Medic 2 Medic Podcast with Steve Cohen

Brian :   Welcome to another episode of I’d Podcast That. Today’s episode is the first interview that I did. We will be joined by Steve Cohen of Medic to Medic Podcast, as I asked him a few questions about his podcast journey.

So, let’s get to it – Steve Cohen.

What was the main reason you wanted to start Medic to Medic?

Steve:    Well, I started Medic to Medic Podcast because there’s tons of podcasts out there… but, I guess I’ll just start from the beginning.

I listened to a whole bunch of podcasts when I’m walking my dog, and in June of 2015, I decided that maybe I should start a podcast. Because I can ask questions. I like to talk. Then I said, nah, maybe I can’t do this. It seems kind of hard. And then I went back and forth with myself for a couple months. And decided that there’s a whole bunch of EMS podcasts out there, but they’re always topic base.

My rationale behind starting to make a better podcast is that, well, let’s talk to the people that are providing the care, innovators, leaders and let them tell their story. It’s totally different than a lot of the other podcasts that are out there. I kind of moved myself off of the NPR, you know, fresh air. Terry Gross talks to a lot of people and really gets into their stories.

Steve:    So, she’s one of my mentors, even though I’ve never met her. I’d love to meet her, but I listened to her podcast all the time. Then I decided, well, yeah, I can probably do this. It’s really easy to talk to people. I like to talk to people. I’m good at getting people to talk to me. And I said, okay, let me, let me see how I can do this. And I downloaded some free software on my iPad, no less. Right? And no computer, no software and I download some free software.

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Recorded off my first eight episodes – went up to Facebook and to Speaker. That became my platform with no editing, which was very scary. I have yet to go back and listen to them. But I’m sure they are pretty choppy. But that’s what it was. I didn’t really have a platform. Didn’t know anything about podcasting. So, I downloaded some free software. I asked one of my employees to come in and talk to me. And I just asked a few questions. And next thing you know, he was talking for 45 minutes, in between couple of questions for me. He told me his story. It was great.

I took the recording and just created a Facebook page and that’s my first platform. And the rest is kind of history. And I just did a little bit of research and look at platforms. I definitely wanted to get it on. I had a few objectives. The first objective was to start one, which I did. Two was to maybe get to a 10 – 20 episodes and then get Randolph Mantooth to come on the podcast.

Brian :   Were you able to achieve that last goal?

Steve:    I was and he was my 30th episode. It took a while to find a good contact for him, but I did. And once I did, a bunch of emails back and forth between him and his manager, who was actually his wife. We went back and forth, back and forth. I started that when I started my podcast and September, good emails back and forth, and then there was nothing.

And then out come January, we contacted them and she came and Kristen is her name and she came back and he said, yeah, how come on your podcast? He’ll give me 30 minutes. Just tell me the time and when. And that took another three months before we could get that.

He ended up giving me 53 minutes of air time, which 43 were aired, the other 10 were just him and I talking like you and I are talking. Which is just for me only and it was great. I sounded like a little girl. I was very excited. Because that’s how I started in an EMS. I’m in my 38th year and I watched Emergency and next thing, you know, I became a paramedic and my career ladder continued to grow and here I am now the chief of Cary Area EMS, for the last 17 years.

Brian:    That’s awesome. Did you happen to see on the news, they just opened a fire museum out here? And a lot of the cast from Emergency were actually there. They actually had some of the rigs they used.

Steve:    Yeah, somebody posted something on Facebook. I did. I saw both Kevin Tighe and Randolph Mantooth in the old squad 51 on some pictures, yeah. Next time I come out to California it would definitely be a stop for me.

Brian:    That’ll be cool. When you first started out, did you have a concept of who your listener was going to be or who you wanted your listener to be?

Steve:    Oh, that’s a great question. I really didn’t think about it. I really, I started for the providers versus the administration or leaders, because nobody ever really hear from the providers and let them tell their stories. So, I believe after thinking about it, my initial, probably, I didn’t care who came on. I didn’t care who my audience was, just want to see if I could do it. And then it grew. Yes. I just did some stats and over 53 percent of my listeners are EMS providers, at the field level, which is great,

Brian :   I spent a few years running rescue ambulance out here and in Los Angeles with Todd, that’s how Todd and I actually met. It’s an interesting industry to say the least.

Steve:    It is. It’s fun. It’s challenging because you just never know what the next call is going to be or what your day is going to be like. And you coming to work, check off your truck and you don’t know if we’re going to be upside down in a car. Or are you going to be on multiple shooting. Or are you just going to take care of that little old patient that is dizzy and doesn’t feel good. It just goes from one end to the other and it takes special people to do that and I wanted to tell their stories.

Brian:    What’s your biggest challenge when you’re getting ready to put an episode together?

Steve:    Another good question. The two biggest challenges I have… one is now trying to track down guests that come on. But that’s, to me that’s fun. I’ll read something on the internet or see something on an email post or Twitter and I say, well, that might be interesting.

For example, when there was a study that was out on Uber being faster than an ambulance. So, I tracked down the authors of that study, emailed them and they were able to come on and we talked about their study in Uber versus ambulance.

To me, that’s the fun part of it too. The toughest part for me is the editing. I just don’t like to edit. It’s a challenge because you want to sound well and you also want to make your guests sound well and that is just sometimes a challenge.

The other part is if the topic isn’t going the way you want it to go and the guests… like I’m giving you a nice long answers, but if I was giving you short answers, you’d have to be charming in a lot more. And that’s one thing I’ve learned is trying to pull out the some answers and monologues from my guests. That’s the tough part too, because they’ll just give you some short answers. And then if you’re not prepared, and that’s the other part… I am prepared, but most of my podcasts are off the cuff. I don’t have, I have some pre-planned questions, but for the most part it’s depending on what the guest is talking about and then I just dropped down a couple things and go from there.

Brian:    Yeah, I’m not a fan of written out questions for guests. You’ll see me looking off to the side, but I’ve got bullet points, topics I want to cover, but it’s, you know, one or two words and I love the back and forth. I love when it’s off the cuff because it’s just more conversational. It’s, I think it’s more entertaining to, to listeners. So, I agree with you there.

Steve:    I agree too. I read a lot about podcasting since. Since I’ve been doing this hasn’t been doing this for awhile. But the first thing I read was that the podcast is not about the host. It’s about the guest. And if I could make the guest feel comfortable and have them talk, then I’ve done my job. If I’m doing all the talking, then for me it’s not the best podcasts because I want them to talk. I want them to tell what they want to say, what their story is. It’s real.

It’s really interesting because you can just say, uh Brian, um, how’d you get started in EMS? And next thing you know, the person can talk for… you might talk for another 15 – 20 minutes or maybe not 15 – 20 minutes, but you might talk for another 7 or 8 minutes about, well, this is how I got involved. And I remember my first call and I remember the person who really influenced me to get into that. And I just sit back and record it.

Steve:    And it’s great. For me, the one on ones, and because I do a lot of my podcasts either by computer or by phone and the sound quality’s the other challenge for me. I want the sound to sound really good. And I guess I could invest in a little bit more software for that, I have not. But when I’m sitting across from somebody, it’s fun because I get to know when they’re going to pause. I know when to go to my next topic, whatever may be. And especially with somebody I know, we can have a good back and forth. And you’ll hear that on a whole bunch of my podcasts, people that have been in my office. My office is my studio. That’s what I call it. So, if you ever listen to my podcasts and people hear from the Cary Area EMS studios, that’s my office. The Raleigh Studios is my kitchen table.

Brian:    Nice. When it comes to finding guests, I want to see if your answer varies from my feelings. When you identify somebody you want to have on the show, do you enjoy that hunt? To get them to say yes more than the actual interview. And you find the interview kind of… Okay, I got that done and you’re onto the next hunt. Do you enjoy that chase?

Steve:    I do enjoy that chase. I think it’s fun because you get somebody that’s nationally known. And I’ve had some people that are nationally known. I’ve also gone after some people in Hollywood, that come on my podcast. I had the executive producer of I think it was a writer was, uh, he was actually a writer on ER, way back when, in the 90’s. Became the executive producer of Law and Order Special Victims Unit. And then he was also the show runner for Under the Dome, which was a CBS, a couple of years ago, summer show.

And I actually started because I was actually on vacation, I think in Calif… nah, maybe it was in California and I see that Dick Wolf just signed a new deal with Universal. And Universal went to the press release, left their, um, email address there. So, I emailed them and said, hey, I’d love to have Dick Wolf come on, talk about the Law and Order series. And told them about myself and this and that. And Wow. Actually within probably a half hour I got a response back, which really surprised me. And they said, well, he really doesn’t do podcasts. He doesn’t come on, and, but how would you like to talk to somebody, um, like, Dr Neal Baer, who was the executive at that time of Law and Order Special Victims Unit?

And he was a pediatrician and so I connected with him. He came on the podcast, told me this whole story and how he got involved in ER, which was, which my wife and I had a when, ER in Chicago. Yeah. Chicago hope came on and she likes Chicago. Hope I said to her is going to class some by millions. And they did. And so we talked about the ER, we talked about what George Clooney was like and then we talked about Law and Order and what was like going from being a pediatrician, uh, and writing scripts and so those things. Yeah. So to answer your question, long winded. Yeah, I love, I love the chase. And usually the podcasts really turn out the way I want them to. When I have a every once in a while. I mean you can’t have the greatest podcast, but sometimes guests are great, sometimes they’re not. And again, my goal is to make them sound great and that’s what I try to do. And all my episodes,

Brian:    Yeah, I enjoy the hunt myself. I have put together a pretty decent strategy, which seems to work well. But you know, everybody’s an individual case. Um, you referenced Raleigh. Are you referring to in North Carolina?

Steve:    Yes sir. I’m originally from Pittsburgh. And I moved down here 17 years ago, wanting to get away from the snow. Every winter here we’ve had some kind of ice or snow storm, but not as bad. What’s really good about our climate here is that it could snow three inches on Monday and be 75 degrees Friday.

Brian:    Right. When it comes to producing shows now with 150 plus, what do you find easy?

Steve:    Talking to the guest. I’ve gotten much better at talking to the guests. I really concentrated on my, ums and my you knows, and that it comes out, It comes out every once in a while. Especially when um, see here it goes another um. When there’s a long monologue and I’m talking like this, my ums will come out. I try to watch them in, you know, is a really decreased. They still, like I said, they still flare up every once in awhile.

Me talking to people now, it has been great because I talk to anybody. I’ve always been able to, but now I talked to people from all over the world. And that’s been fun too. When I talked to people from the Middle East, from Australia, from Israel, and that’s fun too. Just to have them come on the podcast and talk about their experiences there. So the easy talking to the guests. Uh, again, editing is still the worst part for me. I’m talking to the guest is the easiest.

Brian:    What, uh, what software are you using to edit?

Steve:    Uh, I’m using the free software. Can you take a guess?

Brian:    Probably a Audacity?

Steve:    There you go. Yeah, it works out well for me.

Brian:    It does.

Steve:    It’s free software. I know how it works. I can play around with a little bit. Speaker offers a platform too that you can record from. And you can add sound effects. You can add music to it, etc. I have my introduction… I had, um a person who came on my podcast and we talked about his career. And then he wanted to start a podcast, which he did. And I listened to his podcast and he had a great introduction, so I had him record my introduction, which I still use today.

Brian :   I’m using a Audacity and the funny thing is I have Audition and it’s on my to-do list to start utilizing Audition to learn Audition, but it’s a beast of a program. I’m pretty comfortable in the Adobe platform, but Audition is something, you know, I just don’t have zero experience with. So, my fallback is Audacity and I love it.

Brian:    And I actually went onto Fiverr and anybody that did editing in Audacity, I probably hit about five people up and I said, I want to send you a raw recording of me, Audacity project and I would like you to master the voice and send me a step by step instruction of what you did.

Brian:    And I finally had somebody that took me up on that offer and for $5 bucks, I got a to-do list to master my voice and you know, plus or minus a few points here or there. It seemed to work out well. It was a lot better than what I was doing because I’m not an audio guy, um, I’m behind the scenes guy. But that plan worked out well. But Audacity is a great program. It really is.

Brian:    When it comes to learning podcasting, what resource or resources did you find most beneficial when you were getting started?

Steve:    Uh, talking to other podcasters is one. I know some really good forums out there and, then I read a couple books, the Idiots for Podcasts and a lot of it’s been self-taught. I listen to other peoples and how they ask questions and I kind of tried to mimic some of that and learn from them.

Steve:    I haven’t read very much lately about podcasting. Uh, I’m not sure where my podcast is going to go after the next six months or not. I just don’t know. I need a break from recording and editing and doing that. I haven’t really scheduled any podcasts.

Steve:    I don’t, I don’t read a lot anymore on Facebook EMS podcasts started by Ginger Lock. Ginger’s started Medic Mindset and she is very good at what she does. She’s a very good interviewer. She’s very knowledgeable. She’s a professor at the community college in Austin, Texas.

Brian :   Did you refer or seek out anybody to help you with the management or promotion or marketing of a podcast? Were there any resources in that realm?

Steve:    I have and everybody wants money. And nobody’s willing to give free advice, which is kind of interesting, Which I’m willing to give out all kinds of advice if I had, if people want to take it. Uh, I did reach out to some platforms and talk about it. I even talked to some and to JEMS about advertising a little bit. And they’re not willing to give to anybody break.

Steve:    I’m not going to spend $3,000 or $4,000. I don’t have a sponsor. I’m by myself. I am the host producer, producer. I’m the green room. I am the person who has to chase… I’m the gopher. I don’t have a budget. If I had a budget and had money coming in, it might be a little bit different. My son helped me out. My son is in public relations and my is also very social media savvy and I don’t have to pay them anything, which has been pretty good, but they’ve been very helpful.

Steve:    Everybody I wanted to seek out, they want… they’ll give me a couple minutes and then they want x amount of money. I did reach out to, there’s a podcast called oh God what’s his…. uh its Barry Katz. She’s a Hollywood agent and manager, who I really liked and I liked his podcast. And I was able to reach out to him and see if he would be willing to talk to me about it and he wanted $250 an hour.

Steve:    Now it’s a struggle. I don’t have the budget. And also having really tried to monetize this, as a lot of people try to do. And maybe that’s my fault. But I’m doing it for… it’s a project. It’s a fun project. I think when it becomes a job, I don’t want to do it anymore. Now if somebody would come to me and want to sponsor… now my wife who’s in real estate has sponsored a couple episodes.

Steve:    Ah, reason why is because she takes care of some of my advertising, I’ve got mugs I send to my guests. And so she takes care of that and so she advertised. My brother who’s in Pittsburgh owns a deli. He gave me $50 bucks to advertise, you know. So, that’s my monetizing.

Steve:    I don’t have time to reach out to advertisers, but when I did reach out the JEMS and, which I both had both of their editors on my podcast twice, one in round table and both individually. They’re not going to give me a break. Now, I can write a blog. I do write a blog every once in a while. that’s on Fire EMS blogs that’s by Penwell and JEMS. And they’ve been very nice about every once in a while tweeting out my podcast, which is great. So the more people that tweeted out and get to it, it’s fine with me. So, I had not reached out to a lot of people for advertising.

Brian :   Do you think you accomplished your number one goal, since you set out? Since you started?

Steve:    Uh, yes I did. One was to start the podcast, that was my objective, I did that. Two is to get the 50 episodes, that was number two. Three was… actually number two was to get Randolph Mantooth. Three was to get to, uh, 50 episodes. So, I made those objectives. And then when I got the 50 episodes, can I get to 100? I said, yeah, maybe I can get to 100, and I did. That’s how I look at my… I have accomplished everything I wanted to do for this podcast.

Steve:    Now, how far I can go. I don’t know. I think I’m pretty consistent to have 153 episodes. I do have a loyal following and I appreciate everybody who reaches out to me and says, hey, I like your podcast. Every once in a while… I got a comment last week from somebody who listened to Randolph Mantooth, believe it or not, and said, I can’t believe it. This was a great podcast. Thank you very much for doing it. I like that.

Steve:    I think one of the other challenges is getting feedback. I don’t get a lot, I don’t get enough feedback from my listeners or comments, I wish I did, both good or bad, I can take it. And know where I need to improve, But people don’t take the time to do that.

Steve:    And I also understand… the other lesson I’ve learned is anything over 35 minutes, people are already turned off. Um, I know that from my, from my stats. And for the most part, if you do some podcast research, most people are listening to it while they’re driving to work or home from work, and that’s usually 15 to 20 minutes. Is there anything over 30 minutes for me, sometimes is a tough. Depending on who the guest is, we’ll go on. But for the most part I know that people listen to an average about 27 minutes to my podcast.

Brian :   Yeah. So if you’re in LA that’s skewed a little bit because the average drive time in LA is a lot longer than 20 minutes. I can, attest to that.

Steve:    That is correct. You’re right. I like that. Well then I probably have a little longer listenership.

Brian :   You need to focus your attention on the west coast, the big cities, New York, Chicago. That’s funny. listen, I appreciate you coming on the show and I want to thank you for being an ems for as long as you have in serving the communities in which you serve. It’s, it’s a thankless job the majority of the time.

You know, the weird thing is I always tell this story. Ninety nine percent of my patients never thanked me. The one percent that did was usually an IFT when I was taking somebody home to pass to be with their family and that was a more uncomfortable call for me then, you know, jamming into a nine one one (911) scene because it’s just, it was uncomfortable for me. I know I’m taking this individual away from a hospital or care facility home to die. And those families were always the most grateful that that will always stick with me,

Steve:    Well I will say that they come and go. We go through a period here in our organization where we get a lot of attaboys from families and then go through a period where we don’t get any anything. Uh, I was on a call yesterday, I still go out and run calls. It’s one of the best things I do because it gets me out of my office. I still love talking to patients and still love taking care of patients. They’re challenging and every once in a while it’s nice to the family comes up to you, so thank you very much for taking care of me or my loved one and that happened to me. So it does happen every once in a while.

Brian :   Awesome. That’s really cool.

Steve:    What made you start your podcast?

Brian:    I realized… Todd, I got started and I’m again, the guy on the back end. Um, making sure socials out, blog posts or written. Todd handles the transcription, the audio recording, all of that. And I kind of take the pieces and put it together. And then push it out. And more and more people started coming up to me going, hey, how do I get started? Hey, where do I get started? And in today’s time, it’s a little mind boggling to me because a quick google search, you can find people like Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, who have free guides… download this guide. The… I don’t want to say the light bulb went off, but I had the thought that they don’t speak to everybody. And it’s funny, one of my suppliers… I do sales, um, in a couple areas.

Brian :   I’m known as the “Angry Marine” when I go there to handle business. And a lot of these people are nice, accommodating – kit glove. And in talking to a few of the people that I speak to, they need direction and leadership and deadlines. And not necessarily, well, this is how you do it. Come over here. I’ll show you and this this joyful way.

Brian:    So, I kind of married the “Angry Marine” mentality with answering these people’s questions and they reacted to it. So, in my mind I said, well, hey, if I can, you know, set the foundation and educate people in my way, it’s going to speak to a percentage of that audience and it might help produce a good quality show at some point in time, but by them. So…

Steve:    Yeah. Interesting. Very good. Well, I wish you luck in anything else. I can help you with, you just let me know.

Brian :   I want to thank everybody for listening today and uh, and links to Steve’s podcast and other pertinent information discussed on this episode will be in the show notes. You can find them at Until next time, talk soon.





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