The Interrogation of Dan Lizette

I cornered one of the most iconic and best voices in independent podcasting to find out more about that voice behind The Podcast Digest; the man, the myth, the legend; Mr. Dan Lizette.

Agent Palmer [AP]: Let’s start with some basics. Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
Dan Lizette [DL]: Downingtown, PA for about 4 years.

[AP]: Did you choose to live there and why? Was it for a job?
[DL]: Relocated from Chesapeake, VA… Yes, due to a day job promotion.

[AP]: And in which town did you grow up, and what impact did it have on you?
[DL]: I was born in Massena, NY, a small (approx. 13,000 people) town in upstate NY. But moved from there when I was 10 to Virginia Beach. Both very different places! In terms of impact, I think it grew an appreciation I have for ‘small town life’, one thing I very much enjoy about where we live now!

[AP]: If you had to describe those towns with one word?
[DL]: Massena – Cold. Virginia Beach – Touristy.

University of Evansville

University of Evansville

[AP]: Lived anywhere else longer than two months?
[DL]: I spent one semester in school at the University of Evansville in Evansville, IN.

[AP]: Ever considered living somewhere else?
[DL]: London… if I ever win the lottery.

[AP]: So, would you consider yourself an “East Coast” guy? And what does that even mean?
[DL]: Sure, I suppose.. From the sense that I’ve pretty much always lived on the East Coast… What it means? I literally have no idea!

[AP]: Are you married or in a committed relationship? Do you have any kids (how old)?
[DL]: I am married to my wife Sheila since 11/29/08. I have 2 step kids, aged 22, 19 and 17.

[AP]: And how did you meet your wife?
[DL]: At the day job! I was a supervisor and she was an employee (not a direct report!) We kept it secret for almost a year!

[AP]: You seem to be quite the family man, but don’t really speak to much at length about it “on air.” Is that a conscious decision or just happenstance?
[DL]: Well, yes, it’s a conscience choice. Mostly because I don’t believe that’s what my show is about. I’m not a ‘personal story’ show per se. Or a comedic anecdote show. I aspire to bring people great behind the stories about the shows they love. Not necessarily to tell “my story”. I think that’s for another show, or if I were to appear as a guest in a different format. I’ve certainly shared many, many stories on shows with other, more personal, formats.

[AP]: What are the three or four best guest spots you’ve done for people to get to know you better after they’ve read this piece?
[DL]: All of them are collected on my site and in terms of those that I think might be particularly good at getting to know me: Podcast Junkies Ep. 64 and Podcasting 101 S3E1 are probably the most ‘personal’ of my guest spots.

The Podcast Digest with Dan Lizette

The Podcast Digest with Dan Lizette

[AP]: What is your current profession and do you have any side jobs or professions?
[DL]: By day, I’m the Director of Operations for an advertising research company and by nights/weekends I’m also a mobile DJ, podcaster and audiobook narrator!

[AP]: How did you become a DJ?
[DL]: Started in 1999 and was ‘recruited’ by another DJ who heard me make a microphone announcement when I worked at a bowling alley. He asked if I ever considered becoming a DJ… and the rest of was history.

[AP]: Favorite Music?
[DL]: LIVE and anything from 2000s hip hop!

[AP]: Was there ever another career option?
[DL]: Dreamed of being a sports broadcaster growing up!

[AP]: Who were your heroes or influences in broadcasting?
[DL]: Not sure I have too many. But many of the great sports broadcasters of the 80’s and 90’s were definitely in my ears all growing up!

[AP]: If you could have any other job in the world, anything, what would you do for work?
[DL]: Yep! It would be a broadcaster for the NY Yankees! Or really most any job in baseball would be awesome!

[AP]: And was that what you wanted to be when you grew up?
[DL]: Yes.

[AP]: If you got it, would you be “play by play” or “color commentator?”
[DL]: Hmmm. I would think play by play, as the color broadcaster would usually have some real life experience.

[AP]: Personal heroes?
[DL]: Agent Palmer. Kidding… sort of. Can’t really think of one!

Dan with Ginger and Paula at Podcast Movement 2016

Dan (left) with Ginger (right) and Paula (middle) at Podcast Movement 2016

[AP]: Sort of? Are you in a place where because of podcasting you have too many heroes to list? Because a lot of people in this community are doing great things worthy of looking up to or at least in to.
[DL]: Agreed! But don’t know I’d label them as ‘personal heroes’. If the question is who’s work in podcasting do I admire? Well, literally dozens and dozens of folks for tons of different reasons! That’s sort of the basis I use for pursuing guests! But in the interview realm – Marc Maron, Terry Gross, Brian Koppelman, Al Letson are some of my favs!

[AP]: Where did you go to college?
[DL]: All over – a little University of Evansville, Tidewater Community College and Virginia Wesleyan, too!

[AP]: What did you originally go for and what degree or degrees did you end up with?
[DL]: Business Administration with concentration on Management… got Associate’s, Bachelor’s still in progress!

[AP]: Obviously, you’re still working on the Bachelor’s but how important is that degree to you, and why?
[DL]: It’s often on my radar, and pretty important to me… Life, family and career have pushed that timeline off for now… but I’m sure it’ll come back around to the fore!

[AP]: Most people who make education important read. So, what are your favorite books?
[DL]: No particular titles, but I love non-fiction, especially autobiographies, etc.

[AP]: Why non-fiction?
[DL]: Big fan of learning. One of the reasons I’m a fan of podcasts… I love to learn, to round out my knowledge on a topic or find out about something completely new!

[AP]: You and I come from a very similar school in that regard. I too have been using reading to further my own education. But where we differ is in content. I make sure to try and vary it up from fiction, to non-fiction, to autobiographies. But I’d say I have my own curriculum in fantasy, historical fiction, spy fiction, science fiction, and technology. Though that doesn’t nearly encompass all of what I read, do you have a personal curriculum for picking up books?
[DL]: Well, I do read an assortment, but the focus in on Non Fiction for sure…Not particular curriculum, I watch my ‘socials’, and through many of podcasts end up with things to try… Oh that and the Kindle charts or sales! Yes, I’m all kindle, no paper.

Behind the scenes of some Podcast Digest hardware

Behind the scenes of some Podcast Digest hardware

[AP]: In the meantime, you’re a podcaster, what got you started on that?
[DL]: I started TPD in late summer 2014 because I was listening to so many great shows and really thought folks would like to get some get recommendations. With a growing medium, it’s sometimes hard to find the best stuff!

[AP]: So how do you keep finding new things to listen to? I presume it can be overwhelming in a medium that just keeps growing.
[DL]: Top charts, social media, listener submitted recommendations are all places I go when I’m looking for new things!

[AP]: What is the most productive setting for you to accomplish recording?
[DL]: One of the reasons I had the idea to start a show was when my family and I moved to PA, our new home included a great finished basement and I was able to set up a mac mini with a decent desk, mic arm, etc. The space works perfect as my ‘podcast studio.’

[AP]: Would you say you got hooked pretty fast on podcasts?
[DL]: Um… I was a single guy for a long time, and a community college student for a while too… whether around the house or walking around campus, the company was always welcome!

[AP]: How many shows do you subscribe to?
[DL]: Over 100, with a constant rotating cast!

[AP]: I’m not going to ask who your favorite podcasters or podcasts are, but what is your favorite part of the medium?
[DL]: I love talking to my guests! I’ve been very fortunate to have long form conversations with some people I’ve been a fan of for years! It’s truly an exciting feeling!

[AP]: How do you, or don’t you, manage your time/schedule?
[DL]: Almost all of my production calendar is driven by booking and availability of guests to record. Everything else builds out from there.

[AP]: Any long term goals for for your role in podcasting?
[DL]: Just continue to grow the show while exploring options for the future for me or the show!

[AP]: Favorite ways to spend your free time (or hobbies).
[DL]: I’m a mobile DJ, love listening to podcasts (obviously), a big sports fan and hassling my dogs!

[AP]: Favorite Sports / Teams?
[DL]: Yankees, NY Giants, Lakers.

Dan with Helen Zaltzman

Dan with Helen Zaltzman

[AP]: That’s three different sports! Where would you rank your love of those sports?
[DL]: Baseball is #1. Always. More than podcasts, more than almost anything, outside of family. I grew up on baseball, playing, umpiring, fantasy baseball, I’ve done it all.

[AP]: Umpiring? Anything you’d like to share from that side of the game? Truth is, I’ve been known to take it out on them from time to time…
[DL]: It’s a killer physically… will destroy your knees and back with a quickness.

[AP]: Professionally, or in your side projects, what are some of your big successes, public or behind-the-scenes?
[DL]: I have no idea! TPD has grown over the last couple years.. I’ve been proud of some of the interviews, for sure, but can’t really point to one thing in particular.

[AP]: What hasn’t been checked off your bucket list?
[DL]: Skydiving, buying my retirement home (log cabin in mountains with great wifi!)

[AP]: Would this mean that The Podcast Digest would continue from your log cabin? Will you be doing it for as long as you are able?
[DL]: Hopefully! Who knows how long the TPD will run! I’m loving doing it and proud of the run to date! As long as my schedule allows it, and my interest in the stories behind the shows continue, I’ll keep putting it out there!

[AP]: What can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
[DL]: Nothing. There are none actively being planned!

[AP]: Ok, so there are no active upcoming projects, but I’m sure you’ve thought about doing other podcasts. If I could put you on the spot, what would your next podcast be?
[DL]: I’d love to do a sports or tech podcast with a cohost … that wouldn’t mind doing all the work… something I could just relax and talk about the stuff I love. TPD is work! Booking, scheduling, research, etc.. but something I could just be a co-host and not carry the full burden, that would be great! Of course, I just need to get like 30 hours in a day and I’ll make it happen!

[AP]: I know you can do voice, but are you a writer, artist? What other creative mediums do you partake in?
[DL]: I’m a mobile DJ, but other than that, nope! I, personally, don’t label myself as much of a creative, really…

More from The Podcast Digest studio

More from The Podcast Digest studio

[AP]: You don’t label yourself a creative, but would you agree that you have talent? You can interview better than most.
[DL]: I like to think I can do this “thing” pretty ok. One might call that talent, but I don’t know I’d call that ‘creative’. I can see where one might label it as such, just not sure I would. I don’t write, draw, produce content (like a movie or youtube or audio story), I just talk to people. And that, talking to people, yes, I think I do that well.

[AP]: But you are aware that not everyone is comfortable talking to people. That does elevate you as someone who is willing to go out and talk to people who you don’t know.
[DL]: Sure.

[AP]: Let’s switch it up… Please finish the following, “People might be surprised to know I…”
[DL]: own 4 dogs.. My wife and I have become the “crazy dog people” in the neighborhood.

[AP]: People probably need more _____ in their lives.
[DL]: Whiskey.

[AP]: Should anyone be interested in what you are drinking, and I’m sure they are, what kind of whiskey would you suggest?
[DL]: Wish I had some super cool recommendation… but Jim Beam is my normal weapon of choice, but I’ve gone up market a time or two, as well!

[AP]: Last fill-in. “People who don’t really know me too well all seem to think I’m…”
[DL]: boring, and they’d be pretty close to right.

[AP]: I don’t think you’re boring… Or is that because I don’t know you well enough?
[DL]: Nah. I’m boring, Palmer.

[AP]: I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. So, moving on… Favorite movies?
[DL]: Pulp Fiction, Usual Suspects, etc.

[AP]: Television shows?
[DL]: 24, Everybody Loves Raymond, The Office, Bloodline…

The Podcast Digest with Dan Lizette Logo

The Podcast Digest with Dan Lizette

[AP]: Just like the sheer volume of podcasts can be overwhelming, do you find that there’s too much good television, between the networks and Amazon, Netflix and Hulu originals? And how do you clear through it all to find what you want to watch?
[DL]: Oh yeah! We may be in another golden age of entertainment really… so many options! As far as discovery, if there’s lots of folks talking about it, and the basic premise of a show or movie appeals to me, I’ll probably check it out.

[AP]: Do you think your life will be vastly different in 5 years?
[DL]: Hopefully! (Kids will be moved out by then!)

[AP]: Do you WANT your life to be vastly different in 5 years?
[DL]: Sure! (Kids will be moved out by then!)

[AP]: Best piece of advice you’ve ever been given.
[DL]: Nothing’s easy, it all requires hard work.

[AP]: And the best advice you could give to someone…
[DL]: Repeat above.

[AP]: And with that, I think it is time to close the dossier, for now. Is there anything else you would like to add, or do you just want the bright light turned off?
[DL]: Q

In full disclosure, I have had the privilege to not only podcast with Dan (Episode 94), but just talk to him from time to time. And to reiterate my point from earlier, Dan is far from boring. He is one of the most humble and generous people I have ever met, not just in podcasting, but in life. It is a pleasure to call him a friend, and even more fun to call him from time to time on the phone, because some people still do that!

I suggest you listen to The Podcast Digest and follow Dan on Twitter @poddigest, because he’s knowledgeable, willing to share his insight and fun to interact with.