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From a strip club DJ to a king of podcasts

In the first episode, we are talking with Ralph Sutton. He’s the founder of Gas Digital Network – a podcast platform with over 25 shows.

Ep 1: From a strip club DJ to a King of Podcasts – Ralph Sutton - graphic1

Episode 1: From a strip club DJ to a King of Podcasts, with Ralph Sutton, Founder at GaS Digital Network 

In the first episode, thanks to Ralph Sutton, we had a chance to dive into the podcast world and absorb his knowledge in this area. During our conversation, he told us about his path (slightly unorthodox) that has led him to where he is now. Ralph and his team recently managed to take advantage of the pandemic and grew his business throughout the crisis despite the challenges it created. We also discussed the technical aspects of running his company, and 2021 need to exist online. Listen to the podcast to find out how they did it!

First episode in a nutshell:

  • Ralph’s professional journey
  • The story and mission behind the Gas Digital Network
  • The culture of podcasting vs. the radio
  • The technology challenges of the transition to remote as a result of the pandemic
  • A dedicated app – does a podcast network need it and why
  • The model of hiring external teams or a vendor from a different continent

About Ralph

Many can call him the ‘King of Podcasts.’ Ralph Sutton is an NYC-based entrepreneur and the Gas Digital Network co-owner, a podcast network with over 25 shows, including the SDR (Sex, Drugs, and Rock’n’roll) Show, which he co-hosts with the renowned Big Jay Okerson. He brings more than two decades of experience in radio and entertainment. No wonder his radio voice attracts the audience on his social media profiles, too.

Recently, we also asked him a few questions to get to know him better – read it here.

Click here to find the full list of our episodes 📋

Intro 0:00
Welcome to the how we innovate podcast presented by Applandeo hosted by me, Wiola and my co host, Bryan, on this podcast, we talk with leading innovators, pull back the curtain on their industry, and get to know how they use technology to achieve success, as well as share the stories behind them and their businesses.

Host – Bryan 0:22
All right, welcome to the first episode of the ‘How We Innovate’ podcast and with us for our very first intricate guest is the King of the Podcast himself, a co-owner of GaS Digital Network, and also co-host of Sex, Drugs and Rock’n’roll – Ralph Sutton, how are you today?

Guest – Ralph 0:37
Good. You know what’s funny, first of all, thank you for the intro. But secondly, I’ve been referred to a few times by different people as the king of podcasting. And while I hate that term, I do like that I am going to be considered royalty. So both. It’s I’m not sure how I feel about the term I just like being referred to as royalty.

Host – Bryan 0:53
How about the prince? Or the Duke?

Guest – Ralph 0:57
Maybe the Duchess?

Host – Wiola 1:00
Oh, yes. So Ralph, can you tell us a little what’s the story and the mission behind the GaS Digital Network?

Guest – Ralph 1:09
Yeah, you know, so it started, if I’m gonna be honest, I did radio for a bunch of years, almost 20 years, I did radio and I had noticed the writing’s on the wall that radio was dying. And radio wasn’t important anymore. And nobody gave a shit about radio because of podcasting of YouTube and whatnot. So it literally was just a logical transition to move from radio, to podcasting, I used to make fun of podcasting because it felt like it was people in their mother’s basement and just doing nonsense on the computer. And then sort of realizing – oh, this is really going to be something. What I had also noticed that the same time was both in radio and online. And I hate it sounds so hacky to say this, but there was more and more restriction on what you can and cannot say, or how you can do whatever message you’re trying to get across. And it’s funny, because when I started in radio, there was this bible of like, Oh, these eight words or 10 words, you can’t say in any context. But other than that, you’re okay. As long as you don’t say, I don’t need to go through the famous list. But it was not that wasn’t the all inclusive list. There’s definitely other words you couldn’t say. But what I started to notice over the 15-17 years, I was in radio is connotation started becoming more popular. So meaning I got in trouble once in radio, because someone said that they needed a hammer. And I made the dumb joke ‘I got your hammer right here’, which is just a stupid, it’s not even funny. But I got in trouble for it because it was someone called me from one of our affiliates and like Iowa, and said, we were on at a at a festival and they were children there. And they heard that joke. And now we have to answer for it. And my response was, I was holding a hammer. You made it sexual? i How do you know it wasn’t holding a hammer? Like, it just sounded sexual to you. So it made me realize that more and more restriction was coming on. And I decided to just take everything on, on my own, where if we own the servers, we own the shows, we’re doing our own advertising, we’re doing subscriptions, nobody could take away what we do. And that’s why we started it. And I get emails weekly telling me I should cancel my show. Because they don’t realize I’m the owner. You don’t mean like the email the owner of the company and say, cancel this show because he said something offensive when it’s coming to us who were the two owners? That’s hilarious to me. Like I can’t cancel myself, but not that we’re doing anything horribly shocking. It’s just we live in a time now where everybody wants to shit on everyone else. And that just is really the birthplace of what GaS Digital became. So long answer I apologize.

Host – Wiola 3:52
So freedom.

Guest – Ralph 3:54
Freedom, yeah, although it starts to become hacky at this point. You know, most really, if I was gonna say our most important message is high quality, funny and entertaining content. Everything else shouldn’t matter. That’s what we care about be the best at what we do, delivering high quality content. Our tech sucks. And I know our tech sucks, but we are a content company that gets judged on tech. And it really that’s it’s this even though it’s important. And I’ve know directly why it’s so important. But we are first and foremost a content creation company trying to deliver great content.

Host – Bryan 4:29
But do you also think that maybe came from like, Louis, right? So the co-owner of GaS Digital about like, you know, skanks, right so they can brand themselves like the most controversial show, right? So do you think that also plays a part in how GaS Digital is perceived?

Guest – Ralph 4:44
Yeah, of course. But keep in mind when GaS Digital first started, skanks was not on the network. You know, it was for other shows. And so having the quote unquote most most controversial podcast on the planet, wasn’t on deck at the beginning. It just happened organically and we went on. So for me, it really was. I was doing radio, my radio show was on about 100 stations, and they were all small to medium sized stations, you put 100 ship stations together, we had half a million people listening every week. So I thought we get 10-20 small to midsize podcast, put them together, get a half a million people listening every week, we can make a really good living. And that’s how I conceptualized the idea of GaS.

Host – Wiola 5:28
So this is like the whole network of podcasts, it’s not the only one. So now you’re running like you have like 25 podcasts?

Guest – Ralph 5:35
I think it’s 22 or 23 changes here and there because summer web exclusive like exists exclusively only on GaS Digital summer shows that are on hiatus. But let’s say about right now, last count, it’s 35 hours of entertainment every week. So from Monday to Sunday 35 new hours of entertainment come out a week, so sure, at least minimum.

Host – Wiola 5:57
Yeah, that’s a lot. The next question is, how do you maintain this, you know, good quality?

Guest – Ralph 6:04
I try to watch 10 minutes of every show, which is hilarious, I just literally will have a notification on my phone. And as soon as the show starts, I want to make sure it starts on time, I want to make sure they updated their graphics, want to make sure that they are not doing anything stupid, the quality, the quality, and by stupid, I just mean like bad camera angles. You know, I don’t care about stupid in terms of content, but and if I’m engaged in the first 10 minutes, I’m like, okay, I can go I can’t waste 35 hours a week watching every single show in its entirety. But I do watch the first 10 minutes of every show. So that’s step one. Step two – we have our graphics team, and they literally start on show one, and update the graphics, and then go all the way through to 35. By the time that happens, it’s time to go back to show one. So they’re in a constant state of reimagining the graphics on and the audio and stuff on show certain shows are thrilled with their graphics and don’t want an update. So those don’t change. But like most of the shows, there is a changeover every three to six months, there’s new graphics, there’s, there’s new camera shots and stuff like that, we’re always trying to update we just added new curtains in the studio edit a new green screen, we’re building a new table just want to always look like there’s something going on.

Host – Wiola 7:21
Yeah, so that’s very dynamic.

Guest – Ralph 7:23
Yeah, it has to be. I think that in this this industry is so dynamic, that even the metrics as to what they consider a listen has changed about six times since I started. So it’s just out there just got changed again, the quote Ay ay ay b two standard now just came out. And there’s always going to be a new metric as to the higher ups decided what deems a listener and that change will make you have to re re imagine how you’re charging for your content. Because once that new standard gets established, you might lose your game 30% of your listenership depending on how they consume your content, and you have to adjust accordingly. So the nature of this business is constantly in a state of flux.

Host – Wiola 8:09
Okay, and what about the way you’re running podcasts right now? Like are they all in studio?

Guest – Ralph 8:18
COVID made it a very odd thing for us. So we’ll go back almost two years now, which is hard to fucking believe. Almost two years ago, it was March, I think, around the 13th or 14th. We closed on this. Then the New York City got shut down on the 17th, which was St. Patty’s Day that Monday, that Thursday prior so whatever that is 12-13. I got my producers together and we met at the studio. And we said at the time, let’s say we had 20 shows, we have to figure out how we don’t miss a show. So no one can come in the studio starting Monday. So does someone need a camera? Does someone need a microphone? Does someone need a laptop? Let’s see who needs what, and that’s what we did. We set Ubers around New York City. Some people went with a mic or two, some got a whole setup I have in my in my home here at the time. I had four cameras and like eight microphones, so I sent out whatever needed. I sent out laptops, and we made sure that no show got missed. Come that Monday, every show stayed on the air. And now hilariously, excuse me. A lot of shows don’t want to come back. They’re happy to be doing it from home in their underwear. I know. I feel shows are way better in person. You cannot beat straight eye-to-eye contact, physical motion, seeing how people sitting and relaxing and just being in a room with someone. They bring their guard down every interview I’ve ever I did radio for almost 20 years every interview in person is always better than over the phone or over video. It’s just a different world. So I went back as soon as we could go back but nowadays with the only good thing about it is that it opened up like, I forgot you guys are in Poland? Is that where you are? Is that right?

Host – Wiola 10:01

Guest – Ralph 10:02
We obviously would never be able to do this. If it wasn’t for Zoom, you know, until I fly out to Poland again, it’s, you know, it’s not happening. So that’s the good thing about Zoom, or Skype or whatever you’re using, we got the biggest guests we’d ever get on on SDR show, we would never get Ray Romano and Neil deGrasse Tyson and, you know, all these huge rock bands that came on The Doors and Kiss and, you know, huge bands, because they could do it from their house. So right, I would rather a smaller band in studio than a big band over zoom. Just because I know it’s gonna be more fun 90% of the time. But I can’t force people to come back into the studio. So right now, I would say we’re at about a 60-40 split. 60% is back in the studio. And 40% are electing to either do it from home, some of them are bands that want to do it on the road, they enjoy it more that way. And as long as they’re delivering their content every week, and their numbers haven’t altered that much. I can’t you know, fault them. I get it.

Host – Bryan 11:04
Yeah, well, speaking for me personally as obviously a subscriber. So you know, it was amazing to see that how much the world was changing, but all my GaS Digital shows that remained constant.

Guest – Ralph 11:15
It was wild. I tell you, the funniest thing was that first week, okay, the 17th for Let’s even say that first month, all that I mean, I don’t know about you guys in Poland. But in America, all the shows the real regular network shows like live television, late night television, morning shows that are on network television live, had no idea what the fuck they were doing. Right? So feeds were going out, titling was wrong, audio quality was terrible. And our shows looked and sounded better than billion dollar corporations for that first month, until they figured it out. And that did wonders for us. Because people would watch our show like, how are they better than NBC? Like what’s going on? Like?

Host – Bryan 11:58
Yeah, well, what do you think you guys did differently? What do you guys think you did differently than other?

Guest – Ralph 12:02
We were used to the idea already, we had done enough online shit that we were comfortable with bringing graphics up on a screen, or what audio sounds like when you’re in a home? Like even right now, Bryan, you’re a little echoey. You know, that’s because you’re not used to doing this being directly behind a flat wall. You’re begging for echo. That’s what’s happening. You know, I don’t have a flat wall behind me. Wiola does have a flat wall behind her. So we don’t have echo, right? They didn’t think about stuff like that. They didn’t understand also even basic audio mapping. Sometimes they’d bring in a zoom call, or a Skype call. And the audio would begin looped and you’d hear over and over the same people who they had never done that before. We had done it thousands of times. So it was a big boom for us. My business partner whom you mentioned, Louis, we talked that week before and he said, we’re not going to lay anybody off. We’re actually going to bring on a new show. And we’re going to raise the prices. The only difference we did was with the beginning when we all thought it wasn’t going to last that long. We gave a month free to anybody that would sign up, right? So you get a month free, try it out, we’re all stuck at home, see what it does. And it did wonders for us. It was a great boost to the network. And 90% of those people stayed with us for the past year and a half. So it’s been great, really. I hate, I always feel like a douchebag because the pandemic was very good to me. I lost 60 pounds, the network doubled in size. I can’t really complain. But I feel shitty saying that when so many people had so many horrible things happen. The truth is it was it was good for me.

Host – Wiola 13:36
Okay, so if you could say one thing you learned as a result of this transition, and pandemic – what would it be?

Guest – Ralph 13:44
I think the thing I learned is no matter what, and it’s such a hacky thing. The show must go on, right? So no matter what’s happening, the world was on fire for all intents and purposes. But we kept going. We kept trying to be funny. We kept trying to make sure we deliver new content, even when we really did not want to, you know, but more importantly with just get that fucking show out. When I was a for, jesus, 15 years I was a strip club DJ, right?

Host – Bryan 14:11
I thought you’re gonna say stripper.

Guest – Ralph 14:14
That too, but that was when I was in my teens. Those DJ – and I never forget these men, they had very good business ethics over there, which is really funny. In fact, you guys probably don’t get the show. I did. There’s a very famous show here in America called Bar Rescue. And this guy, Jon Taffer, right?

Host – Bryan 14:30

Guest – Ralph 14:31
Legend, right? And he just came on SDR there this past weekend, and I watched a bunch of his talks on how to boost your business. And my first question then was like, Dude, you had to consult for strip clubs back in the day. And he said I did why that’s it because it was like listening to the speech of my manager back in, you know, 1998 of what we should be doing. They just followed his playbook and it turned out I was right. It was the strip club I worked for was the one that he worked for. Whatever that is 25-30 years ago, and the one lesson I always remembered was they said, I don’t care if your your dog died, your mother passed away, you broke up with your girlfriend, if you’re coming to work, leave that shit at the door, you know, and if you can’t come to work, then don’t come to work. But if you’re coming to work, leave that shit at the door. And that would happen. It was one time I was walking into the strip club, and my girlfriend broke up with me on the phone as I was walking in. And I was like, alright, I just stayed outside for a second took a deep breath. And like, let’s just fucking go in and put on a happy face for the next few hours. So that’s what you got to do. And that’s what we did during the network for the last year and a half no matter how much the sky was falling. It was fun to do a podcast.

Host – Bryan 15:45
Cool. And maybe I think we’ll switch gears a bit, too. So the way we consume podcasts have changed a lot, especially for me personally, like, originally, I was a apple podcast guy now mostly Spotify, right?

Guest – Ralph 16:00
They’re doing a big job, a big push for getting people.

Host – Bryan 16:03
Yes, so where do you see the technology of podcasts like of hosting and stuff like that? Where do you see that foresee in the next year, or two or five?

Guest – Ralph 16:12
Well, what’s funny is that it is our biggest expense – media hosting for us because we own our own, you know, servers with my own, but we renting our own servers, versus just a podcast that’s on Spotify. If you’re a podcast on Spotify, you don’t really have to pay for the hosting. I think there might be some basic plan but nothing that they we’re getting destroyed because we’re providing 10, ATP, HD content on our own servers along with all the mp3 Is that a commercial free. And it’s a fortune. I think that the only way this will truly be not owned by the mega corporations again, which it seems like it’s coming back to them. I’m wondering if those prices become reasonable, but I don’t think they will. I think eventually, you’re gonna have to be on Amazon, Spotify, or Microsoft’s cloud, one of these companies. And I think it’s just gonna go back like, it’s funny, I look at, if you remember when Netflix started, right? The big joy of Netflix was, you no longer have to subscribe to every channel, because we have ever every TV we have everything. So you just screw you know, cable packages that screw you just get Netflix and everyone’s like, Oh my God. But now what’s happened is there’s Netflix, there’s Amazon Prime, there’s Hulu, there’s, you know, Disney plus, HBO Max, basically. So you’re doing the same thing over again, it just the joy of that Netflix is you only have to pay go to one place. And now we’re doing what we used to do 10 years ago, which is, what channel is that show on now? It’s oh, what network is that? You know, do I pay for that? And I think that’s what’s gonna happen. Now, I hate to say it. But it looks like you know, Spotify is buying up fucking podcast left and right. And it’s good to be one of them. I heard Apple now does the same thing with subscriptions, you can do that. I really believe it’s unfortunately going to be that fast forward 10 years, you’re gonna have to be on one of the big networks, if your podcast wants to survive. And then what that happens is I do believe in America, the FCC, which is our communications control system, government has not touched podcast, you could do whatever the fuck you want, curse, be racist, be offensive. It doesn’t matter. I believe it will matter. I believe that there will be an algorithm that will listen and judge – is this deemed not safe for consumption, and maybe your warning level label will go on it. But I wish that would happen. Like to me on every social media platform, if you could click an option saying I don’t mind offensive content. And then people with offensive content, label their content offensive, then you’ve taken out the part where people who might get offended could hear it. I don’t know why they don’t just do that. That’s my opinion. That was my long again, long winded answer.

Host – Bryan 19:09
And you know, but I think that’s that’s true. But maybe do you kind of see a way where you could have just all of the GaS Digital content within a dedicated app? Because you know, obviously, we’ve gotten in touch because I am a subscriber and I first talked to you about how crappy every GaS Digital app has been right?

Guest – Ralph 19:28
Oh, yes. Yeah. Terrible.

Host – Bryan 19:30
So you obviously saw a need for GaS Digital app. And you know, it could that be the way where everyone kind of just has their own app within their own network.

Guest – Ralph 19:40
Well, why I think yes, that’s, that’s a part of the puzzle. The second part of that, though, is keep in mind that media has to be hosted somewhere, you know, so I agree. I think we should have an app and event I was very anti app. You know, when we first started, Lewis was super pro app, unfortunately wasted an ungodly amount of money. Now Lewis is anti app. And now I’m pro app. So if we would have waited, and not and skipped all the bullshit yet, we did four iterations of garbage apps. If we would have saved all that money and pulled it together, we could have waited five years and put out one great app, you know, but that, but the problem is, again, as you know, media has to be hosted somewhere. So if there’s only three or four media hosting companies, and they deem you offensive, that could be a problem. What are you going to build your own server farms? I don’t know. It’s a it’s a good question. I don’t know.

Host – Wiola 20:32
Okay, so why they failed? Like, what was the reason? You said you had four different variations? So what was the problem?

Guest – Ralph 20:44
Every one of them had those three, I think, really, there were three iterations, right? One was not really never really came out. But the first one, we did the mistake that every fucking business does, which is hilarious in hindsight, where you go get some quotes for an app. And in general, let’s say you get three quotes, almost always that happens this way. one’s crazy expensive, one’s crazy cheap, one somewhere in the middle, right? The right thing to do is probably take that middle one, right. But we did the exactly wrong thing and did the cheapest one possible, right. And I believe they were lying. They weren’t really in America, I think they had an American fake phone number. And it was routing it routing to India. It was a big communication problem. The app just never really worked. Right? It just did not work. Right. We couldn’t get that, it was cheap. You know, I think we spent five maybe six thousand dollars on the app.

Host – Bryan 21:40
You didn’t find that too good to be true at the moment?

Guest – Ralph 21:42
Yes I did but here’s the thing. Louis said he knew them. I don’t think he did. I think he lied. But he said he knew them. So I’m like, fine, maybe they’re just some super fans of Louis. And they’re gonna do it for nothing. But they screwed us, right. The second iteration of the app was very good. But the problem was, it was one person. And then that dude got married and moved away, and then no longer wanted to support it. We never got it to the point where it was great, but it was getting there. And I think if that guy had one or two people working under him, and did not get a kid and married and moved away, that could have been the app, but it never happened. Then the third iteration was a girl I used to date, which, again, is a mistake, you should never do that. Right? It ruined our friendship, we don’t talk anymore. But delays, delays, delays, never really worked. Right. And again, she was a Eastern European, and her team was in Russia, which there was some communication gaps, but then her team, there was some issues with Russia and America at the time. And we couldn’t get in touch with them when we needed to, like two, three years ago, when there was like a lot of tension between Russia and America. And then they just kind of bailed on it, you know, and it never did what it was supposed to do. Like that same story happened three times where it started out, okay, and then when it’s time to push it live, it’s very easy. And I’m sure you guys, as app developers understand this, when it’s just you using the app, you are you, you have your own habits. And even if you think you’ve checked every single code possible, every possible combination, if there’s a fuckup to be found, five minutes after it goes live, some idiot in Georgia is gonna figure it out and find the problem. And then you just have to fix it. And that’s fine. But if there isn’t a person to fix it, that’s what kept happening. They weren’t ready to update those problems when you know, 1000 people or 10,000 people download an app, they’re gonna find issues that you would not have found on your own.

Host – Bryan 23:47
Yeah, and I think this is a really important subject. Because obviously, Ralph, you’re not in tech, right, you don’t know how to build apps. Right? So I think a lot of people who would might listen to this, they would, they would want, besides the cost, like but what were some other red flags that you saw from like those potential claw?

Guest – Ralph 24:04
I would say, you know, you need to find I think it’s hard to say this, but somebody that gets your ideology, meaning that if you are a health and wellness production team, and you start working with a ridiculous show, like our network, there’s going to be miscommunication, that there’s going to be their ideals and your ideals. And you need not to be that you have to feel like kinda 100%, but they should be somewhat familiar with the message you’re trying to get across, or at least had developed successful podcast apps before. Something they can show you. If it’s just an app development company that’s never done a podcast app – that’s a problem because they’re just going to try and cut and paste code, and it’s not going to work if you have highly specific ideas. The next thing I can say is probably the most important thing which nobody wants to do, but you have to do is really lay out what you want in your podcast app, really map through what you think makes sense. Find an app in the store that’s very close to what you are. There’s, I don’t know, 10 million apps on the store, there’s going to be something, find something that’s close enough. That’s a launchpad that okay, this looks and feels and kind of works like what we want. But we want to add these things. And then realize, no matter how much you plan, how much you map out how much you organize, you’re still gonna make 500 changes once it goes live, because that’s just what’s gonna happen. And you have to factor that into your budget.

Host – Bryan 25:32
Sure. And do you think maybe the first times you went through it, maybe you weren’t as involved as you thought you should have been?

Guest – Ralph 25:38

Host – Bryan 25:38
Because, you know, again, based on what we’ve had before, you know, you kind of just said, you know, build me the app and then when it’s ready, it’s ready. Right? So you know, we’ve, we’ve been speaking for almost two years now. Right? You know, we’ve prepared some designs for you and everything. And, you know, it seemed like you’re you understood that you need to be more involved in the development process.

Guest – Ralph 25:56
What happens when you go down that road four or five times? It gets very hard to do it again. It’s like going trying to go back with a girlfriend on the fifth time. You’re like, ah, here we go again – do we have the patience to go through all the same questions, again, all the same stories again? Like, it’s hard to do, you know, and GaS Digital works as it does, because Louis and I are very yin and yang. Louis is the world’s best promoter, the world’s best one of the top podcasts was great at getting people to rally behind him, he’s unbelievable at it, he does not want to ever do day to day stuff, or things that keep the network going, you know, or he doesn’t probably, if I asked him how to turn on the fucking lights at GaS Digital, I don’t think he knows how to do it, you know. Somebody needs to be there that can fix every single problem. I try to be that guy as often as possible, and still want to do my podcasts and have fun and do the entertainment side of it. But if I didn’t, I probably talk three or three to five staff members down a ledge from quitting once a month, at least every month, because somebody freaked out, somebody got angry, you know, you’re dealing with comedians, you’re dealing with entertainers that are hot headed, and they flip out on the staff. And they’ll call me and they want to quit, or they don’t, they’re not being appreciated, or whatever. So it’s a lot to then say, okay, I just had a 15 hour day now let me sit and go through the app. But you fucking have to, if you really want it to look right, you got to do it. You just got to do it. It sucks. But you got to do it. And like in any business, whether it’s I did restaurants for a long time, the radio show, whatever. If somebody would skin in the game isn’t part of the day to day, it will fail. End of story. You can’t rely on other people. Nobody’s gonna care. Like you’re gonna care.

Host – Wiola 27:43
Yeah. So if you could get back in time to make a dedicated app for the first time, what would you change in the first place?

Guest – Ralph 27:56
Well, first of all, I think the biggest mistake we made, I would never launch until a close group of like, 50 people, were using it for a couple of months, you know, were slowly rollout to just five people, then 10 people. Don’t talk about it. Just have 50-60 friends and family using the app as much as possible. And even put in a reward system like, ‘Hey, if you find a mistake, if you find this, let me know, you’ll get something’, get people engaged to really hammer through that app and then spend a day we’re okay at noon. On Friday, all 50 of us are going to start the same video at the same time stress, test these things and see what happens, because that’s what happened a lot with us too, is that it worked fine when eight people were using the app. But when 5000 people were using at the same time, our servers were just crashing constantly. So we have to figure out ways to stress test better. That’s another big one. But I think the biggest thing is, don’t rush it. If it takes, it’ll take as long as it takes don’t say all right – it’s coming out January 1, when you don’t know if it’s come out January 1, because when it’s ready, it’s fucking ready.

Host – Bryan 29:08
Yeah, yeah. So maybe we could get more into that, to the podcast app, right. So again, so just recall some conversations that mean you and Louis had right about the app. Right? So you were maybe thinking about having the app more for the users, right? The subscribers, right? Someone like me, who pays?

Guest – Ralph 29:27
The reason why I thought it would be for subscribers first is that we’re not going to compete with a Spotify or Google podcasts or an iTunes, these billion dollar companies that have incredible apps. We can’t ever have an app that works as well as those apps, you know, because they have 100 people and unlimited funds. So if we focus just on the subscriber side of it, then we can focus on what our subscribers want, exclusively and not worrying about being all things to all people like Spotify and iTunes have to be.

Host – Bryan 30:02
Yeah. So maybe we want to switch gears to some more rapid fire questions, Ralph. Okay, go ahead, Wiola.

Host – Wiola 30:11
Okay. So the question number one. What is the toughest business challenge you’re facing right now?

Guest – Ralph 30:20
The toughest business challenge right now, I would say is that we dance a delicate dance of GaS Digital, which is that, like we said at the top of the show, we’re at a point where investors and VC companies and bigger media companies have been interested in becoming a part of the GaS Digital world, right. But we are very well aware that we’re not a mainstream company. So figuring out how to potentially, a great example – I don’t know if you guys know, Barstool Sports. So they were about our size, when they were this timeline five years into it, they’re about where we were now maybe even a little smaller. And they figured out how to pivot into becoming a $300 million company, you know, so right now, that’s what we’ve been looking at, like, where do we bring in people to go to attend multiple or 20 multiple of where we are. And that’s been a not lose the soul of GaS Digital. I mean, I would just part of skank fest, which was this weekend, one of our at the Comedy Festival that we put on, my staff does drugs around me all the time, you know, I don’t do any drugs at all, but they’ll deal drugs in front of each other in front of me, you know, and that’s one of my statements to these people, when they get agitated at GaS. I’m like, if you think you can find a job, where no one’s over your shoulder, you laugh most of the time, and you can deal drugs in front of your boss, go get that fucking job. Because good for you. It doesn’t exist anywhere else. So that soul of the company would get lost if a Mark Cuban invested in the network. You can’t do that with fucking Mark Cuban being a part of the network. So figuring out how to keep the soul of the company if we bring in anything to make us go to the next level, I think isn’t very important to me. And that’s been weighing on my soul for the past three months, I would say, trying to figure that out.

Host – Wiola 32:21
Do you think are you any closer?

Guest – Ralph 32:24
You know I don’t know, what I do really hope is that which it seems like, Chappelle is a good example of this, he’s big comedy special came out where the world was trying to cancel him, and he’s not getting canceled. He’s too big.

Host – Bryan 32:38
Well, what do you think of this?

Guest – Ralph 32:39
What I thought about it was this. It was brilliant. I don’t know if it was as funny. It was brilliant. Like it was a thought provoking piece. I didn’t laugh out loud as much as I did on other shows of his, you know, other special, I think he had a message to get across. And he wanted to get it across in a humorous way. But the message was more important than the comedy. That last special is what I think it was brilliant. But it wasn’t as funny as the others. That’s my that’s my take on it. But he did not get cancelled. They wanted to cancel them. But he’s not getting cancelled. So if we, yeah, exactly. So we can be in that realm where because we are who we are, we have shielded ourselves, then I feel that it will work. You know, and I don’t know, there’s no way to know. But I think we’re getting closer, that’s for sure.

Host – Wiola 33:34
Right? And what is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Guest – Ralph 33:42
If you try to make everyone happy, you end up pleasing no one. I think that is the most important thing we learned. I learned that when I was a DJ, a regular DJ at a nightclub.

Host – Bryan 33:55
Not the stripper.

Guest – Ralph 33:54
And that’s where I went, I started out in nightclubs and then transitioned into strip clubs. And I remember a guy telling me that if you’re trying to please everybody, you please nobody. So you got to figure out better to have a list like even bands will tell you this, if you can sell 1000 products or 1000 things every time you sell you 1000 hardcore fans, you can live the rest of your life if you know those 1000 people are gonna buy every time you put out a product, they’re gonna come to your show, whatever it is, you can survive. So better to have those hardcore 1000, then share whether 50,000 that may or may not give a shit the next time you turn around. So figure out your niche and stick with it. Yeah, so have you please ever you try to please everybody please nobody. I really believe that.

Host – Wiola 34:38
And what’s what’s your niche now with GaS Digital network? What’s the ideal profile?

Guest – Ralph 34:44
The best way to describe it is slightly off center, mainstream entertainment. And the way I describe that is so we have political show. It’s not Republican or Democrat. It’s libertarian. We have a music show, it’s not rapper EDM, it’s rock, we have a sports show, it’s not baseball, or football or basketball, it’s UFC and wrestling. So I feel that every one of our shows is in a big, big category, but a sub niche of that category with super hardcore fans, and that’s how we’ve survived. And I feel like even the comedy, it’s not the safe, mainstream, don’t curse, you know, like Brian Regan’s of the world who are brilliant. It’s these guys that are a little more off center that might be a little offensive, or a little controversial, and people will find it. And that’s the same thing with every facet of what each show it represents is slightly off center, to the mainstream category that there.

Host – Wiola 35:44
And, in general, what’s your favorite part of being a podcaster?

Guest – Ralph 35:50
You know, so it’s funny, what I missed it, we kind of get this a little bit now, but what I’ve missed, nothing is like, once again, it’s funny to bring it up DJing in a live environment, when you are in a strip club, or a regular club, or emceeing event, hosting a live event. This is why big actors go to do Broadway, you know, they’re not making more money. They’re going because they can see immediate reaction to what they’re doing. Right. I had that at live radio, when we were on my show was on, you know, we would say something on the air, the phones would light up immediately, when I was you know, hosting events, whatever you say something you see a reaction immediately. With podcasting, what I didn’t like about it initially was you do something, and it comes out a month later, you know, or weeks later, there’s no interactivity. So you know, they might tweet at you. You know, it happened many times at the beginning where somebody would tweet me tweet to me something that I said on a podcast from six months ago. I don’t fucking remember what the fuck we were talking about. Like, I have no idea. We’re gonna if I still believe that now it was a year ago. Who knows, right? But with a GaS Digital because we have the live aspect, we stream live. It’s the best of both worlds. We do get that interaction of live, but yet, it’s also a podcast. So I think I found a way to appease both sides of my desires, because the negative part of live radio for me, I wasn’t a talk show host. I was a music host. You had two to three minutes tops her break to talk. So it took me a long time to understand, oh, we can ask more in depth questions. I can do research and find things that interests me about the guy coming on. I never had that luxury that first 18 years of radio, because I knew we had three minutes. Tell me about the new album. Tell me about the tour. What’s going on in your life? All right. Nice talking. Yeah. And that was it. We didn’t have any more time. So having the hour or if we wanted to go longer. When I was doing radio, if that was a three hour show, if the hour didn’t end, within 10 seconds of the top of the hour, your mics got cut off. So there what you had to end that. So we had a very the song would get cut off or the mic would get off. So you had to timeout every fucking second. My podcast can go 10 minutes long. You can end 10 minutes early. It took me a long time to get that deprogramming. And that’s the part I liked the most is the freedom. So now I have the freedom of the podcast with the immediacy of the live mix together. And that’s what I love about it.

Host – Bryan 38:25
Yeah, and I think just to piggyback on that, you know, obviously, this is our first time podcasting and we’re happy that you were our first guest.

Guest – Ralph 38:31
Obviously, yikes!

Host – Bryan 38:35
So maybe you have like three tips for us on like, how to succeed? Maybe obviously not to scale at anything like GaS Digital, but just to be a productive podcast.

Guest – Ralph 38:45
Sure, number one – fix your fucking microphone, Bryan, the echo is awful. That’s number one. Number two, consistency is key. Do not miss an episode. The story I always give. The anecdote is my father passed away on a Friday. I did the show Monday. Didn’t want to do it. I did that show that Monday. Do not miss an episode. There’s a million podcast, people will go find something else. End of story. Number three, don’t try to do too much at once. So people I’ve had this conversation very often they not that GaS Digital is some fucking Holy Grail of networks, right? But they see we do our own ads. We do our own merch. We have a subscription service. We have social media people, we do video, we put out clips, blah, blah, blah. Everybody says, oh, I want that. I want to do that. Like, yeah, that took five years. And my closet right here is filled with $10,000 worth of failed experiments that didn’t work, you know, that we thought oh, this is gonna be the thing. And that’s kind of how we’re do it. And you don’t know. So don’t worry about it taking a while. Do the podcast if you think you’re going to be famous overnight. You think you’re going to get 1000 listeners in a month. It’s not going to happen. Okay, there are a million podcasts. 90% of them so 900,000 have less than 500 listeners per episode. So take away 900,000 podcasts. Now you have 100,000 left. Okay, if you get to 10,000 listeners, congratulations, you’re in the top 5% of podcasts in the world. That’s amazing, right? Sometimes when you hear this a million podcasts, it seems daunting and overwhelming. Well, there are, I don’t know, 4 billion people on YouTube. Good luck trying to stand out on YouTube. At least there’s only a million podcasts you know, so for there’s only a million seems like a good deal when you look at the hundreds of millions of YouTube channels. So the barrier to entry is actually not as bad so that should be enthusiastic plus, the CPM rates are higher on podcasting than YouTube. So those are all positive things. So just understand it’s going to take a lot.

Alright, so we should not expect a million views to your podcast, even with as a guest?

Even with me is gonna hurt your listenership I feel.

Host – Bryan 41:03
Negative listens. Alright, Ralph, so I promise just three more questions, fast ones. So what’s your favorite cocktail?

Guest – Ralph 41:09
My favorite cocktail right now. So for years I was silver tequila and club soda, no calories, bright, very low sugar, trying to lose weight. But these days, because I’m trying to sound more cosmopolitan, and it’s a low ABV low alcohol by volume. I’m really into Aperol spritzes. It’s really goofy. But I like them. And not only I have this thing called the Keurig drinkworks. I don’t know if you know what that is but Keurig makes coffee, you know, the Keurig coffee, and it makes 20 different espresso.

Host – Bryan 41:36
George Clooney one, right?

Guest – Ralph 41:37
That’s Nespresso, but same concept – a little pod that you put it in, it makes a coffee. They make that now for cocktails. So I have this thing. I have like 40 different cocktails, you just put the little thing in, it makes beer, it makes spritzers, it makes it makes Moscow Mules to be on brand with Eastern Europe. It makes a ton of different things. So I don’t know how to I don’t have to know how to mix anything. And it also encourages people to drink. So it’s like, Oh, I’ll try that. Oh, I’ll try that. So it’s great. I think that but I go back to my Aperol Spritz is very often.

Host – Bryan 42:09
Cool. Alright, as a native New Yorker, Raph this question should be easy pineapple on pizza. Yes or no?

Guest – Ralph 42:14
Absolutely. And I’ll tell you why. Here’s the thing. I am super into food. I went to cooking school. I ran a restaurant for five years. I really am passionate about food. Right? And I used to get I used to shit on a girl if we go to dinner, and she ordered like a filet mignon well done. Or a salmon? Well, I would be like, fuck this dumb not knowing anything about food. You know what I get really angry. But I’ve come to realize it’s the same thing with music, any form of art. Food is a unique art because of your five main senses. Even though we’re taught we only have five, we obviously have a lot more than five senses. But our five primary senses. Food is the only art that uses those five, some arts are just auditory. Some are just visual. Do use your five main senses.

Host – Wiola 43:03
No, no.

Guest – Ralph 43:05
What’s another one? Name another one.

Host – Wiola 43:07
It’s a sexual experience.

Guest – Ralph 43:09
But that’s not a sense. Saying food it’s sexual? Well, sure.

Host – Wiola 43:13
Actually, there’s this five senses theory that says, oh, obviously like, the more senses you’re using to try something or experience this thing.

Guest – Ralph 43:23
Oh so you’re saying sex is a five senses thing.

Host – Wiola 43:26
Yes, exactly.

Guest – Ralph 43:27
So you’re saying that you’re so good at sex, that it’s an art form for you – is it what you’re saying?

Host – Wiola 43:31
No, I’m actually saying that I’ve seen this really cool TED talk.

Guest – Ralph 43:38
No, no, I’m not disagreeing with you.

Host – Wiola 43:39
That was their theory.

Guest – Ralph 43:43
The reason I’m disagreeing with you that I’m putting food in an art form. I’m not putting sex as art, you know. So I will agree with you that it uses all five senses, but very few people like let’s go well, I mean, other than porn, which is not I don’t think is considered an art form. But porn doesn’t use all five senses because you can’t smell porn. So unless you have some sort of scratch and as far as an art, pod food is the only one that uses those five. So the reason why I’m saying that is I am no longer judging someone that if their half to enjoyment is not the same as mine. So that’s why I’m okay with pineapple on pizza. Does that make sense?

Host – Bryan 44:22
Do you eat pineapple on pizza?

Guest – Ralph 44:24
I would really like to.

Host – Bryan 44:25
You would but you don’t – exactly. So that answers the question.

Guest – Ralph 44:28
I would if someone gave it to me. I never ordered it. I would never order it. But if it was handed to me, I would eat it. I thought I would hate watermelon and feta cheese as a salad when I first read that I’m like, Ooh, that sounds disgusting. But the salty sweet works. Chocolate with sea salt, you know cupcake with sea salt works. So the salty sweet combination. It does work and that’s all pineapple pizza is.

Host – Bryan 44:50
I’ve seen people also put banana recently on pizza. Is that a go, yes or no?

Guest – Ralph 44:54
I haven’t tried it, but I would try it. I don’t think it sounds good. I know that the banana peel bacon that people were making is God awful. I tried that it was horrible.

Host – Bryan 45:03
Okay, last question, Ralph. What are three words you would if you would give your 20 year old self? So say you’re now if you zoom back? What happened? 200 years ago, Ralph right? When you were 20. If you could give your 20 year old self only three words of advice, what would they be?

Guest – Ralph 45:19
Invest in Bitcoin.

Host – Bryan 45:22
Literally, that’s what Dustin said you would say.

Guest – Ralph 45:23
Oh shit. That would be the very obvious answer. ‘Shave your balls.’ How about that?

Host – Bryan 45:35
Equally as good. All right, Ralph, thank you so much for being with us. That was Ralph Sutton, co-owner of GaS Digital network, and co-host of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Ralph, thank you so much for being the first guest on our podcast.

Guest – Ralph 45:47
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.

Host – Bryan 45:48
Bye Ralph.

Host – Wiola 45:49

Guest – Ralph 45:50
Thanks, kids.

Speaker 45:52
Thank you for listening to ‘How We Innovate’. A podcast by Applandeo. Get your apps and web apps built today by visiting applandeo.com We’re Applandeo!