A podcast provides healing.

This is the premise behind The One You Feed, created in 2014 by Eric Zimmer, who struggled to feed his good wolf. At the age of 24, he was a homeless heroin addict facing a prison sentence. He eventually found and began feeding his good wolf and turned his life around. “I wanted to do a podcast where I interviewed people about what living a good life means to them,” he says, adding that most of these people are the authors of self-help and spiritual guidance books. “The first few episodes were nerve-wracking, reaching out to people I didn’t know and asking them to come on a show that didn’t exist yet.”

Zimmer, 49, who is also a life coach, persisted, and The One You Feed has grown into a very successful podcast. “We’re close to 15 million downloads,” he says.

Meet the people turning Columbus into a hotbed of podcasting.

Recent episodes have explored depression, living with chronic pain, navigating romantic relationships and addiction. “My goal is to help listeners feel less alone with whatever they’re going through and have some tools to deal better with the situations in their lives,” Zimmer says. “I started the podcast because I wanted to help myself, and it remains a privilege and honor to help others.”

Publishers now reach out to Zimmer, trying to book their authors on his podcast. They often send a list of questions to ask—which Zimmer ignores. He reads each book and comes up with his own questions. “When they find I’ve read their work and am interested in it, they’ll go deeper, and we can engage in a meaningful way.”

The secret to the success of this podcast is hard work. Zimmer estimates it takes 15 to 20 hours to produce each episode, with the help of Chris Forbes, a longtime friend with a recording background.

The One You Feed has paying sponsors. “Early on, we went out and found our own sponsors,” Zimmer says. Now, he uses wondery.com. “If you have enough downloads—I’ve heard 5,000 to 10,000 per episode—they go out and find sponsors for you.”

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