Northern Kentucky home to leading podcast expert

On Dec. 16, 2005, insurance agent Cliff Ravenscraft sat in his living room in Hebron, Ky., surrounded by computers and a mixing board, and delivered the first episode of "Generally Speaking."
'This is who I am, this is how I discovered podcasting, and these are my top three interests,' Ravenscraft told his audience.  'Technology, faith and the TV show ‘LOST.'”
Ravenscraft, whose podcasting experience was limited to only listening, was unaware that his 11-year stint as an insurance agent was about to end, and within a few years he would become one of the podcasting industry's leading consultants.
After explaining to his audience how "Generally Speaking" would work, Ravenscraft began talking about “LOST.”  Hundreds of people tuned in, many calling in to insist he not talk about technology or faith at all—just his perspective on the TV show.
So the next week Ravenscraft returned with "The Weekly LOST Podcast," a talk show that would garner more than 60,000 subscribers in just one year and launch his career as the Podcast Answer Man.
A difficult transition
Ravenscraft left his insurance career in January 2008 to pursue podcasting—consulting and producing—full time. He had never run a business.
When he wasn't an insurance agent, he was a pastor and an occasional blogger.
"Things were extremely difficult," Ravenscraft says. "I had the hardest time convincing people to hire me."
Unsure how much to charge for consulting and still learning how to connect with potential clients, Ravenscraft began taking calls—usually between two and three per week—and found himself giving out free advice, despite his advertised rate.
"I really struggled with the idea of charging people money for something I loved," Ravenscraft says. "I could talk to people about podcasting from the time I get up to the time I go to bed."
So he began offering advice in the form of weekly podcasts, and after a few months of developing content and answering questions, calls increased in volume and Podcast Answer Man was gaining popularity, making consulting more of an option.
"Once I started becoming consistent, people would start subscribing to my podcast before ever reaching out to me," Ravenscraft says.
By mid-2009, uncertainty turned to eagerness and Ravenscraft had no issues finding clients; rather, they sought him.
Finding Inspiration
It was Ravenscraft's frequent visits to the online ‘LOST’ discussion forums that inspired him. He found plenty of podcasts about the show, and he subscribed to all of them, eliminating ones that either were not serious enough or lacked sufficient audio quality.
Then one day Ravenscraft called in to one of the podcasts and left a voicemail, which was later played on the show. 
"It made me think of the days I used to call into the radio stations here in Cincinnati to request a song and they'd play your voice on the air," Ravenscraft says. "And you try to call all your friends and say, 'Hey, listen to the radio!'"
The host insisted Ravenscraft start his own podcast. Thus "Generally Speaking" was conceived, which would eventually be co-hosted by his wife, Stephanie.
Despite having a general interest in technology, Ravenscraft was concerned by his inability to speak with technical expertise each week, so he decided to combine the three topics—each week changing focus. 
But he found his niche as soon as people began calling in about “LOST.”
"I came back the next week with the second episode and said, 'Hello, welcome to the ‘LOST’ edition of the Generally Speaking Production Network,' Ravenscraft says. "At that moment, I knew I was going to create other podcasts."
Through "The Weekly LOST Podcast," Ravenscraft began receiving emails from viewers that extended beyond the television show, often asking for personal advice. 
"I found that podcasting was giving me an opportunity to really connect with people and have a certain amount of influence in their lives way beyond what I was ever experiencing," Ravenscraft says. "It allowed me to serve people, which is something I feel very called to do, on a much higher level than what I was every able to do as an insurance agent—and I believe I helped lots of people."
Building a sense of community became Ravenscraft's greatest inspiration.
For every "LOST" season premier and finale, the Ravenscrafts would extend an open invitation to their audience to watch the show with them, in their living room.
And for the series finale, Ravenscraft reserved the Hilton Hotel restaurant for a gathering that drew nearly 150 people, traveling from as far as Belgium.

What's next
Ravenscraft, who has now produced more than 30 podcasts and 3,200 episodes, is planning to buy a new home in the area this summer. 
He plans to hold consulting sessions in his new home, in a classroom setting, beginning in July.
"Most of what we'll be doing will be about building an online business," Ravenscraft says. "And I plan on doing some weekend-long 'podcasting A-to-Z' bootcamps."
While Ravenscraft's business is still evolving, he remains most interested in what people can accomplish through audio-podcasting.
"My goal is to help people understand I'm not just in this for the technical side of it," Ravenscraft says. "We have the opportunity to build relationships with people in ways that no other medium online can offer."
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Read more articles by Kyle Stone.

Kyle is a freelance writer based in Cincinnati. When he isn't writing, he's making music, riding his bike and taking photos of his adventures.