Ever heard a story on the radio or a podcast you can’t get out of your head? Ever wondered how it happens? West Philly’s Alex Lewis and John Myers can help.
Their full-service audio agency, Rowhome Productions launched in the fall of 2020 and has grown from a team of two to more than a dozen contractors including public radio producers, recording engineers, mixers and masters, fact-checkers, and researchers — who collaborated to work on more than 30 projects last year.
Thanks to “Serial” blowing up in the late 2010s, the podcast industry has grown immensely, with high interest and demand from creative people who want to do storytelling with sound, notes Lewis.
After running into Myers over the years at the same venues, and client projects like “Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio” (produced by Lewis and Yowei Shaw with Mighty Writers), he began thinking of how to respond to companies hungry to hire producers and solve for talented producer friends leaving Philly for bigger opportunities in other cities.
In February 2020, while both were on a work trip in New Orleans with WXPN, Lewis approached Myers with the idea of putting together a team and starting a company.
Three years in and learning on the fly, Lewis has found himself a natural at meeting with people, shaping ideas, and growing relationships, while Myers balances the backend operations side: managing the books, being super organized and responsible with money, and keeping projects running efficiently.
Work the duo has produced together includes:
- Community Legal Services of Philadelphia’s “How Is That Legal?”
- Short audio tour pieces for the Association for Public Art
- A radio program in collaboration with Asian Arts Initiative
- The podcast accompaniment for “Vinyl, Me Please” about Philadelphia International Records
- Season 2 of “Many Lumens” in partnership with BlackStar
- WHYY Digital Studio’s “The Statue”
- “Thriving” Technical.ly’s yearlong reporting series on economic opportunity
Both want to put Philly on the map through sophisticated audio storytelling and cultivating otherwise unknown homegrown talent.
“There’s no reason that Philly shouldn’t be part of the conversation,” Lewis said. Added Myers: “WRTI, WHYY, WXPN … Philly’s such a great public radio city.”
Rowhome shares the high production values of well-known companies like Gimlet, Pushkin, and Pineapple Street Studios — their projects have a journalistic take: structuring long-form narratives and collecting field tape, often creating original scores to present each story in an entertaining way. Think documentary style, deeply researched, lengthy reported narratives like Audible’s Fine Gorilla Person.
People come to Rowhome Productions with podcast ideas, too, giving folks a crash course on how to refine and better conceptualize those ideas, developing resource needs, production processes, and budgeting to make the idea happen. Their institutional knowledge can drive repeat business, as clients see how they help take a show to the next level.
So what’s next? Lewis sees closing the Philly production talent gap with more paid local freelance gigs, fellowships, internships, and Rowhome Production’s paid apprenticeship program.
“We want to pass on what we know outside of traditional learning environments and through hands-on craft,” he says. Previous apprentices walk away as experienced producers who learn how to do radio on various projects, create work samples, and ultimately become hireable candidates.
So, got a story idea? Rowhome Productions is all ears.