Last year, Jacobs Media helped Cox Media Group host an internal contest to identify podcasting talent within the company's ranks. One of the podcasts to emerge from that endeavor was the cleverly titled Mass. Marijuana, a show about the growing pains in the newly legal cannabis industry in the state of Massachusetts. The series is produced by Dalton Main, a digital content producer for Boston 25 News. The podcast recently won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award, and is the second series produced by Main to be so honored. Main was able to produce this podcast by taking advantage of the material that his station already had in its archive — a formula that could be the key to success for other broadcasters around the country.
To gain insights about how a member of a traditional broadcasting outlet can successfully produce podcasts, Dalton was kind enough to share his experience.
What is the Mass. Marijuana podcast about?
Mass. Marijuana is a podcast about the adult-use cannabis industry in Massachusetts. We launched this podcast when Massachusetts began its work regulating cannabis as a way to help people understand the culture, use, and legal restrictions of cannabis. It spans much more than just the ins and outs of the industry, covering the people and stories behind the plant.
Where did the idea for Mass. Marijuana come from?
Cannabis is a niche interest for many people, but its history, ubiquity, and growing appeal reveal incredible stories. Whatever you call it – a plant, a drug, a medicine – cannabis has an incredible culture and history behind it. The idea was to create a podcast that educates people about so much more than just a drug. It’s about coming to terms with a troubled past, marginalized groups, and the creation of a whole new industry.
Describe the writing and production process for the podcast.
This process was somewhat unique in that I worked with television reporters at Boston 25 News to create it. As cannabis became legal, we were covering stories constantly. My job was to take the interviews and stories created every day and weave them into a larger overarching narrative. I got to read between the lines and connect the dots of the daily news pieces. It was very fun.
How did you promote the podcast?
We used social media to push episodes out and cross-promoted from our television broadcast. Whenever a story about the Massachusetts cannabis industry would be broadcast, we would add an outro on the story in the newscast pushing viewers to download the podcast and listen.
What was the biggest challenge in creating this podcast?
The biggest challenge in creating this podcast was learning about something that I had never known much about. I started by reading The Pot Book by Julie Holland so I could start to understand the history, effects, and legacy of illegal cannabis. Then I began showing up to cannabis events in Massachusetts so I could meet people and make contacts to learn more about the stories we needed to tell.
What did you learn in the course of creating this podcast?
I learned a lot about cannabis, but also a lot about making connections in a “new” field. In actuality, cannabis has been around for a long time and there was a whole culture ready to take their love and enthusiasm to the mainstream. My experience getting to know them and hearing their stories was incredible. It’s something I cover a little bit in the final episode: The Cannabis Community.
What advice would you give to other traditional broadcasters looking to start podcasting?
Podcasts are so convenient and so comfortable for so many people. It's basically just sitting down with a friend and letting them tell you a story. It’s a powerful platform that is booming right now. The history, hard work, and legacy of traditional broadcasters are elements just waiting to be extracted and compacted into long-form podcasts. Look to your archives and think about the ways you can leverage your brand for story telling in this format.
Check out the Mass. Marijuana podcast here: