Passion for Podcasts
Local Host and Producer Helps Others Engage the Community
By Daniel Barnes
Prolific host and producer Johnny Flores had already started and ended one podcast by the time he took an Improv 101 class at the Sacramento Comedy Spot.
Flores had been an ardent fan of improv comedy since he was a child, but his broadcasting skills at the time were unpolished, and he found that he tended to wait for his turn to speak in lieu of listening.
“I had an inkling of what I wanted to do, but that helped me with developing listening skills that I did not have,” Flores says of the comedy class.
Armed with these newfound skills, Flores launched the podcast “Serious Talk. Seriously.” in 2014, focusing on people who are “contributing to Sacramento to make it different.”
The show instantly connected with the community, especially with a guest list that included artist Maren Conrad, musician Autumn Sky Hall and Mayor Darrell Steinberg.
Flores never returned to the Comedy Spot for follow-up classes, but his entire podcasting career has been an extended act of improvisation, a trial-and-error process driven by a passion for this “freeform artform.” Ultimately, though, Flores wants to help the next generation of podcasters avoid his mistakes.
“A lot of people are interested in doing this, but they don’t know how,” he says. “I built up all this knowledge. I learned the hard way. So I want to share with you how to do it the easy way.”
Born in Southern California, Flores attended Del Campo High in Fair Oaks before joining the Navy in 1994, serving for four years, mostly in the San Diego area. Flores bounced around some more after getting out of the military, briefly living in Spokane and Portland before returning to Sacramento about 10 years ago.
In late 2011, Flores’ Tahoe Park neighbor brought up the idea of podcasting. “He had purchased some recording equipment, and he asked if I thought about doing a podcast,” Flores says. “I was vaguely aware of podcasts, but I hadn’t checked any of them out.”
Research led Flores to popular podcasts like “WTF with Marc Maron” and “How Did This Get Made?” and resurrected a long-burning desire to host a radio show.
After spending a few months brainstorming ideas, a friend suggested that Flores parlay his affinity for nerd culture into a podcast. In 2012, Flores launched “No Nipples on the Suit,” the title a reference to the Joel Schumacher “Batman” films, which Flores calls “the two low points in nerd cinema.” Without any training, Flores stumbled through a season of episodes before pulling the plug on the show in mid-2013.
“‘No Nipples on the Suit’ taught me about being consistent, communicating with your audience on a regular basis,” he says. “It was my trial by fire.”
While waiting on his next podcast idea, Flores did some freelance illustrating around town, working on posters for art shows and concerts. “The people of Sacramento, for a long time, had a lot of self-hatred,” he says. “I had just met all these really cool, interesting people that were proud of Sacramento and what was going on here, and I thought it was a shame more people don’t know about them.”
That desire to celebrate the people who were making Sacramento special inspired Flores to launch “Serious Talk. Seriously.” Sourcing guests for the show proved easier than expected. “I built some equity with people in town who at the time were scrambling to make a name for themselves,” he says. Once he had established a roster of reputable interviewees, their name value made it simple to sell the show to potential guests.
Flores has released more than 150 episodes of the show in the last four-plus years, many of them recorded in the garage of his home in Colonial Heights. Some of his favorite guests include Canon East Sacramento owner Clay Nutting, city Councilmember Angelique Ashby and any of the many comedians he has interviewed.
“Comedians are super easy to talk to, because engaging and storytelling are their bread and butter,” he says.
In the last year, Flores has expanded his podcasting empire by producing other people’s shows, including the Comstock’s podcast “Action Items.” Flores also co-hosts “Graphic Novel Explorers Club,” which is “an audio book club for graphic novel readers,” and produces “Dare Daniel,” which is “a film review podcast with an absurdist sense of humor.”
After informally assisting people with their podcasts for several years, Flores went professional last August, realizing one of his long-term goals by launching Flores Podcast Consulting. The business offers recording and editing services, as well as advice about starting and growing a podcast.
“Podcasting is a great way to connect with an audience or engage with a customer base,” Flores says. “Helping others to build appealing and entertaining podcasts is a passion of mine that I love to share with my clients.”
Daniel Barnes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.