Kevin Chemidlin wanted to listen to a podcast highlighting the journeys of innovative people in Philadelphia, but he couldn’t find any.
So, he created one.
In April, the 2014 computer science alumnus introduced “Philly Who?” a weekly podcast featuring conversations with some of the city’s artists and entrepreneurs. The podcast is typically 40 minutes to an hour and garners about 500 downloads per episode, Chemidlin said.
“I wanted to hear the stories of Philadelphian doers, thinkers, leaders and performers,” he added.
Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Chemidlin came to Temple University with little knowledge of podcasting. His only experience with audio engineering came from working on albums for the on-campus a cappella group OwlCappella, which he co-founded, during his last two years of college.
In 2013, Chemidlin interned for Alfred Goodrich, a producer and audio engineer at Silvertone Studios in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, and quickly learned how to work with sound.
“Audio engineering is any kind of situation where you are trying to make things sound good,” Goodrich said. “It involves everything from recording, mixing, acoustics or editing and [Chemidlin] has taken that straight to his podcast.”
During the two years Chemidlin interned for Goodrich, he said he became very familiar with editing the human voice.
“I still think there is a lot of value in actually editing, honing the message and adding touches like music and voice-overs,” Chemidlin added.
Before starting “Philly Who?” Chemidlin worked a full-time job in software development.
To jumpstart the process of getting into the podcasting world, Chemidlin traveled to Austin, Texas, in Spring 2018 to attend a conference at SXSW, a series of festivals and conferences related to film, music and professional development.
The two-day Amplify Philly conference at SXSW was organized by 2013 advertising and marketing alumnus David Silver and featured panels with Philadelphia powerhouses like La Colombe Coffee Roasters co-founder Todd Carmichael, who Chemidlin later interviewed on his podcast.
Chemidlin met many people he would go on to interview at Amplify Philly, like West Philadelphia hip-hop artist Chill Moody and 2011 public relations alumnus Brendan Lowry, who started the Instagram account Peopledelphia that features photos of the daily lives of Philadelphians. Chemidlin said meeting people in person made it easier to book guests on “Philly Who?”
“If you’re just tweeting at people, they just see you as a username or a subject line or another item on their to-do list,” Chemidlin said. “By actually talking to the person and explaining what your passions are, then they may become passionate in it too.”
Every “Philly Who?” episode is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, but Chemidlin wants to reach even wider audiences. He said he hopes to take the show to YouTube or livestream from the podcast’s Instagram.
“I can see this as something huge,” Chemidlin said.
Starting the project wasn’t always easy. At one point, Chemidlin even thought about quitting.
Between the time spent interviewing and the hours of editing, he thought it was almost too much. But with encouragement from family, friends and podcast listeners, Chemidlin decided to keep going.
“The validation that there are other people out there that want to hear these stories as much as I do is what made me want to keep this thing alive,” he said. “I was so pumped and passionate about it that it was easy to spend all my remaining nights and weekends on it.”
For each guest on the podcast, Chemidlin highlights two parts of their story: how they got to where they are now and how Philadelphia was involved in their growth.
“Philadelphia is producing these folks that are impacting the world and a lot of people … don’t realize that,” Chemidlin said.
He said he hopes “Philly Who?” will make Philadelphians believe they can make their dreams a reality.
Since starting the podcast, Chemidlin said he has learned to be a better listener, ask better questions and become more engaged with the people in his personal life. For him, the connections he makes with his guests are the most rewarding part of the process.
“There’s no better connection than hearing the [guest] tell their story face-to-face and hearing the good, the bad and the ugly,” Chemidlin said.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Chemidlin and Goodrich interned together. Chemidlin interned for Goodrich.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Chemidlin met Temple men’s basketball coach Fran Dunphy and 2006 entrepreneurship alumna Yasmine Mustafa at SXSW. He did not meet them there.