Two years ago, I did an interview with Jesse Thorn, the host of the public radio program The Sound of Young America and, to my mind, one of the most interesting entrepreneurs in public media today. The Sound of Young America is an interview show (think a younger Fresh Air) that is distributed by PRI and airs on dozens of public radio stations — but has a business model built primarily on donations from podcast listeners.
Since that interview, Jesse’s business has grown and evolved. What began years ago as a single show is now a network of a half-dozen podcasts, including one featuring “I’m a PC” Daily Show fave John Hodgman. Fans of the shows now gather yearly at a (profitable) weekend conference in the hills of southern California. Jesse now hosts a weekly show on IFC and, thanks in part to a successful Kickstarter project, runs a video podcast/successful blog on men’s fashion. But as new opportunities have arisen and the Jesse Thorn empire has sprawled into new directions, he’s managed to maintain control and a unified brand in a way I think a lot of young entrepreneurs could learn from.
So I thought it was time to have another conversation with Jesse.