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At left, Gary Pershad ’18 records a podcast; at right, Gary with podcast co-creator Justin Nguyen of the University of Central Florida. Photos courtesy Gary Pershad and Jason Louro.

A Podcast That Reminds Young People of Their Power


Gary Pershad '18 uses what he’s learned in Muhlenberg marketing courses to advance a message of positivity and motivation among his peers.

By: Meghan Kita   Friday, October 27, 2017 09:21 PM

Gary Pershad ’18, a business major with a marketing concentration, was studying in Spain this past spring semester, so he was out of the country for the presidential inauguration. Still, he kept in touch with friends in the States, including Justin Nguyen, a high-school classmate who attends the University of Central Florida. In the wake of an inaugural speech that referred to “American carnage,” “crime and gangs and drugs” and “rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation,” the friends decided to do something to combat this doom-and-gloom rhetoric.

“There’s so much turmoil—I’ve never been in a country more divided,” Gary says. “With all that’s going on, the appropriate response is positivity.”

The two wanted to influence and inspire other young people who may be feeling hopeless, powerless or discouraged. “We did our research and found podcasts are growing among our age-group and demographic,” Gary says. “But if you take a look at who’s creating podcasts, there aren’t too many young individuals in the market.”

They came up with a format: interviews with subjects in their late teens or early 20s who are just starting to explore career possibilities. “All the guests are in a growth stage, which makes it more relatable for our target audience,” Gary says. Then, they settled on a name: Young and D.U.M.B., which stands for Dedicated, Up-and-coming, Motivated and Bold.

Neither Gary nor Justin knew how to create a podcast, though, so they spent the next few months assembling equipment, learning editing software and exploring hosting options. They started recording in April, and the first episode went live in mid-July. Now, there’s a new episode each week, and the pair have interviewed a number of high-school and college classmates, including four current Muhlenberg students.

Meanwhile, to better promote the podcast, Gary looked to his marketing background to help create a broader brand, #GetChoGrindUp, based on a motivational saying of Justin’s that had resonated with his Snapchat followers. The brand has a website, social media accounts, merchandise and, of course, an active hashtag to better spread the word about Young and D.U.M.B. and the message behind it.

Many of the principles that have helped guide him, Gary says, he learned from business lecturer Michael Stehlin in a marketing course he took his sophomore year. “I take notice of the little things: what else the demographic is listening to, what our logo should look like, fonts, color schemes,” Gary says. These branding efforts have helped potential interview subjects find Gary and Justin (instead of the other way around), which will allow them to expand beyond their personal networks.

“Marketing is all about relationship building with a specific audience or market, which is what Gary's creation is all about,” says Gail Eisenberg, senior lecturer in business, who currently has Gary as a student in her Marketing Research class. “He is building a community of young people who are trying to make themselves and the world better. I love the re-definition of D.U.M.B. from something negative to something very positive.”

By spring, Gary and Justin hope to expand into social-media consulting, and eventually, they’d like the podcast to evolve into a vlog (that is, a “video blog,” one that relies on video instead of text, images or audio as the main source of content). “If at that point it becomes profitable, great,” Gary says, “but I’ll continue doing it as long as I’m still passionate about it.”