Q&A: Under The Influence on podcasting, working with Acast, and a unique recording location

Q&A: Under The Influence on podcasting, working with Acast, and a unique recording location

Under The Influence is part of the Acast Creator Network


Under The Influence — a show from the Apostrophe Podcast Network — gives listeners a rare backstage pass into the hallways, boardrooms and recording studios of the ad industry. We get the lowdown from host and adman Terry O’Reilly, and hear more about his one-of-a-kind recording setup.

How did you get into podcasting?

It was back in 2011. We had been anxious to podcast since 2008, but we kept waiting for a music royalty agreement to be put into place. Copyright music was a big part of the sound of our show. 

By 2011, we got tired of waiting and decided to create two versions of our show — one for broadcast, and one for podcast, where we stripped out all the copyright music and replaced it with licensed tracks. 

We were one of the first CBC radio shows to podcast. We loved the freedom of podcasting — the new audience it attracted, the lack of time restraints, etc. We were able to put additional material into our podcasts. That experience would eventually lead to the creation of the Apostrophe Podcast Network.

What’s Under The Influence all about?

The elevator pitch: We give you a backstage pass to the closed world of advertising. 

The podcast takes you into the boardrooms and recording studios of the advertising industry. But this isn’t a show aimed at marketers — it’s aimed at the public. I spent nearly 35 years in advertising, so I have a first-hand, insider's take. 

It’s a show that tells interesting backstories about famous advertising campaigns, then explains how they influence your life. We talk about subjects like why the color blue is the most popular color in the world, how orange juice for breakfast was a marketing strategy to sell oranges, how Coca Cola was originally created as a substitute for morphine, how the original movie trailers were created to get people out of theaters, not into them, and so on. 

It’s the intersection of advertising and pop culture. And we do it all with a lot of humor.

Where did the idea for the show come from?

I began my ad career as a writer, then became a commercial director. For two decades, I directed over 500 commercials a year. That gave me a lot of experience. I co-founded a production company in Toronto and New York, and our clients were advertising agencies. 

Every year, I would rent a big theater and stage a “Creative Radio Day” where I would invite 200 young ad writers from across the country. I would get up on a stage for seven hours and teach them how to produce effective, creative radio commercials. 

One day, a friend of mine said my radio seminar would make a great radio show — which was surprising to me. But the idea stuck. So, on a whim in 2005, we decided to pitch the show idea to CBC. To our amazement, they bought it on the spot. That led to the podcast.

We hear you have a pretty unique recording setup — can you tell us more about it?

We record our show at home in a 1969 Airstream trailer.

We had moved out of the city to the country. But now we were two hours from a recording studio — and that meant four hours of driving on record day. Five years ago, my wife (and producer) came up with the idea to build a recording studio inside an Airstream. 

I have always loved Airstream trailers — the aluminum shine, the timeless shape. So we hunted for a 60s-era trailer, then got very lucky and found someone who not only restored Airstreams, but also built recording studios. It took one year to get the trailer back. Now we just walk out of our house and into our beautiful recording studio. 

The Airstream — or “Terstream” as a listener christened it — is also a big part of our branding.

What’s the best thing about recording out of your Airstream?

The mobility. We were able to take it with us between our home and our summer cottage. We are not tethered to one location. 

And the worst?

Chipping the ice away from the door on -30C winter days.

When did you first hear of Acast, and how did we come to work together?

When we were looking for a platform partner, we did our homework. We wanted to find a home for our podcast network that offered both distribution and a boots-on-the-ground sales team. 

We arranged conversations with a handful of companies, and the team at Acast took the most time with us, talked about helping us grow our audience, met with us in person (pre-pandemic) and made the biggest effort to land us. And that relationship has only become better and deeper over time. 

What does the future hold for your podcast?

We want to grow our audience in the US and abroad. Our podcast had seven million downloads last year, with one million coming internationally. The goal is to increase that.

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