DadGum is a biweekly podcast offering original thoughtful infotainment, narrative stories, and conversations for the father of young children, with the goal of fostering his parental engagement, helping maintain a healthy relationship with his partner, and providing a sense of confidence about managing work-life balance.
Problem and Solution
Demographic shifts have led to newly shared responsibilities for two-parent households, with men now playing a more active parenting role. With women increasingly joining the workforce and with new scientific evidence showing that fathers play an important role in the development of their children, men are now taking greater responsibility in roles once thought of as women’s work. The American Psychological Association reports that 21st-century father is no longer expected to maintain just the traditional role of breadwinner and disciplinarian; he also helps with changing diapers, taxiing the little ones to school and ballet classes, soothing late-night scream sessions, and participating in education.  As the Pew Research Center reported, parental roles of fathers and mothers have begun to “converge.”
And while this shift is taking place, fathers have few examples and support systems to guide them through these expanded roles. The changing role of motherhood has been well covered by the news media and through popular media. Anne-Marie Slaughter’s seminal Atlantic article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All” tackled the difficulties of trying to be a working professional and a dedicated mother. The blogosphere and social media are filled with information, stories and virtual communities by and for mothers. Even general parenting magazines and news sites tend to be aimed at mothers. This could be because mothers are more likely to seek this information than fathers or, more likely, because no one is effectively targeting fathers.
In obvious and not-so-obvious ways, becoming a father is a transformational experience. New joys, worries, time commitments, sleep deprivation, and exposure to someone else’s bodily functions arise from becoming a parent. But the experiences of mothers and fathers can be very different—for both biological and cultural reasons. And so, while societal trends and scientific evidence are changing the roles of fathers for the better, there is little to no media offerings helping guide dads through this uncharted territory.
The solution is clear. Fathers, particularly the new and expectant variety, need information and popular entertainment directed at them that can help navigate new fatherhood. But it’s not just information—the World Wide Web is full of content and advice, both good and bad, for everything under the sun. So fathers need that information in a voice, style, and format that they can understand, enjoy, and trust.
Podcasts may be the best venue to reach fathers’ distracted lifestyles with this content. With work, childcare, and home chores all vying for fathers’ visual attention, podcasts can be listened to during those few quiet moments of commuting, getting out for a jog, or driving around in the car trying to get the baby to sleep.
DadGum is something to chew over for dad. While aimed at a sophisticated audience, DadGum isn’t above a corny joke, a silly game, or an emotional story. The format focuses on three areas:
- Journalistic articles examining parenting and relationship advice from experts and scientific studies broken down into entertaining, understandable, but not oversimplified segments.
- Short narrative stories (fiction and nonfiction) that reflect the range of experiences for fathers.
- Relevant pop culture conversations such as “In what order to show your kids the Star Wars saga” and “How to find tolerable kid-friendly music.”
Podcasts are having their moment. According to the Pew Research Center’s State of the News Media, podcast listening is on the rise. “The increased reach and upward trend line of podcast consumption is evident in every available measure—the percentage of Americans who are listening to podcasts, the level of public awareness, and how many podcasts are being hosted and downloaded.”
Here are some key stats to think about in terms of the rise of podcasts and their continued potential for growth:
- Smartphone sales continue to soar and so does consumption of mobile content.
- Podcast listeners are habitual consumers. According to the Kapost Blog, one in four podcast listeners plug their MP3 player or smartphone into their car at least once a day, and “podcast consumers often become regular listeners on specific podcasts.”
- Twenty percent of podcast listeners are in the 25-34 age range, which is when men usually become new fathers. So DadGum’s target audience is likely to be interested in podcasts.
- Podcast listeners are willing to listen to advertisements during programming, according to the media testing firm Edison Research.
The rising popularity of podcasts and their dad-friendly trends coupled with the changing role of fathers makes this the perfect time to launch a podcast to reach dads.
DadGum is directed at a niche audience: sophisticated working fathers of younger children. The average age for first-time fathers in the U.S. is 25, and it tilts higher for the middle-class and college-educated. DadGum is targeted toward older millennials and younger Gen Xers (about 27-37), who are college educated, working professionals with children from pre-term to 10.
Sophistication defined: DadGum aims to reflect a progressive and research-based approach to parenting. The podcast promotes an active role for fathers while acknowledging that moms and dads have something different to offer their children. The content is against corporal punishment and very much in favor of pediatrician-recommended vaccinations. Although the founder is a married, heterosexual father and the podcast is directed toward men, DadGum is welcoming of all types of parents.
The targeted age range (27-37) is heavily engaged in mobile content, and specifically in podcasts. Podcast listeners in this group tend to be active on social media and loyal to their favorite content.
Moreover, podcasts are perfect for working adults as they commute to and from their office. And in this regard, podcasts are poised to grow even more as car manufacturers continue to develop vehicles with new tools for mobile connectivity. And any parent knows that the introduction of children is likely to require the purchase of a new car.
“As long as you can dominate a particular niche, it’s not too late to start a show,” Jordan Harbinger, the founder of the podcast The Art of Charm.
Daddy podcasts are out there; so are websites and blogs about fatherhood. But no one has cornered the market yet.
Looking through the digital media landscape, there are a few outlets that produce strong content directed at dads. One of the best is Fatherly, a website that mixes pop culture sensibilities with journalism and advice. Taking a page from BuzzFeed, Fatherly produces pithy articles and listicles with advice for dads.
So far, no podcast is leading the way for content for fathers. But there are a handful of fatherhood podcasts that target a range of DadGum’s audience. BeardyDads is pretty much a British version of DadGum, a show aimed at sophisticated dads. There are other shows that target dads but a different audience, like the lowbrow Dadcast and the earnestly highbrow PediaCast. These shows, and others, like the Life of Dad Show, which features two Middle America fathers chatting about various specific topics, are more inspired by talk radio than by the journalistic storytelling style of DadGum.
Our competitive advantage comes from style and talent. DadGum founder Aaron Hale—that’s me—has been a professional journalist and storyteller for nearly 10 years, and a dad almost two years. Trained in both feature-writing and research-writing, I know how to tell a compelling story with humor and emotional strength; I also know how to get to the heart of scientific research results, and translate findings to audiences in a way that others can relate to. A former drama major, I know how to deliver an entertaining performance to the writing alive.
This writing and performance background is important for DadGum because it is not a 20-minute radio talk show in which some guy blabs whatever pops into his had at the moment he sits down with his mic. The podcast is structured, scripted and has a story to tell. Like popular NPR radio shows and podcasts like This American Life, The Dinner Party Download, and Radiolab, DadGum features a cross-section of interviews, research stories, and storytelling with a distinctive voice that delivers humor, self-deprecation, thoughtfulness, and drama.
The first step to getting the project started is to create five 25-minute-long episodes. Each episode will be broken up into sections:
- News/Advice: A breakdown of news or scientific studies about parenting and fatherhood.
- Q&A: Interviews with a parenting expert, a dad or a spouse.
- Story: Narrative about fatherhood or parenting. In the beginning these pieces will be written by me, but a few months in, there is a small amount of money set aside to pay for freelance stories.
- Conversation: Relevant pop culture conversations such as “What order do show your kids the Star Wars saga” and “How to find tolerable kid-friendly music.”
Once the podcasts are produced, they will be uploaded to the podcasting service Libsyn, which can send the episodes to podcast streaming services such as iTunes and Stitcher. Libsyn also hosts podcast websites.
Wireframe illustration credit: “Father with Baby” Alfredo Rodriguez, Getty Images.
Web page sketch.
The first-year goal of DadGum is to build an audience, establish a reputation for entertaining and helpful information, and to begin transitioning to seeking revenue at year’s end. As the DadGum brand builds, there will be an opportunity for additional revenue through merchandising (t-shirts and mugs), speaking engagements, and possibly a book.
DadGum will start off as a sole proprietorship operation to keep things simple. Efforts will be made to keep costs low. Fortunately, high-quality podcasts can be produced on a small budget. I estimate I will be able to finance the first-year operation at under $8,000 by doing most of the work myself.
The podcast will be financed from a family investor for $10,000. This will leave about $2,000 to be used for unforeseen costs or new opportunities. This investor has agreed to defer repayment until after the first year.
As owner and producer, I will forgo a salary in the beginning and continue to work full time until DadGum is poised to be taken to the next level.
With this small budget, the goal is to be as lean as possible, relying on do-it-yourself hustle, endless amounts of information available on the Web, and social connections to get episodes up and running.
To keep costs low, I will use free and discounted software options when it doesn’t significantly reduce quality. For example, I’ll use the free GarageBand app on my personal MacBook for sound-editing software instead of paying the $20 monthly subscription for Adobe’s Audition. And as I work out the kinks in audio production, I can use audio processing through the freemium service Auphonic. Recording will happen at home, and when appropriate at University of Georgia spaces since I have access to studio space as a student and university employee. I will also be responsible for first-year marketing through social media channels. And a family friend will help with accounting.
The bulk of the starting costs will go toward getting incorporated (about $1,00o) and purchasing recording equipment, aiming toward the reliable but not overly costly.
In first eight months, I will focus on laying the foundation to produce the podcast, launching the first five episodes, and then building a loyal audience by staying in the iTunes “New and Noteworthy” section, constructing a big email list, and using social media promotion. I will rely on the podcasting service Libsyn for distributing the podcast to the appropriate platforms, tracking listening data and Web-hosting for just $15 a month.
A freelance budget has been created to cover the cost of new stories and additional voices that will be used as the podcast matures. These other stories will take some of the pressure off me, and allow me to promote the DadGum.
In addition, I will be seeking a business partner in the first year, who – depending on the needs of the organization – can help with the business and marketing of the operation. I will be prepared to offer equity in the organization to a qualified partner.
Podcasts are free, and revenue is not an immediate priority. Once DadGum has established a loyal audience of regular followers in the first year, then it can begin to transition to affiliate advertising revenue and possibly merchandising revenue.
 Brott, Amrin A. and Ash, Jennifer. The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips and Advice for Dads-to-Be. Third Edition. Abbeville Press: New York, 2010.
 Comments from Mandi Woodruff