Tina Tilton’s production studio, The Podcast Center, is one of the latest businesses to benefit from the Downtown Memphis Commission’s Open on Main initiative, which offers retail space — rent and utility-free — to promising local businesses for one year. The Podcast Center’s downtown spot is actually its second location, and it’s a one-stop shop for audiovisual production: radio, TV, and, of course, podcasts. We caught up with Tina to hear about the fascinating circumstances that inspired The Podcast Center, her own weekly podcast, and more!
Are you from Memphis originally?
I am from Memphis. Born and raised in South Memphis, which is considered a rough neighborhood. Most citizens do not expect anything good to come from where I’m from … but it did!
Tell us a bit about your background. How and when did you first discover your passion for broadcasting?
I first realized I had a passion for broadcasting after being denied the lead role in a holiday play in elementary school. I was in a few plays in high school, but it wasn’t until I got to college that I really “knew” that broadcasting was what I wanted to do. I can recall being frustrated over what career path to choose when I stumbled upon a video music show on cable where they were interviewing celebrities. At that point, I knew I wanted to pursue a job as a video jockey.
Tell us about the journey to opening The Podcast Center.
I once leased a low-power TV station for four years, and due to an FCC-mandated rule that required smaller stations to give up their bandwidth, I was forced to relinquish the station. As I sat at my home angry, bitter, frustrated, and slightly depressed, I wondered what I could do where I had FULL control. Where no one would fire me again because I would own it. Then, in late 2018, the idea came to me — open a production company where people could get a TV show filmed for the lowest rate in town.
I realized I had sub-par cameras and microphones with no facility, but that didn’t stop me. I knew I had to step out on faith. I searched Craigslist for a venue and found one in Bartlett. I signed a lease but knew that I had to get updated equipment. I had no finances to do such — we only had two clients at the time. What do I do? I contacted the school system and worked as a substitute teacher from 2018 to 2020 to fund the equipment needed.
In January 2020, we were ready for business, so I scheduled a grand opening of The Podcast Center in February 2020. We had a good turnout, but the unexpected happened in March 2020 — COVID. What do I do now? The world had shut down … but after months and months of watching television and staying aware of the shift in our society, I realized that people were now doing what they call ““treaming virtually.” Society began to use this new form of communication to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones.
So I thought to myself, “We can do that! We can offer show hosts — particularly churches since they were closed down — the opportunity to stay connected with their congregation virtually.” We re-opened, and it quickly took off. That’s how the Bartlett location came to be.
The Downtown location came about from a dear friend of mine who owns Christie Taylor Consulting. She received an email about the ‘Open On Main’ initiative and suggested I apply. Surprisingly enough, we were chosen for our “second” location. This location is much bigger, and it has that “modern” podcast look and feel to it. We will be in the downtown space until at least August 2024, but we are looking to make the best of it while we have it.
What can folks expect when they book studio time at The Podcast Center?
At The Podcast Center, we engage our customers through a simple and straightforward process that takes them from the initial consultation to the final product. Here are the steps we take.
Discovery. The first step in working with The Podcast Center is a discovery call. During this call, we learn more about the goals of the business or individual, discuss the type of content they would like to create and begin the ideation process to develop the show.
Proposal. Based on the initial consultation, we create a customized proposal outlining the scope of work, timeline, and project cost.
Pre-Production. Once the client accepts our proposal, we begin the pre-production process. This includes developing a content plan, scripting, guest research, and equipment setup.
Recording. We schedule a time for the client to come into our studio or for us to record at an offsite location of their choice. We ensure the recording process is seamless and comfortable for the client.
Post-Production. After the recording is complete, our team of professionals edit and produce the final product. We add music, sound effects, and other elements to enhance the audio quality and experience of the listener or viewer.
Delivery. Once the final product is complete, we deliver it to the client in a format that aligns with their distribution strategy. We also provide clients with marketing materials and strategies to promote and boost their podcasts.
Support. We offer ongoing support to ensure the client’s podcast continues to meet their goals. We provide monthly analytics and recommendations to help them enhance their content and increase engagement with their audience.
Overall, The Podcast Center provides a comprehensive and professional approach to podcast development, production, and distribution. Our team of experts is committed to helping clients create high-quality content that meets their business or personal goals.
What are your favorite podcasts?
I will have to be biased here, but my favorite podcast is The Taylor Tilton Show, which can be heard on all audio platforms, as well as social media every Tuesday at 9 a.m. CST and on Bumpin 96.3 FM Memphis every Sunday at 3 p.m. CST.
The Taylor Tilton Show is hosted by yours truly and my good friend Christie Taylor. We have discussions on how two 50-year-old Black women view life. I’m married with one child and a dog. Christie is completely single (at this time). Therefore, we see life from two different perspectives most times.
Do you have a favorite project to date?
My favorite project is one where I can hold my head up high and say no one is offering what we’re offering in our city, and that is a program called Beyond The Pod. This is a unique service because we partner with Flinn Broadcasting (a local radio station) and Comcast TV, and we help them monetize their unused airtime by placing podcasters on their station.
Currently, we manage and operate two radio stations for Flinn Broadcasting — Bumpin 96.3 Throwback Hip Hop and Right On Radio 87.7 Classic R&B and Soul — and we distribute televised podcasts throughout the Comcast Southeast region. Long story short, we produce podcasts and then distribute them on traditional radio and TV. This really has proven to be a successful marketing tool for most businesses and individuals.
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
I am inspired the most by my family and friends. My husband, mom, dad, siblings, as well as my team are all super supporters of what I do. At any time when an inspirational word is needed, one or more has the strength that I need to help me get through that moment.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“Write your plans and goals in pencil. They may change.” – MOM
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced in getting The Podcast Center off the ground?
I believe I am about to repeat the answer many small businesses have when they are trying to get off their feet, and that is finances. The Podcast Center, previously named Tina Tilton Productions, has been around since 2016, but we were struggling financially at the beginning. Three of us took part-time jobs as substitute teachers while we pursued this audio and video production thing after hours.
And as previously stated, when COVID hit, we knew we would only be doing podcast work moving forward. So here we are!
Last delicious local meal: Krab Kingz
Favorite vacation spot: Paris Landing — there’s nothing to do there, and that’s what I want.
Book(s) on your bedside table: The Holy Bible
Aside from faith, family, and friends, name three things you can’t live without: Apple Now and Laters, Big League Chew Bubble Gum, and Original Flavor Skinny Pop Popcorn.
Thanks, Tina! We can’t wait to see what’s next for you.
All photography provided by The Podcast Center.
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