In the end, it was the right time to move on.
After 11 years as the morning crew at Alpha Radio in Mankato, George and Jess Blais felt the need to go out on their own and explore various media possibilities. In a way, their George and Jess podcast just continues the path they’ve been on for all these years, but in a different medium.
Although they considered leaving commercial radio for a few years, a date for them – and for so many others – marked the beginning of the end of life as they had known it.
“We were sent home, like so many people have been, on Friday March 13, 2020,” Jess said of their journey. “I literally grabbed the boom mic in the studio (as we were walking home),” George said.
They were initially told it would be two weeks, until the COVID-19 curve could flatten. However, as the duration increased, it was realized that this was not a short-term change.
They already had good gear at home for indie audio work, but they added it to make sure their audience got the same experience they were used to. They wanted to bring consistency.
“It was really important to us not to sacrifice the integrity of the product,” Jess said. “I wanted people to feel like everything was normal. Everything was the same. We were all together, going through this weird and crazy time.
“We heard from a lot of listeners (when they were working from home),” she said. “Like, ‘You were my constant. No matter how crazy and weird everything was, you were always there.
“It was comforting for us and for them that we were still on the air every morning.”
The pandemic that has sent many workers home to carry on as usual has caused changes in many people, and George and Jess were no exception. Their home, in a way, provided them with the distance to re-evaluate their radio careers and career direction, they said.
Some of this comfort for others came from the comfort they had with each other, talking about their lives, their children, what they were doing at home. This will continue with the podcast.
“A lot of consultants have pointed out to us that we have a big advantage because we’re married,” George said. “When it comes to sitting down and developing that chemistry, it’s something they’ve been looking for for a long time.”
While on the radio, they had been asked to create YouTube, Reels, and TikTok videos, which deepened their bond with audiences. George continued on TikTok with daily trips to the bird feeder where he talks to listeners. Hosting a cooking program and virtual happy hours broadened their readiness for these new roles.
Jess had run Greater Mankato Moms, a network of volunteer moms who shared stories and advice for parents, giving them a media experience they use now. They used to create their own content, but now they have full control with no commercial breaks to get around. Each podcast is approximately 30 minutes long.
George and Jess had several factors in their favor for this venture: They were married, which meant their relationship extended beyond the studio and the microphone. They’ve had over a decade to develop their on-air relationship, not just with each other but with an audience. And they had an audience that had a relationship with them that would follow them to a new place.
What has evolved could be a new type of podcast, they said, where they bring the feeling of a morning show to a program that is also posted on their George and Jess Podcast website to be listened to at people’s convenience. . Every day, George said, they gain listeners introduced to them through past podcasts.
“I think it lends itself to couples who really enjoy our show because maybe the woman will listen and hear something that she tried to articulate or feel but really didn’t know how to bring up. “, said Jess. “And I’ve had a lot of women say to me, ‘Oh, I’m sending your podcast to my husband. “”
Jess works full time as the Business and Community Relations Manager at APX Construction in Mankato. Although their new podcasts are available at 6am every weekday, they pre-record them either the night before or earlier in the morning. They want to be timely, George said.
“I want to be a relevant, up-to-date source of entertainment,” George said. Another good thing is that if they go on vacation, as they will in May, they can create podcasts wherever they are.
This is the perfect time to produce a podcast.
According to an April 7 report on buzzsprout.com, 73% of the population aged 12 and over have listened to audio online in the past month. More than a third (104 million) of Americans regularly listen to podcasts, 80 million of whom report being weekly podcast listeners.
One of those local podcast listeners is Stephanie Fischer, a 36-year-old mother of three, a preschooler and 7-month-old twins. A former contributor to Greater Mankato Mom, she is a pediatric sleep consultant and has her own website, bedrocksleep.com.
“I have a new habit of listening to their podcast almost every morning, shortly after it drops at 6 a.m.,” Fischer said. She had listened to their morning show from time to time, but their podcast “is my experience before the kids woke up while I was caffeinating for the day, checking email, making my son’s lunch, etc.”
She subscribes to 30 podcasts, she said, and doesn’t just listen to George and Jess because she knows them. “They have such a natural banter that is lovely to listen to. I also like their sometimes divergent points of view on subjects, since they are from different generations. The fact that they are married and their age difference makes their conversations more intriguing.
Instead of breaking up the podcast with commercial breaks, they will have a limited number of “brand partners” with whom they will build mutually beneficial relationships.
“I think it’s just a natural evolution. And it gives us a chance to partner with brands that we’ve known, worked with, and built relationships with,” Jess said. They will be able to build stronger relationships because there will be fewer people to work with.
George admitted he hoped to reach that point in his career, but believed it would be closer to retirement in about ten years. And Jess was at a stage in her career where she was looking for growth, some of which she found at APX Construction.
“I will be forever grateful,” George said, “because without those 11 years of doing the morning show together, we never could have attracted so many people and brought them to this new platform. But I just felt it was time.
To learn more about what this couple is up to, visit georgeandjess.com, instagram.com/georgeandjesspodcast/ or search for them anywhere you get your podcasts.