How I Turned My Passion for Sound into a Purpose-Driven Podcast Company

By Michelle Khouri, FRQNCY Founder & CEO

What is it about sound that can so swiftly sway us? My love affair with the aural sense came to life at the same moment I did – when muffled inner-belly sounds were replaced by the crystal clear clashes, clangs, and clamors of an external world. I spent the first half of my life obsessed with music – first, as a passive listener, then, more actively as a singer; and finally (or so I thought), as a hopeful artists and repertoire intern for Interscope Records. I’ll spare you the arduous details of how my bubble burst once I peeked behind the big-label curtain. The point is that no matter what form it took, sound enraptured me.

My entree into podcasting now seems inevitable.

Fast forward to adulthood, when after a decade-long career in marketing, I found myself telling stories on a daily basis as the editor of Where Atlanta Magazine. Finally, a place where I could express my deep yearning to tell human stories. However, I soon found that my role as an editor often required me to cut stories down to the bare minimum. I started looking for new avenues of storytelling that would allow me to connect with my subjects more deeply.

I quit my job as a magazine editor and started Creative Powerhouse, a boutique marketing agency fueled by my insatiable desire to build something of my own. I searched for my next creative outlet, and was once again drawn to the power of sound. My creative gaze naturally turned to podcasts.

After spending dozens of hours researching “how to start a podcast” and clunkily teaching myself how to record and edit raw audio, I launched The Cultured Podcast in August of 2017. Finally, I had found a way to connect with people who inspired me – artists and creators – with the hope that telling their stories would help to inspire others. Two years later, Cultured has become one of my most fulfilling creative endeavors.

Listen to The Cultured Podcast by Michelle Khouri

Starting my own podcast became my gateway.

Working on Cultured ultimately resulted in a masters-level crash course about this nascent podcast industry on the cusp of a boom. I devoured news about the industry everyday. I experimented with graphic design, digital marketing, and web design tailored for podcasts. I designed the logo and website for Cultured, and implemented new content strategies based on how my audience interacted with the podcast. Soon, a third of Creative Powerhouse’s projects were for podcasters – creating their marketing strategy, designing their logos, and building their websites.

Forklore Podcast website designed and built by Michelle Khouri/Creative Powerhouse

It was during this period of intense learning that I grew painfully aware of the gaps in the podcast industry. While podcasting has a 15-year history that runs parallel with the Internet boom, it is in many ways a young medium going through a period of rapid, somewhat undirected growth.

As the market for podcasts continued to grow, I saw a proliferation of media companies, typically in radio, music, or some other form of audio storytelling, spot the revenue opportunities and haphazardly try to capitalize on them. I saw them approach podcast production with arrogance and a seeming disregard for podcasting as its own medium with its own distinct audience and tone.

I continued seeing these so-called podcast producers taking people’s hard-earned money only to make them a radio show (rather than a podcast) or gritty-sounding, sloppily edited pieces of audio. I felt frustrated and angry. This was someone’s vision, someone’s message, someone’s investment they were playing with. I knew my team and I could do better.

And so I took a quantum leap.

I saw a clear opportunity to create a new source of expertise, guidance, and community building for podcasters. I founded FRQNCY Media in the summer of 2018 with the goal of democratizing high-quality and intentional podcast production. I needed to find a way to allow nearly anyone to access a recording studio, a sound engineer, professional editors and sound designers, and a team of content strategists that could put your investment to work for you.

I wanted to create a company that made its customers feel as connected to our mission as we feel to their vision. And so FRQNCY was born.

Our name is inspired by my fascination with quantum physics. Superstring Theory tells us that everything in the universe is made up of tiny vibrating strings. These ultra-microscopic strings join together when their vibrations match, the result of which is matter, consciousness, and everything – visible and invisible – that makes up our world. According to this theory, then, everything in our known universe gives off its own frequency.

And so, the driving motivation of FRQNCY Media is to align with and amplify the frequencies that heal, enlighten, entertain, and inspire. This is our way of making the world a high-vibrational place.

FRQNCY Media is fueled by a greater purpose.

Almost a year since founding FRQNCY, we have proven time and again that we have the gall – and passion – to do it all. We dare to be the place where independent creators, small business owners, and big brands come to receive the education, guidance, and technical expertise they need to produce pristine and impactful audio content.

We did it for Apple and the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

We did it for The Coca-Cola Company.

We’re doing it for SalesLoft, The Freeing Energy Project, and Launchpad2X.

We’re doing it for the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. And for Erin Gendron, a stay-at-home mom of two.

And we’re doing it for Unladylike Media, our feminist podcasting heroes.

And by “it,” I mean services that range from comparative research and content strategy, to pilot development and production, to marketing and audience engagement. It also means we aren’t just targeting one price point or type of customer, but rather have built a business model that meets every kind of podcaster wherever they are in their journey.

If you have the resources and need to bring us on as an extension of your team, we’ll meet you with full-service production.

If you’re ready to invest in quality production and expert post-production, but aren’t quite ready for full-service help, we’ll meet you with a 10-episode production package.

If you want to learn how to make a podcast the way FRQNCY does it for all those aforementioned people and brands, we’ll meet you with our affordable online courses.

That’s what sets our Wavelength apart.

I alone could never have made a vision like FRQNCY into a booming reality. The “we” behind FRQNCY includes a team of strategists, designers, producers, and engineers who are the extraordinary souls that make FRQNCY the best-in-class podcast production company that it is. My FRQNCY Fam leaves me in awe constantly, and I am eternally grateful for their passion, hard work, and determination.

Together, we operate with humility and respect for the podcast industry and its creators. We started this journey by asking podcasters what their needs were, and we will continue listening more than talking.

We value kindness, thoughtfulness, and intention in everything we do. And at FRQNCY, we believe that diverse perspectives strengthen our world beyond measure, so we are dedicated to bringing diverse and underrepresented voices to the forefront through our work in the podcast medium. This part of our mission is especially personal. I am a first-generation American Latina, after all.

That’s a taste of how we got here and where we’re going. I hope you’ll follow along as we continue on our sonic adventure.

Welcome to the Wavelength,

Michelle

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