Since Music Connection magazine began publishing, the media landscape has changed in many ways, one being the creation of podcasts. Although MC has maintained a website and weekly newsletter for years, it wasn’t until 2017 that MC began producing their Internet-only radio program. Just recently The Music Connection Podcast logged its milestone 52nd episode.
The show’s inception came about via co-host Arnie Wohl, who attended a music convention run by his friend, Allaccess.com owner Joel Denver. Denver’s suggestion that they launch a podcast was bolstered by the news that Rolling Stone was doing the same. Wohl, who once toiled for the magazine’s marketing and sales department, spoke with publisher Eric Bettelli about his proposal over lunch.
Beyond offering his wisdom gleaned from years of experience working management and promotion for megastars like Paula Abdul, The Rolling Stones and Coldplay, Wohl brought along his wife, former Detroit radio deejay Randy Thomas. Thomas, who championed Hall & Oates before most people knew who they were, shattered the glass ceiling in the world of voice-over artistry, handling duties for the Academy Awards and the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame. This year, she celebrated 20 years of narration for the Tony Awards.
Many episodes feature the participation of Senior Editor Mark Nardone. More recently, rock historian Anita Gevinson has been added as a correspondent. (Be certain to check out her autobiography, You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio… My Wild Rock ‘N Roll Life.) Wohl and Thomas’ daughter, Rachel Wohl, has also contributed and voice-over artist Carson Beck serves as announcer. Each episode is lovingly edited by Bobby Sheldon. Released every Wednesday on PodcastOne, it can also be accessed via iTunes and PlayerFM.
The magazine’s long-cultivated pedigree has earned it the ability to entice a wide swath of notables, including super-producer Don Was, Hall & Oates, composer Jan Hammer, American Idol judge Randy Jackson and megahit songwriter Diane Warren. They’ve also spotlighted a heap of rising stars, such as Mondo Cozmo, Vance Joy, Ty Dolla $ign, James Bay, Shelita Burke and Greta Van Fleet. Other notable newbies include King Leg and X Ambassadors. The two Burke episodes alone were both downloaded more than 120,000 times each. The hosts hope to welcome the singer back to debut some of her new material.
The show regularly receives pitches from publicists and managers. Not everyone makes the cut. “We look for someone who has a story that’s intriguing or just needs to be shared,” explains Thomas. “We’re all about the story.”
Besides discussions with the creators themselves and the occasional in-studio performance (something they hope to expand upon), the podcast brings the mag’s trademark advice features, like the Tip Jar, to the audio format. One Tip Jar welcomed Debi Derryberry, the voice-over artist who brought Jimmy Neutron to life, in order to shed light on the inherent ability of singers to create great character voices. The inaugural episode included a story by the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl about the making of their latest album, Concrete & Gold, complete with sound effects.
Wohl and Thomas appreciate the freedom afforded by podcasting. Episodes can be any length, leaving the duo to focus on creating the best show possible. “We just sit down and talk,” notes Wohl. “There are no restrictions, so the F-bombs sometimes come up and it’s okay.” Wohl reflects on the time Ty Dolla $ign pulled out a joint in the middle of an interview. “He starts smoking and says, hey, man, you want a hit?” Thomas, who spent years being directed on what to spin from radio executives, loves her newfound flexibility. “It takes me back to my musical roots,” she grins, “sitting behind a microphone talking to people. It feels very homey and comfortable.”
Fans can also witness the discussion in video form. Recently, they’ve begun incorporating Facebook Live streams, affording them a whole new level of interactivity with their audience. The new studio Thomas has built will improve audio quality and the comfortability factor for guests and hosts alike. To date, the MC podcast as amassed more than 350,000 listeners, but Wohl believes that number will shortly skyrocket.
“I’m always finding new music,” enthuses Thomas. “It’s such an exciting place to be, sharing these artists.” She pauses, contemplating the nature of existing amid a sea of endless entertainment options. “Finding a great podcast is like finding a great craft beer. There are so many––how do you find one? We’re hoping that the artists themselves will turn people on to the podcast by getting their fans to come and sample it. And some of them will stay and keep listening.”