The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the live entertainment industry and been particularly tough on those charged with marketing and promoting the world’s biggest touring shows. With many of their members facing furloughs or job loss and their annual event indefinitely on hiatus, the Event and Arena Marketing Conference had to get creative to keep their members engaged and connected to the colleagues they can’t see in person.
Enter the “Adventures in Venueland” podcast, an interview-style bi-monthly show hosted by longtime members Dave Redelberger, EAMC president with Nationwide Arena and Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio and Paul Hooper, EAMC vp of marketing and communications who served as marketing and promotions manager at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky. and was recently included in a company-wide layoff due to pandemic.
“Adventures in Venueland” is a behind the scenes tour of the lives of people who work tirelessly to plan, promote and pull off the world’s largest events. The podcast can be found on most major podcast players and has featured guests like Rosie Selle from Seattle’s soon-to-open Climate Pledge Arena, Adam Armit from Maples Leafs Sports and Entertainment, Nina Jackson with NRG Park in Houston and Vanessa Kromer with Nederlander Concerts in Los Angeles.
“The goal is to get beyond what you would hear on a panel and focus on people’s journeys and how they got to where they are today,” says Redelberger. “We want to go down that path and hear about some of their struggles and victories. I have known some of the guests for a decade plus and I am completely blown away by their history and facets of their story that are new to me. The show feels like a backstage pass to somebody’s personal life story.”
The idea for a podcast has been percolating between the hosts for nearly two years. Redelberger worked on air in radio broadcasting for two decades, while Hooper’s longtime experience in graphic design and photography was key to developing the show’s signature aesthetic, including its throwback 80s logo and accompanying visuals . Besides providing year round content for members of EAMC, Hooper said expand EAMC’s audience into all facets of live entertainment and bring in general managers, agents and other facets of the live entertainment business.
The podcast is also an important outlet for the 100,000 people who have either lost their jobs or been furloughed because of the pandemic, Hooper says. “It’s sad because as you’re losing your job, you are seeing all your friends getting laid off too. We want to help people process those feelings and bond and connect over this shared struggle.”
Nearly every city in the U.S. has a concert venue or live performance space, and losing one’s job can feel isolating and painful, Hooper added.
“We’re oping to be really honest with these stories and talk about the struggles that I’ve gone through or that Dave’s gone through,” Hooper says. “I think people will be able to relate to that because they might not have that person to talk to, and this is our chance to talk to that person — even though they’re listening to a podcast, it’s almost like inviting them in on that conversation and sharing that experience with us as we all heal and get through it together.”
Redelberger says one of the challenges many face during the pandemic is that “so much of our identity becomes wrapped up in our careers. We are proud to tell our friends and family what we do and we wear it like a badge of honor.”
Losing a job one loves is like “losing your favorite blanket, and now you’re out there a bit cold. We want people to know that you’re not alone. So many of us have an undying love of the live event industry and that is the connective theme for the podcast — we’re here because we have an internal passion and that is something that we carry with us every day in every facet of our life,” Redelberger added. “There are so many people that are eager to go back to working nights and weekends. We’ve had a lot of time off and now we can’t wait for the crazy days and long hours to return.”
Hooper adds, “I think so many of us are addicted to the adrenaline that comes with working in the live entertainment industry, and then when you stick us inside our homes for ten months with nothing to do, it’s maddening. Maybe that means we all have the same passion or maybe we all just have the same screw loose, but either way, it’s something that so many people across this country share and we hope ‘Adventures in Venueland’ captures that feeling and celebrates the great people who are ready ti to return to work.”