By Madisyn Hahn
Nov. 14, 2019
The Commonwealth podcast has been in the works since June of 2019 and just released its first episode the third Monday in September. Each new episode has been released every Monday since and can be heard on KZUM.org or any other podcast streaming service. The show is run by co-creator Alec McChesney alongside host Nick Castner.
Host and co-creator of the show, Nick Castner said, “We started making this project for a regional media outlet here in Lincoln. In the final days before launch, that outlet backed out on the project. It was also the same week the startup [where I was working at the time,] laid me off. Tough week. However, I reflected on why I decided to make the show in the first place, which was to inspire the next wave of creators and innovators. After realizing that, I knew I had to keep pushing forward.”
McChesney, who sets the marketing strategy for the podcast, also has a full-time gig as a Marketing Strategist at Firespring. Castner contributes most of his time toward this podcast, but since it’s not a stable income he works as a margarita server at Tico’s in Lincoln.
“When the startup laid me off it gave me a reason to focus on this project full time. One of our first episodes is with the founders of the startup that laid me off. We discuss both of our perspectives on those layoffs,” Castner said.
Castner constantly is learning from each of his guests, pinpointing useful information that sticks out to him. Those people he gains knowledge from include entrepreneurs, artists and athletes who are leading disruptive change.
“I start by going over their career, then unpack their approach to doing something new,” Castner said. “Some of our upcoming episodes are with Hannah Huston, finalist on The Voice, and Amanda Valentine, fashion designer for 21 Pilots. Both are well-spirited and badass humans.”
The name Commonwealth came from a newspaper called The Nebraska Commonwealth and they liked it. They decided to put together a definition that spoke to them in which it’s a group of people who unite for the common good. The name alone helps set them apart from other podcasts, but it’s also the interesting guests and Castner’s research into those guests.
“Two big things that help our podcast differentiate from others with similar topics. First, we’ve been able to feature some fairly significant people, like Jeff Raikes, the former CEO of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the founders of Hudl. Secondly, I spend hours researching my guests before I sit down with them. This allows me to pull answers they’ve never given before,” Castner said.
The creators have high hopes for this podcast and are willing to take risks in advancing it with interesting guests who like to disrupt an industry or change the world.
“Now the biggest obstacle is growing our audience. The one thing I keep on reminding myself is that it won’t happen overnight. It’ll take months of perfecting the content and driving new visitors to increase our traffic. If it was easy, everyone would have a hit podcast. It’s not easy,” Castner said.
You can hear all episodes of The Commonwealth at on our website, here.
Madisyn Hahn is a multimedia intern with KZUM.