As I enter the final stretch of my term and reflect on my NARSA/IDEA presidency, I have come to realize that no two are alike, and every past president has experienced unique challenges. Whether it be transitions in management, changing membership demographics, or navigating a new regulatory environment, every presidency has challenges that define it. Every president has had to rise to his unique challenges. While only time will tell us if we have made the proper decisions, I certainly feel that the NARSA/IDEA Board has made the best decisions we could make considering the significant challenges we were presented with. So, when we were handed the proverbial lemons in the form of canceled events and restricted travel, we attempted to do as past Boards have done prior and make lemonade.
With newfound time on our hands, we decided to strengthen our social media presence and worldwide outreach. One of the ideas that came out of this was to start a podcast. I have been a podcast addict for at least eight years now and thought it would be an interesting platform for our niche audience. For those of you not familiar with a podcast, it is on-demand radio. And since podcasts are produced digitally and distributed on the internet, there are much lower barriers to entry than traditional terrestrial radio. As a result, there are over two million podcasts on every niche topic imaginable. Into bow hunting? A quick search yielded at least eight podcasts dedicated to bowhunting. Want to listen to a show about welding? There are at least 15 just in English. This ability to cost effectively produce a program geared to a super niche audience is something that simply was not possible to do before.
Our vision for this was multi-pronged. Above all, we wanted to preserve the history of our industry in a format that would be available essentially forever. There are many stories from old timers that unfortunately will cease once those that knew these legends are no longer with us. I specifically remember listening to stories from Bruce Huffman at NARSA events and leaving not only entertained, but with a bunch of ideas on how to improve my shop. Mr. Huffman, owner of Huffman Radiator in Corpus Christi, Texas, was truly a unique person and could tell a story like no other. Unfortunately, Mr. Huffman passed away in 2015, and I only wish we would have had the opportunity to have him on the podcast to share with future generations.
The ability to preserve the story of our members in their own words for the benefit of generations to come is something that I think is important. We are fortunate to have some great characters in this industry and being able to hear these stories long into the future is truly a benefit for all members current and future. We wanted to capture these interesting stories so that anyone in the world would have access to them and be able to benefit from their experience.
Secondly, we wanted to profile people in our industry who are running innovative and successful businesses in a variety of markets. The most important aspect of NARSA/IDEA is the sharing and dissemination of ideas. We have had the good fortune of interviewing members from all over the world including Mike’s Radiator in Zimbabwe and G & M radiator in Scotland. All our guests bring a unique take to running a business in their particular environment. We try to learn more about not only their successes, but their failures and how they overcame them. At the end of the day, it is our hope that our listeners can get at least one idea or tip from our guests’ vast experiences in the industry.
Lastly, we wanted to establish an easily accessible forum where experts could discuss niche topics at length. We were grateful to Joe Long from Old World Industries for doing a really informative interview on coolants. I learned more on that show about coolants than in any other format. I highly encourage our members to check that episode out as learning about the latest technology could save you a lot of trouble with warranties or potentially land you a client if you are able to solve their coolant related issues. We hope to bring more guests to speak about technical topics of interest to our members in this upcoming season.
Without much experience we endeavored to produce a podcast and “Solder & Soot” was born. My co-host Mark Taylor and I proceeded to learn how to host a podcast. Linda Skoglund learned how to produce a podcast. Together, we learned the finer points of pre- and post-production, sound checks, and editing all of this into something that we thought our members might find value in. At first, I was not sure if we would ever make more than a few episodes, but alas we completed Season 1 and have kicked off Season 2 with a two-part interview with Frank Finger, a pioneer in radiator distribution in the United States. We are really looking forward to Season 2 of the podcast and have some interesting guests lined up.
I would like to especially thank our producer Linda Skoglund for making the podcast come to life as well as managing to make two radiator guys sound somewhat professional! I’d also like to thank my co-host Mark Taylor for going down yet another journey with me and believing this could work. He truly has a voice for radio and may have missed his calling.
I am so proud of the “Solder & Soot” podcast and encourage all our members to check it out. Our episodes are easily accessible on your smartphone or computer through Apple podcast, Spotify, Anchor.fm, and other podcast platforms.
You can also find all of our episodes on https://narsa-idea.org/podcast/
This editorial was originally published in the August/September issue of The Cooling Journal