it too is compact and portable and you can take it with you and record things and kind of do field interviews and things like this. And they used it at the IFM conference. If you listen to the sounds of IAME, that was all recorded by the handheld an HN4. And then microphones always increasing the microphones. So, um, I use the audio pack a microphone and I think it’s a really a great microphone. And then I use the Yamaha now soundboard the mg 10 XG, which I’m just now really kind of get into and learning that. And there’s a little bit of a learning curve on it. There’s a little bit of an issue and I’m still trying to figure it out. I think it’s the computer, to be honest with you, but of the sound dropping every once in a while and I’ve been trying to figure that out, but I don’t think it’s the Yamaha think it’s the computer and I have an older computer so I’m in the mix of trying to find that.

Todd:     And then they have the h n five, now I’m handheld as well and that one and again is really good quality, like a hook, lavaliere mics up to that and all my ex and also has a microphone on top of it and that’s a really good handheld as well. And then I also have the audio tech, a headset professional headset that I use and that’s the same one that you’ll see news broadcasters use or like when are at the holiday parades this holiday or the sportscasters when they’re at the Superbowl. Those type of headphones with the boom mic on it and that’s what I’m using for my technology right now.

Brian:    If you met someday today and they were going to start a Podcast are two pieces of advice you’d give them?

Todd:     Good question.

Todd:     Well, I think one is like I said before, have fun with it, enjoy it, don’t make me get a job and enjoy that conversation that you’re having and learned from people that you’re speaking to. Go into that with an open mind when you’re, when you’re interviewing people, if you’re doing, if you’re not doing an interview show, have fun with the show and pretend that you’re talking to somebody in the room, you know, and enjoy that as well and enjoy the interaction that you’re going to have with people and learn from others. I think that’s, that’s one piece of advice right there. Sounds like a lot, but those are really just one.

Todd:     And then the other one is, is start simple. You don’t have to start with a whole bunch of crazy equipment. I mean, there’s stuff out there can use your smartphone to record on with some inexpensive microphones.

Speaker 2:           You don’t have to go out with all the stuff that we’re doing here. I mean, I have just been a time that I built up my little arsenal here, Obviously. Start simple, you know, and once you get you, you know, once you get used to it, then you can build the next thing and build the next thing. As I said, I’m a gear junkie anyway, so for me it’s, some of it’s a want to have, some it’s a need. It’s a need and a want so you don’t have to be as big, you can be as small as you want to be in and still have good quality sound. And so that’s, that’s pretty much it right there.

Brian:    Have you interviewed your wife yet?

Todd:     No, I have not interviewed my wife, I have interviewed my daughter. She’s five

Brian:    Stay hydrated.

Brian:    Awesome man. Where can people find you and EM Weekly?

Todd:     Sure. There’s a couple of different places, um, for our website to start with, which is www.weekly.com. And you can find this on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, my space. No, just joking.

Brian:    And our email address is @aol.com.

Todd:     You’ve got mail.

Brian:    Hey brother, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing some of these tidbits with the listeners of I’d Podcast That, if anybody has questions for Todd, you can find him at todd@emweekly.com.

Todd:     I’d love to hear from you guys for having me on.

Brian:    I appreciate it.