PERRYSBURG — With some pandemic time on his hands, Perrysburg High School freshman Jack Bowe created his own podcast as an outlet for his love of politics.
Bowe calls himself “an outspoken political commentator who loves to make his voice heard.” “Inside the 435” can be found on Spotify and many other digital sources of podcasts. He reports on both political and business news.
“Politics will never go away and high school students have different viewpoints and different perspectives than adults. People at my school also appreciated the chance to talk on the show and get their message out there. Everyone’s passionate about something and I’ve definitely got a lot of friends interested in it,” Bowe said. “I started it on Nov. 10, right after the election. I did a couple of livestreams on Instagram, and people liked it, so I started the podcast.”
It was all election coverage, interviewing soccer friends from other schools and friends from PHS.
“A couple of episodes I also covered the stock market, during the GameStop fiasco. I covered that, because it was a pretty confusing situation. I did research on that.”
The show name comes from the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The show’s a mix of news reporting and commentary on the headlines of the day, as well as a variety of interview formats.
Bowe has uploaded 32 episodes since November. He generally has an audience of about 40, and hit 4,000 total downloads at the end of March. While 50% of his audience is based in Ohio, he also has regular fans in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania. The audience is primarily from the U.S. with about 95%, with 5% of the downloads are happening in Canada.
“It’s a lot of work. I definitely dedicate a lot of time to it.”
His first foray into podcasting was with his cousin, Jake. They did two episodes of a sports podcast, where they talked about the Pittsburgh Steelers. While he enjoyed the format, and he plays soccer and tennis for PHS, talking about sports was not for him.
“I couldn’t talk about sports that much, but something I talk about a lot with friends and family is politics. Politics is my sport, and I knew I could talk about that for a long time.”
Bowe listens to a lot of internet radio broadcast shows. He’s a fan of Dave Ramsey and Ben Shapiro.
“I don’t necessarily agree with him, but I enjoyed how it was done. I like the audio format a lot,” he said. “I enjoy the radio broadcast feel, the aesthetics of hearing people’s voices. It might seem like listening to people talk is boring, but I find it really interesting.”
His other inspiration is former soccer coach Nick Seuberling, the producer and host of the Cincinnati Soccer Talk podcast.
“He has helped me tremendously. I’d say he was my biggest inspiration,” Jack said. “I’ve messaged him for microphone advice, advertising.”
Bowe’s two favorite episodes have been his interviews of Perrysburg School Superintendent Tom Hosler and Board of Education President Ray Pohlman.
He also has lively debates and listener call-ins.
Being too young to drive has not been a stumbling block. He does his interviews virtually, for both audio and video.
“The format is just me. I sit in my room and record the news and commentary on three topics.”
Last week was his first four-day week, face-to-face class schedule for this year. He doesn’t think full weeks in school will impact the production, because he can record, and later upload after editing, at his convenience. He goes to five days a week on April 26.
Bowe will record interviews from virtual sources, not unlike a zoom call. All his tools are set up in the bedroom at his desk. Everything from his computer to his microphone he purchased with his own money.
Most episodes are about 20 minutes and he finds most of his topic in the national news headlines. Interview episodes can be over an hour.
“The biggest one is COVID. It’s changing every day. There’s definitely a partisan split, and definitely a political issue, even though they probably shouldn’t have made it one, but the election was a big one too. In an election year everything changes,” Jack said.
For research, he’s not a fan of televised news.
“I find that written news on the internet is much better, more reliable. You can find what you want and don’t have to rely on what they want to talk about. I usually go to multiple sources. I prefer sources that are unbiased, so I can make my own judgments, like AP and NPR, but I also go to daily news podcasts,” Jack said.
Parents Rod and Laura Bowe are proud of their son. Early on they made sure that if Jack was going to do this it would be all his project.
Jack’s siblings are also supportive.
Younger brother Alex, 13, takes care of the dog while Jack is recording, so the house can be quiet. Sister Leah, 11, watches the show regularly. She turns it on while doing her homework, so Jack can get paid.
Bowe has done some merchandising for the show, selling some stickers, shirts, hats, mugs and other small promotional items.
He estimates that he earns a little over $6 in direct podcast revenue.
At 15-years-old he knows he’s already had a lasting impact. He proudly points out that the average podcast lasts seven episodes, while he has uploaded 32 and has three more in the can.
He will be putting “Inside the 435” on college applications and considers having a political talk show, after becoming a lawyer. Law school is his real goal.
Bowe’s next show is tonight at 6. He’s interviewing new high principal Aaron Cookson, who starts this summer.