"My job is to help the podcaster build a brand and a listenership,” says Will Foskey, the recently named president of New Pod City in Trenton.
“My major focus is to align myself with the podcast host and give them an advocate. I’m receiving the phone calls from the host, the emails from the host, and the doing the schedule that allows the owner to take this to another level.”
“This” is one of the NPC’s podcasts, a regularly scheduled audio recorded discussion hosted by a specific individual or team and focusing on a specific topic and released on websites or streaming services.
The “owner” is the host who produces the podcast by contracting NPC’s audio studio services and distribution platform.
Sitting at the microphoned table at NPC’s studio at 247 Front Street, Foskey says that his position as the company’s first president began on September 1 and is contracted to August 31, 2022.
To clarify his role, he says, “I’m president of the network. Frank (Sasso) is the owner of New Pod City.”
Sasso is a New York City transplant who moved to Trenton and started NPC with his own podcast, “Trenton Waves,” in 2019. The weekly program features interviews and discussions with Trenton personalities and political leaders.
With a background in computer graphics, Sasso has woven a career that includes art and business. Clients have included the Disney Corporation and Nickelodeon. His entry to the world of podcasting started in 2010 with a religious themed show. He then began imagining podcasts that would interest him and others while doing routine work.
The result was a company that supports not only “Trenton Waves” but other producers interested in creating podcasts. The company also provides support in hosting, coaching, branding, artwork, voiceovers, and social media posting — with various rates listed on the company website.
“The core service is to provide distribution and branding,” says Foskey. “The local hosts are able to come in the studio to book their shows and have all-around support.”
He says he is there to help hosts grow.”
Foskey says he met Sasso in 2018 when their mutual friend, photographer and Artworks and Trent House board member James Peeples, invited him to a meeting with Sasso at the downtown Trenton Starbucks — incidentally across the street from Foskey’s apartment.
“We clicked,” says Foskey, adding that when Sasso heard that he needed furniture immediately invited him to his South Trenton home and put a sofa in his car. “It’s the type of friendship you dream of,” says Foskey.
He says Sasso eventually “had so much to work with and needed another voice” and the “trust factor” between them made it possible for the founder to delegate duties. Summing up that bond and trust, Foskey says, “When I say I’m in the room, he’s in the room.”
Turning to NPC’s activity, he says, “We have 15 active shows on our network. We could have to up 30.” And between the shows “Dear Sis,” “92 Roll,” and “Trenton Waves,” he says the company is “closing in on 2 million subscribers.”
Those numbers gleaned from services such as Podcast.com seem to have attracted sponsors. “Shure microphone is sponsoring this studio,” Foskey says pointing to new equipment. “Puma sneakers is advertising on all our network podcasts” and providing each producer some production revenue.
The first NPC employee outside Sasso and his partner, wife Christina, Foskey mixes his duties with those of a state job and with his own business, 78 Ways Studio.
It specializes in portraits, corporate headshots, family portraits, and video recording weddings and events.
About the number 78, he says, “That’s my birth year. It’s a lucky number for me. It’s something about that birth year and (the film) ‘Superman’ being released. It was just something that popped in my head. It suggested options.” And to increase his clientele, he emphasizes the words “fully insured.”
Foskey says clients have included the Father’s Center, Anchor House, and advising area churches regarding web streaming and working with other companies providing like services, including Rob Bullington’s Front Row Seat Productions.
“I am from Trenton, New Jersey,” he says about his background. “I was born at Helene Fuld (Medical Center). I’ve lived in all four wards. And I have lived in downtown for the 12 years.”
He says his career work started unexpectedly. First, at Trenton Central High School where he was involved with the school’s audio-visual studio and taped football games and the school’s annual Sport Nights.
He later used those skills to land a job in the Princeton area’s Merrill Lynch audio visual department, where he encountered another opportunity through a coworker turned mentor: Jamell Powell who was building a career as DJ Slow Jam Powell.
Foskey says he was trying to be a rapper, and Powell knew the business and had written a book, “How To Make Your Music Business, Hot.”
“That turned me on and I’d go to shows with him,” says Foskey. “He gave me a list of emails and said, ‘You should write a newsletter.’ That’s where it started. I would not have tried without him.”
Foskey says he slowly found he had become a music journalist. “I interviewed everyone from Baby Face to Puff Daddy to Jason Mraz to Jon Bon Jovi. It was all hustle. I don’t have a music degree. I started writing for some online publications and built myself up.”
In the process he became an editor of Expose, out of Arizona, a contributor to American Song Writer, and a page six columnist for the Trentonian newspaper.
He says his visual influences come from watching as many movies and looking at as many magazines with photographs as possible as well viewing YouTube tutorials and equipment reviews.
He also credits the earlier mentioned Peeples, whom he calls a mentor and says, “I’m indebted by the knowledge he gave me and the people he introduced me to. If there is someone whom I look up to, it is James Peeples.”
Looking at the immediate future, Foskey says he he’s looking for “new ways to build listenership. Finding ways for each of our shows to build more friends and expand their brands. It’s always about listenerships.”
He says currently he’s working “to get shows to work together, collaborations between hosts.”
As an example he first mentions the NPC podcast “Your Valuable Home,” where hosts Kevin Kennedy and Ron Melk share a combined 70 years of experience related to real estate. He then mixes them with the hosts of “Rich and Tim Unleashed,” billed as “Two middle-aged men with a lotta $h!+ to say.”
He says the combination would result in a fresh episode that each host could use and potentially attract new audiences for each.
He says the effort is to enhance the “vibe of family and friends” already at NPC.
Assessing his current situation, Foskey says, “When I became president, people were reaching out nationally. We made an impact in POD 21 in Nashville. And I know people are watching. I don’t know many African American presidents of networks.”
Looking at the months ahead he says, “We have an event called Podstock, a pod convention. It will bring podcasting professionals to Trenton. We have the date and time but not the venue.
“And I’m hoping to change podcasting for the tri-state area. I want to continue to grow our network. I have two groups that we just signed on, sports and sneaker culture. They fill gaps in our network and cover the complete gamut (of programming).
“In my first year I want people to say, ‘he took New Pod City to another level.’ I want to be a representative who expands everything we do out of the Trenton office.”
After taking a brief pause, he says, “I have ideas all day long. But it’s all about execution. And we have execution.”
For more information on New Pod City and Will Foskey, visit www.newpodcity.com.