The designers, models, business people, and other luminaries participating in Trenton Fashion Week will likely get pulled aside at some point and asked to speak into a microphone by Frank and Christina Sasso, who are covering the event on their own media programs. They married couple aren’t radio reporters — they are podcasters, and their show, “Trenton Waves,” is part of a growing podcast empire established by Frank and run out of a studio at the Base Camp Trenton coworking space on East Front Street.
Trenton Fashion Week will kick off Monday, September 16, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Conservatory Mansion at 540 East State Street with a mixer and the “My Brown is Beautiful Awards.” Tickets to the mixer are $35. More events will be held throughout the city all week including makeover events; fashion shows, including one with the students of Mercer County Community College’s fashion merchandising program; and more. For more information, visit eventbrite.com/e/trenton-fashion-week-2019-tickets-66814200071.
Frank Sasso got his start in podcasting in 2010 with the “Who’s Your Daddy GODcast,” a freewheeling roundtable discussion of religious issues. “It’s a Bible study kind of thing but with attitude,” Sasso says. At the time he started it, Sasso was working a temporary job at an insurance agency and found himself wanting something to listen to while he worked at repetitive tasks. “There wasn’t a show out there that I wanted to listen to, so I thought, why not just create the kind of show I wanted to listen to.” The podcast is still going and nearing its 10th anniversary.
In February Sasso launched a new podcast called “Trenton Waves,” which consists of short Q&A sessions with Trenton personalities. The first episode featured Mayor Reed Gusciora. A recent episode was an interview with Vont Leak, an 18-year-old who has just launched his own podcast called “Stay Woke.”
But Sasso’s company, New Pod City, is not just about producing his own shows. He also sells services to other podcasters including hosting, coaching, celebrity impressions, artwork, and social media posting. He charges $70 for two hours of studio time. He says his is the only podcasting hosting service in New Jersey.
Sasso has led an eclectic career in the arts and business. He says some of his more recognizable gigs in the 1980s and 1990s include consulting with Disney to help create the computer graphics for the groundbreaking ballroom scene in “Beauty and the Beast.” Animation fans might also be familiar with his work on the “Ren & Stimpy” cartoon for Nickelodeon. Sasso was the chief remote penciler for Stimpy, handling “overflow” cells from the main studio. “Whenever I go to a trade show, ‘Ren and Stimpy’ fans are very identifiable not only by sight but by smell,” he says. The Trenton City Museum hosted “An Animated Evening with Frank Sasso of the Ren and Stimpy Show,” where he shared stories of his time in the industry. He is also working on a new animated series called “Legends of Valdoria.”
Sasso grew up in New York, where his father worked for the post office and his mother was a matron on a bus for special needs children. His NYC roots (and accent) are why the New Pod City logo touts “a new breed of podcastah.”
Sasso is a believer in Trenton’s potential for revitalization. “There are so many things going on in Trenton, you can’t do them all,” he says. “But people don’t know about it. They just read about gangs. Gangs? This place is like Mayberry,” he says.
In addition to offering podcasting coaching, Sasso has some general advice for aspiring podcasters. “We are living in a golden age of open communication,” he says. “All you have to do is start talking and you can have hundreds if not thousands of people listening. Podcasting is in its infancy. We haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s possible.”
The six month rule: Always have three months of expenses in the bank. After that, then if you can live off the income of your podcast or other creative project for six months without touching your paycheck, then and only then should you quit your day job.
Consistency: If you commit to a weekly schedule, you had better make sure the show is up on the same day every week. Late shows will cause an audience to dwindle.
Show engagement: Interact with listeners, and do things like read letters on the air to show that you have genuine audience engagement. Otherwise any listenership numbers you claim will be questionable to anyone who wants to sponsor your podcast.
After establishing an audience, there are four main ways to make money from a podcast. “There is an insane amount of money that can be made out there for sitting there and talking, which you were going to do anyway,” Sasso says:
Sponsorships: Essentially this means getting companies to advertise on your podcast.
Merchandise: Selling merchandise can be a big money maker, especially with a highly engaged fan base.
Events: Live podcast recordings and selling tickets to public appearances are another great way to make money from a large audience.
Donations: Many podcasts ask their audiences to support them directly. One popular model is to release one “bonus” episode for every regular episode that is accessible to those who support the artist using a crowdfunding platform such as Patreon.
New Pod City will also host a free launch party on Friday, September 27, at 5 p.m. at New Pod City studios at 247 East Front Street in Trenton. On the Web: www.newpodcity.com.