Conservation and Knowing Where We Came from in Order to Look Forward With Mardi Dickinson

by Darrell Darnell | Pro Podcaster Stories

“I want to be able to leave this Earth knowing that there's a place where people can go to find out information about wild birds and conservation.” -Mardi Dickinson Click To Tweet

Today’s Episode:

Mardi Dickinson is the founder and CEO of KymryGroup a digital media company that focuses on social marketing and photography. Mardi has decades of experience in the advertising, photography and publishing industries. She is also the owner, host and producer of BirdCallsRadio and the BirdCallsRadio podcast. This is a journalistic platform with guests that talk about wild birds and conservation. 

Her practical knowledge of digital systems and culture enabled her to blend smart content creation with a promotional scheme critical to her current success. She is also a prolific and widely published photographer who has worked on the inside of the photography and publishing business. She has two master’s degrees one in photography and one in marketing. 

We talk about how Mardi got involved in bird watching and how podcasting was a natural transformation for her. In spite of this, she still faced challenges. She shares these challenges along with great advice for new podcasters. She also shares her world class equipment list and setup. We also get to learn about migratory birds and songbirds. Mardi shares some of her favorite birds to spot and one she is yet to find. She also shares her favorite places for bird watching. We talk about the challenges of tackling a small niche, and Mardi’s vision of overcoming that. 

We also talk about photography and our nostalgia for old school film developing. Darkrooms and all. Mardi shares how she is a conservationist and historian. She uses her work to share the history of conservation with future generations. She even has a legacy podcast series of important conservationists that have passed on. All of Mardi’s guests are her favorites, but she shares a little about a couple of special guests. Mardi is doing important work that will benefit future generations. 

“Being a photographer and being in the marketing world and dabbling in video, podcasting wasn't such a far field.” -Mardi Dickinson Click To Tweet

Show Notes:

  • [03:48] Mardi’s mom was an author of children’s books and a professional photographer. They lived in the country, and Mardi loved being outdoors.
  • [04:51] Her family also went on outdoor adventures on weekends. 
  • [05:57] She was in front of the camera a lot but preferred being behind the camera. Her first picture was published in a local paper when she was 15.
  • [06:54] In high school, she was the editor of the yearbook and paper. She also did side projects. 
  • [07:06] She has two master’s degrees one in photography and one in marketing. She also mentored with several well known artists. 
  • [08:21] Darrell and Mardi both miss the old days of darkrooms. 
  • [10:04] Mardi’s husband is also a photographer. On dates, they would go bird watching. 
  • [11:39] She became fascinated at the behavior of birds. It became an obsession. 
  • [12:28] BirdCallsRadio started in 2011. Mardi took the show over from a partner. She changed the focus and made it interview based. 
  • [14:06] There aren’t very many podcasts about wild birds and conservation. She knew that if she positioned it correctly and was patient, the podcast would get the attention it should. 
  • [15:04] Mardi is a historian and has several very important archived calls. She wants to share the stories of those who have lived lives that we haven’t known. She wants to leave information about conservation for generations. 
  • [16:50] The podcast is about more than wild birds. It’s about conservation as a whole. The purpose is to show us where we came from in order to know where to go.
  • [18:44] One of Mardi’s first legacy podcast was with Chandler Robbins. The work he did with migratory songbirds and the effect of DDT changed history. He passed away in 2016.
  • [19:43] Jim Fowler of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom was also one of her interviews. 
  • [22:00] Mardi interviews in person and knows a lot about gear. 
  • [22:22] She has a studio at her office with a Soundcraft mixer. She has monitor speakers. She has a JK audio phone connector. She has been using Skype, but is changing soon. Probably to SquadCast. 
  • [23:18] On location, she uses a Sound Devices audio recorder. She wants to have the best content that she can have with very good audio quality. She can also use Skype and her iPhone. She also uses a Roland R-05 handheld recorder with a dynamic mic. 
  • [24:55] She uses condenser mics in her studio. 
  • [27:44] She wanted great sound and bought great equipment. 
  • [29:13] A challenged Mardi faced was understanding there is a learning curve you just have to go through. She had to find her rhythm. 
  • [30:25] It’s helpful to line up 10 shows ready to go, because there is so much to do. Having an editing team like PPS saves time and money.
  • [32:44] She is planning on adding a guest scheduler. She does like to send personalized emails. Finding guests is the most time consuming. 
  • [35:34] In the spring, she loves to bird in Northwest Ohio. There’s a migratory track there. It’s on the edge of Lake Erie. She also loves Cape May, New Jersey. 
  • [37:56] She would like to go back to Africa, Alaska, the Galapagos, and the Pantanal in Brazil. 
  • [38:47] Atlantic Puffins are really cute. She hopes to one day see a Laysan Albatross. There are thousands in Midway Atoll. 
  • [41:16] Mardi defines success as doing the work. Audience interaction and comments are also success. 
  • [42:08] She’s working on doing speaking engagements and covering events. She also has Sunday School bird watching for kids in the spring and the fall. 
  • [43:18] She might be developing another podcast for her other business. 
  • [45:24] Darrell’s Takeaways: Mardi uses BirdCallsRadio to leave a historical record of those working in conservation for future generations. She uses world class gear. Mardi recommends doing test interviews before the regular production. Start with a buffer of at least five episodes. 

“As a business woman and marketing person, I knew that a small niche like wild birds and conservation would be a steep hill to climb.” -Mardi Dickinson Click To Tweet

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