An attorney explores Ohio's past.

When Alex Hastie was just getting into podcasts a few years ago, the Columbus attorney looked around for a program to teach him about Ohio history. The search didn’t go well. “I searched and searched, and there was nothing out there,” he recalls. So the former history major at the College of Wooster took action. “I decided to fill that void,” he says.

In 2016, Hastie created Ohio v. The World. In the first episode, Hastie interviewed two people who were at Kent State University on May 4, 1970, when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on students protesting the Vietnam War, killing four. “I had no technical skills,” Hastie says of his entry into podcasting, adding he “got a lot of help from the internet and from trial and error. … When I listen to that first episode, I hear all these audio issues.”

Hastie’s podcasting skills and the audio quality of Ohio v. The World have grown by leaps and bounds. “My tip is, don’t skimp on the equipment,” he says of the required microphones, editing software and mixing program.

Meet the people turning Columbus into a hotbed of podcasting.

Here’s another tip from Hastie that’s not so technical: Have fascinating guests talk about interesting topics. For example, a recent episode featured John Dean. Yes, that John Dean, the guy from Watergate, who discussed the 1970s scandal and its current relevancy. “People say that everything that’s happening now is unprecedented, but there’s usually something in the past that’s similar,” Hastie says.

Other episodes have examined the lives of Ohioans George Custer and Annie Oakley; how Ohio women led the suffrage movement; the infamous Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 that helped spark the modern environmental movement; and the story of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil.

Hastie says he gets between 5,000 and 10,000 downloads per episode. “It’s rare now when an author says no, they don’t want to be on the podcast,” he says, adding that publishers now reach out to him. He’s had a sponsor in the past, GoBus, but not this year.

“When I started, my biggest fear was we would run out of history,” Hastie says. “I don’t have that fear anymore.” He does his podcast in seasons, and the 2020 season will focus on the U.S. presidents from Ohio, which is known as the Cradle of Presidents. “And another season will focus on cities around the state.”

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