Episode 23: Saddling Up to Podcast with John Harrer
Episode 23: Saddling Up to Podcast with John Harrer
John Harrer and his wife Ranae host the Whoa Podcast about Horses and Horsemanship. Podcasts about horses are few and far between, and the Whoa Podcast was an early entry into the medium. Over the last five years and more than 165 episodes in, the Harrers have carved a place in the podcast space. They interview horse people from all walks of life and equine disciplines, introducing listeners to interesting horsemen and women. The weekly show is practical and entertaining. Both hosts are avid horse enthusiasts themselves, so listeners follow along with their adventures in training, trail rides and travel.
Abigail met John a few years ago by chance at a horse event—America’s first campdrafting event—it’s an Australian competition something like a mix between team sorting and working cow horse. We were both covering the event for different publications, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He’s an active member of our Freelance Remuda Facebook Group, and a great resource for us as we’ve navigated our first year as podcasters. We look forward to hearing about how he started The Whoa Podcast, and how he’s developed it over the years. John, welcome to the show!
First off, tell us about your horses, and what you like to do with them! Ranae has a 20-year-old Quarter Horse gelding, John has a 17-year-old Quarter Horse mare and a Wild Horse of Oak Creek, which he started and trained himself at age 61. The Harrers love to ride everyday, particularly trail riding around their home in Bakersfield, California.
You broke into podcasting when the medium was in its infancy. What made you decide to start the Whoa Podcast? Ranae had owned a horse for 25 years and she rode for fun. John gota horse at age 51. After each ride, the couple would sit in their garden and review their riding session. They wanted to learn more and more about horsemanship. A big fan of Clinton Anderson, John decided to podcast about their journey growing with horsemanship.
What are some of the challenges you faced getting your podcast off the ground? The couple quickly decided they wanted guests on the show to share their wisdom. Podcasting was not well-known and John was new to the horse industry. It was difficult to get guests on the show early on, and it was tough getting listeners from the horse community because of technology barriers.
How do you plan your content and interviews? What’s your goal for the podcast? John follows the topics that interest him personally about horsemanship. The goal is to expose the average horse owners with as much information about horses as possibly. The couple feels that the more you know about horses, the more you will enjoy getting out with your horse.
How has your podcast grown and changed over the years? People are more familiar with podcasting now, and it's easier to get guests for the show. The Harrers are now a bit comfortable sharing about themselves and being vulnerable about their horsemanship journey behind the microphone.
Tell us about a memorable guest you’ve had on the show? Baxter Black, Rick Lamb, Tommie Turvey, Warrick Schiller, Doug Williamson...Clinton Anderson was an inspiration for the formation of the podcast, and he appeared on the 100th episode of the show! It was surreal interviewing his "virtual mentor" Clinton. The most fun show for John was rodeo performer/mustang trainer Bobby Kerr.
You are also a freelancer. How do you dovetail your podcast with your freelance writing and photography, if at all? Before John started podcasting, he was the owner of a retail business for 30 years. His first freelance gig was the camp draft event coverage where he met Abigail. He covered the event for an Australian magazine. He provided a pre-event podcast, a comprehensive article with photos, a recap and a post-event podcast. Australians visiting the US competed in the camp draft, and John was proud to have put up the footage of them competing with a very short turnaround. He thought he was off to a great freelancing start, but soon he realized that he needed to beef up his knowledge and experience to write and photograph for horse magazines. So he enrolled in writing courses, photography courses and a writing group. He even joined Toastmasters. The podcast has dovetailed into getting audio and video production work, as well as horse and people training gigs. He has also gotten ranch work and website copywriting out of the podcast.
How did you decide to do podcasting? Did you have a background in broadcast journalism? John has always had a fascination with radio and storytelling. In the 1980s, he had a health food business. He took a class at the local community college on radio broadcasting. He wanted to work at a radio station, just to try it, but he didn't have the voice or experience. After his class, he called up the local country radio station and offered to work all day on Christmas Day in exchange for a part-time gig. John got to work 12 hours on the radio on Christmas, and then went on to have a part-time job at the radio. His retail business was all about teaching people about health and nutrition so he enjoys teaching horse people about horses.
What’s the most rewarding part of hosting your podcast? The people he gets to meet. Not just celebrities, but regular horse people sharing information.
These days, y’all are experts at podcasting. Do you still run into any challenges? What are they? Getting guests on the show, and finding new and fresh ideas to talk about.
If a listener was considering starting a podcast, what advice would you give? Plan ahead. Podcasting has more competition these days. Podcasting is about sharing your passion - if you have compelling content, people who share your passion ill come along for the ride. It's really important to have good audio because you are building relationships with listeners through their headphones.
Where do you see your podcast (and freelance career) going in the future? Any dream guests? John is fascinated by good storytelling. He wants to find more men and women who have stories to tell. He wants to see the show transition from passing along horse advice directly to passing it along through story and tradition. Guests - he has had so many great guests already. Now he wants to expand the other aspects of horsemanship.
Anything else you’d like to share with our listeners? If you have a big dream, start today. Just do something every day that moves you toward your goal. Time is the only real asset that we have, so start now!
How can our Remuda find you online?