Two sisters turn sibling banter into award-winning podcast with Sis & Tell
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Decatur, GA – For sisters Amanda Goldstein Marks and Alison Goldstein Lebovitz, weekly phone conversations have turned from mere chit-chat into an acclaimed podcast called “Sis & Tell.”
The duo began their podcast nearly three years ago in May 2017. Amanda, a Decatur resident and comedian, and Alison, a national speaker and television host who lives in Chattanooga, decided to begin the podcast during a funny phone call between them.
“Amanda and I were having one of our daily or weekly conversations, and I said ‘wow, this conversation is so funny that we could make it a podcast,” Alison said. “I think literally three to four days later, we actually made it into a podcast.”
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Right away, the sisters decided on a name, secured a web domain, bought $30 pairs of headsets – from which they say they’ve since upgraded – and downloaded a program to record their calls. From there, they were “up and running,” Alison said.
According to Amanda, the sisters never formally assigned roles to each other. Instead, they just figured out what tasks needed to be completed and fell into roles naturally. Alison records and edits the show, and Amanda does the “back-end” work, along with marketing and promotion.
“[Alison] kind of went to the left, I kind of went to the right, and we came back and had done things that we both needed to do,” Amanda said.
“And literally every week, [Amanda sends] me the suggested title, and every week I re-write it,” Alison said.
“The rule of thumb is put in as much alliteration as possible, and then it’ll be approved on the first try,” Amanda said. “Alison loves alliteration.”
As the sisters began their podcast, they had to face inevitable challenges, they said. Most of the challenges were technical: they began by using the platform Squarespace, but it didn’t have the right capacity, so they switched to a different podcast hosting website. Recording can occasionally be tricky, since the sisters live in different cities, and issues can pop up with their WiFi or headsets.
Another challenge, although more forgiving, is Amanda’s dogs, who bark so much that Alison says she “could make an entire blooper reel of it.”
“Alison and I are very positive people, maybe always wearing rose-colored glasses, so to speak, so I don’t see it as challenges but little hiccups along the way that we always fix,” Amanda said.
The sisters have been able to avoid many challenges because of their simple approach to podcasting.
“Most challenges, if you look at the podcasting world, are about who’s going to listen to this, who are we going to appeal to, who’s our target audience, and what are we going talk about, which wasn’t really a challenge for us because our mantra is true: ‘a whole lotta talk about a whole lotta nothing,’” Alison said. “We never pre-plan our conversations. Anytime we didn’t get as many downloads or got anecdotal feedback that it didn’t work, we just pivoted and we did something different.”
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This simple approach, and the ability to keep conversations authentic, is what sets their podcast apart. Alison sums up their podcast in two words: light and legit. By being genuine, the sisters can make listeners feel more connected to the conversations.
“We really want people to feel like they’re listening in on a conversation we’re having,” Amanda said. “We don’t think about it as, ‘oh, is this podcast-quality conversation?’ We’re really just chit-chatting. My favorite comment that we get from our listeners is that they feel like they’re really a part of our family, and they feel like they’re a sister, and we love that.”
Another rewarding part of podcasting – aside from “the fame, the fortune, the awards,” as Alison joked – is that the sisters get to set aside time to talk to one another.
“This sounds so cheesy, but I love that there’s a guaranteed time that I get to hop on the phone every week and I’m getting this full attention from my big sister,” Amanda said.
“And I love that in just 30 minutes I can appease my baby sister by giving her my dedicated attention,” Alison said.
As a comedian, Amanda said that seeing the amount of people who download the podcast and the amount of social interaction that comes with podcasting has been rewarding, especially when listeners reach out to say a specific story resonated with them. Alison agrees and has found that their podcast has a far broader reach than they expected.
“People recognize us and say, ‘oh my gosh, I listen to your podcast,’ and we don’t know those people,” she said. “It’s cool because when we look at our stats and our demographics, people in Washington State or New Jersey are listening. It’s pretty exciting to know that whatever we’re talking about has relevance to people beyond our immediate scope.”
The sisters release half-hour episodes every Friday on most platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Spotify. Decatur FM also rebroadcasts Sis & Tell every day at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., the sisters said. Sis & Tell has been featured in Forbes online, was voted “Best Podcast” finalist for Creative Loafing’s Best of Atlanta 2018 and won Reader’s Choice for “Best Podcast” for Creative Loafing’s Best of Atlanta 2017.
Additionally, in celebration of their third podcasting anniversary, the sisters plan to have a tentative in-person party for fans on Thursday, June 25th at Highland Inn & Ballroom Lounge. More information will be released as the coronavirus pandemic plays out, the sisters said.
Go here to listen to their podcast and find more information.
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