This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Belle Magazine, where I serve as the Features Editor.
“You should start a Chick-fil-A fan podcast,” my husband said.
We were sitting on the granite dome of Table Rock Mountain, relaxing after our rigorous 3-and-a-half-mile hike to the summit. Had I ever recorded a podcast? No. Did I own a microphone? No. But there’s something about seeing the world from 3,000 feet up that makes you feel like anything is possible. And there’s also no cell phone service so when I tried to Google whether something like that already existed the screen of my iPhone came up blank.
“That’s actually a really good idea,” I replied, feeling a charge of excitement through my body. “But there’s probably already like ten of those.”
Being an avid podcast listener, I knew the popularity of podcasts had exploded in recent years. According to Apple there are more than 1 million podcasts with more than 30 million episodes, as of April 2020. That’s almost double the amount that Apple reported back on June 2018.
I also knew that Chick-fil-A’s popularity seemed to be increasing. Sales grow by double digits every year, making them the third-largest restaurant chain in America, according to Nation’s Restaurant News. Founder Truett Cathy didn’t just want customers—he worked hard to create raving fans. These are people who dress up like cows for free sandwiches. (Me.) These are wives who organize surprise birthday parties for their 35-year-old husbands at Chick-fil-A. (Also, me.) These are moms who scrapbook their children’s first nugget. (You guessed it– me.) I figured there’s plenty of people like me who not only love to eat chicken but like to talk about it too.
So, when I got down the mountain I Googled “Chick-fil-A podcast” and came up with nothing. There were a couple of guys reviewing chicken tenders, but no one was producing a weekly show about their love of waffle fries and cows who can’t spell. I realized this was my calling in life. By bedtime I had purchased ChickfilaPodcast.com, hired a web designer and settled on a name. My Pleasure: The Unofficial Chick-fil-A Podcast was born.
I recruited a co-host, started a fan shop, and began to line up interviews. I even selected a launch date, March 14, what would have been founder Truett Cathy’s 99th birthday. Launch day arrived and we built a little buzz. Feedback was great. Our goal of serving up chat, laughs and chicken seemed to be working. People were eating it up.
But then, the pandemic hit. People stopped commuting. Gyms shut down. Moms were no longer sitting in the school pick up line. Do you know when people listen to podcasts most? While commuting, working out and waiting in the car for their kids. Suddenly talking about chicken seemed pretty awkward when people were focused on infectious particles and skyrocketing unemployment. On top of that my well-meaning dad accidentally gave us a 1-star review on Apple Podcasts. (Thanks, Larry!)
But rather than retreat, we pressed on, feeling that now more than ever people might need a distraction and a reason to laugh. I thought about that quote from Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, “There is nothing more precious than laughter.” We didn’t completely ignore what was going on, but we also didn’t dwell on it.
We are now five months in to this podcast adventure and I no longer feel like my calling is silly or inconsequential. A couple that fell in love over waffle fries. A rapper whose Chick-fil-A anthem racked up millions of views. The people who camp in a parking lot for a chance to win a year of free chicken. These are the stories of some of the 3 million customers that visit Chick-fil-A daily. And these are the stories we serve up in the My Pleasure podcast. I may not be saving lives, but helping people find a reason to smile or sparking joy in their day can create a ripple effect that changes that world.
Podcast Listening by the Numbers:
7: Average number of shows people listen to each week, according to Nielsen.
22: Percent of people Nielsen says listen to podcasts while driving.
129,000: Percent growth in the number of podcasts published to Stitcher since 2010.
What the heck is podcasting?
According to Nielsen, one in four people still aren’t familiar with the term “podcasting,” so if that’s you, here’s the Dictionary.com definition: the practice of using the Internet to make digital recordings of broadcasts available for downloading to a computer or mobile device. You can listen to my podcast on pretty much any platform including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.