Mic'd Up & Making it Happen: An Interview with Donny Hadfield-Smith
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
If you are in need of a little creative inspiration as we close out the year and springboard into hopefully a better one, look no further. Donny has been a friend of Viridian since the beginning and just this year launched a hilarious weekly podcast centered around Bravo's "Real Housewives" alongside co-hosts Quinten Lamar & Anthony Casella. Here, we chat all things "Know That" and how sometimes you just need to go for it.
How did Know That: A Real Housewives Podcast come to be?
I’ve always been a creative person with so many ideas, but a lot of the time, the ideas get bigger than I am and I leave them on the drawing board, so to speak, because I get overwhelmed. However, with the pandemic, I’ve been unemployed since March, so I found myself with a lot of free time and also a lot of energy that I needed to channel into creating something before I lost my mind. I ran a few ideas by my husband Quin on creative endeavors we could collaborate on, but he wasn’t sold on any of them. I just needed to work on something, and I preferred if he was involved with me. Cut to my friend Anthony - he has wanted to start a podcast for some time, but couldn’t settle on an idea. The three of us are huge Housewives fans, and when we’re together, the conversation usually turns into a discussion on these women and these cities. With the three of us knowing we wanted to work on something creatively but being unsure about what, the topic and the collaboration kind of just fell into place.
How do you prepare for the podcast week to week? What kind of planning goes into it? The three of us share a Google Doc that is truly our Bible: potential guests we’d like on the show and their contact information, a schedule of what guests are joining us and when, and a detailed outline for each episode we record. We have a moderator each week who works on the outline ahead of time and guides the discussion from topic to topic as we’re recording, and we take turns stepping into this moderator role.
What is your favorite part about doing the podcast? As much as I love our recording sessions, it’s the social media aspect that I enjoy most. I’m in charge of our instagram, and I have so much fun on the account that sometimes I realize I’ve lost a better part of a day just having fun on there - joking around and getting to know the stars of these shows, creating memes, interacting with our listeners and the rest of the Bravo community. The Bravo fan community is so welcoming; I’ve met some people through this account that I truly consider friends. As far as the podcast itself, my favorite part is still the socialness of it - each week, we have a guest come on and discuss the week’s most recent episodes. Sometimes the guest is a personal friend, sometimes they are another podcaster; other times we happen to get a “big name” in the pop culture world. It’s thrilling to get to know our guest for an hour and talk to them about shows we love, even though our opinions can wildly differ.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own podcast?
Just do it! There’s always going to be something that can hold you back. Ignore it. This podcast began while I was unemployed and in the midst of a pandemic. Record over Zoom. Use your phone mic if you don’t currently have funds to purchase a fancy one. Don’t hold yourself back.
Aside from the incredible audio content you and your co-hosts produce every week, you have also seen tremendous growth on social media. Tell us about that and how much work goes into it.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s so important and I have fun doing it, so I don’t mind it. Before our podcast even launched, I wanted to make sure we had a social media following so that we weren’t just plopping an episode into the abyss with no one around to hear it. I began the instagram account and my goal was 100 followers before we launched. I created some Housewives memes, followed and interacted with other Bravo accounts, and made sure we were a presence on social media. You always want to remember to be an account that YOU’D want to follow. We hit our goal of 100 followers within TWENTY FOUR HOURS and still had a week until our launch, so I just gave myself a slightly higher goal… and then we’d hit it. This happened again and again until we had 300 followers before we even had an episode to show for it! When we hit a little plateau, I decided to take the next step and message big Bravo fan accounts and just asked if we could do a follow for follow. Some of them ignored me, which is fine - the worst thing someone can say is no, so why not put yourself out there? A lot of them, though, added me immediately and began sharing my memes, suggesting their followers follow me; they were very welcoming and supportive.
In terms of content, though, I make sure I post at least one thing a day and try to do some kind of poll once a week. It’s a lot of work, but like I said, it’s a very important aspect of finding a base and keeping momentum going.
Social Media is a beast of its own that a lot of content creators really struggle to master. What advice would you give creators looking to increase their presence and gain more traction?
Everyone you ask this question to will tell you the same thing: consistency. That is very true, and it’s a key ingredient to gaining a social media presence. A daily meme, reposts, frequent interaction with your favorite accounts; these are all important factors in gaining a following. However, and I don’t know if this is advice every social media expert would tell you, but I’m telling you - I also think actively finding an audience is important. Consistency will help you get noticed and makes sure the followers you already have are enjoying their time on your page, but actively searching for an audience ensures that those you want to see your page are seeing it. What do I mean by that and how can you do it? It’s simple. Every day, I go on at least one page with a large following that has similar content to what I’m creating. I go to their “Follower” page and visit some of their follower’s pages; not anyone specific, just random followers from across the world. It’s here that I do a mini “like” binge on these followers’ pages: likes, comments, interactions. It may seem crazy, and it definitely takes time, but it works, and most importantly - you know these followers enjoy the type of content you’re putting out because they’re already following an account similar to yours.
What’s next for Know That? Any spin-offs? Bonus content?!
We actually have a bonus episode coming out very soon as like a year in review. Keep an eye out for that!
You have gotten some pretty high profile guests to come on the show, particularly in the Bravo community. How did you do that? What was it like reaching out to them?
Honestly, I just ask. There are different avenues to take with different people, but they’ll let you know if you’re approaching them incorrectly. For the Bravo stars and podcasters, I just messaged them directly on social media. So far (knock on wood), every potential guest I’ve reached out to has said yes. I’ve been very lucky, and I’m very grateful. We have a guest that I’m very excited about coming on the show on January 13. For her, I reached out through social media, and she informed me that all booking is done through her publicist. She gave me her contact information, and I wasted no time sending my pitch to the publicist. We discussed details, and then the guest spot was booked! I’m learning that so much of this process (starting a podcast, finding a social media following, booking guests) is just making sure you’re not standing in your own way. You have the talent. You are the brand. Don’t let you be what gets in your way.
Talk to me about your co-hosts!
Anthony is our “Bravo historian.” He’s seen every episode of every city and can tell what makes these women tick. Quin and I tend to watch the shows at face value, making cracks at the fashion and living for the snarky quips these women shoot back and forth at each other. Anthony really dissects the show and almost watches it as if it were homework for a psychology or film class, and this makes our podcast so much richer.
Quinten Lamar is a stand-up comedian and improv performer, and he brings his skills and talents to our podcast effortlessly. He’s always making our guests laugh, and his brand of dry humor is widely embraced by our listeners. Quin also has insights on many of the topics that come up on the show that I wouldn’t have even thought to think about, so bringing these issues and views to light is really something that helps our podcast stand out.
Overall, I think the three of us record very well together, and it truly shows in the final product. Each of us brings something very different, yet necessary, to the show. Anthony’s expertise, Quin’s deadpan humor and hot takes, and my chaotic energy all combine wonderfully to create a one of a kind experience. We like to think of our show as being like “The View,” except being about nothing of any kind of importance.
You can catch new episodes of "Know That: A Real Housewives Podcast" every Wednesday! Follow them on Instagram & Twitter @knowthatpod, you will NOT be disappointed!