Shaun Hall Of Veterans Breakfast Club: “Breathe & Relax ”

Breathe & Relax — It will not be perfect. Nor does it have to be. Be yourself and allow your passion for the subject matter to shine through. The audience will want to take the ride with you because of that excitement. Shaun is the Director of Programming at Veterans Breakfast Club, as well as the host […]

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Breathe & Relax — It will not be perfect. Nor does it have to be. Be yourself and allow your passion for the subject matter to shine through. The audience will want to take the ride with you because of that excitement.

Shaun is the Director of Programming at Veterans Breakfast Club, as well as the host and producer of the VBC’s Scuttlebutt. In every episode, Shaun brings non-veterans’ perspectives and questions to the conversation. His passion for veteran stories is what made him return to VBC again and again.

Can you tell us a bit of your “personal backstory? What is your background and what eventually brought you to this particular career path?

In 2004, I received my degree in acting from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. Over the last decade, alongside my acting career, I started working with nonprofits whose missions I really believed in, which is how I came across The Veterans Breakfast Club. Our mission is to create communities of listening around veterans and their stories to connect, educate, heal, and inspire. I’ve always been intrigued by war stories, so VBC was a natural fit as it paired that interest with my passion for storytelling.

Can you share a story about the most interesting thing that has happened to you since you started podcasting?

Going viral on TikTok was exciting, but honestly, something interesting happens every episode. The veterans and professionals that have been guests on The Scuttlebutt have brought such memorable stories and perspectives. I get to learn something new every time we record. I feel very lucky — to the point where it doesn’t feel like work.

Can you share a story about the biggest or funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaways you learned from that?

Luckily, any blunders I’ve had hit the cutting room floor thanks to the magical post-editing talents of VBC’s Media Producer, Ellie DePastino. She makes me look good. One blunder that certainly ranks up there was when I called the Navy’s Bonhomme Richard a boat. In addition, I mispronounced the name…in front of a Navy veteran no less. You could hear a pin drop. She was very gracious to correct the pronunciation and point out that there is a BIG difference between a boat and a ship! In the end, do your homework.

How long have you been podcasting and how many shows have you aired?

We’ve been producing The Scuttlebutt since September of 2020, and we are at 30 episodes and counting!

What are the main takeaways, lessons or messages that you want your listeners to walk away with after listening to your show?

The curiosity to educate themselves about the military, not only the culture but the people. We owe the veterans and servicemen and women of this country a debt of gratitude and one of the best ways to do that, beyond saying, “Thank you for your service,” is to educate yourself about what is going on in the military today. If we’ve sparked an interest, I feel we’ve done our job.

In your opinion, what makes your podcast bingeable? What do you think makes your podcast unique from the others in your category? What do you think is special about you as a host, your guests, or your content?

The content really fluctuates and is both entertaining and engaging. Ellie and I make sure that you are receiving a quality product whether you choose to download the audio version wherever you get your podcasts or (my personal favorite) watch us on YouTube. There are numerous military-oriented podcasts on the market, and most are directed to an exclusively military audience. The Scuttlebutt attempts to bridge the military/civilian divide by translating and explaining the often-confusing subcultural elements of military life to non-veteran audiences.

Doing something on a consistent basis is not easy. Podcasting every workday, or even every week can be monotonous. What would you recommend to others about how to maintain discipline and consistency? What would you recommend to others about how to avoid burnout?

You have to have a genuine interest in the subject matter. I thoroughly enjoy researching military issues and talking with our guests and my co-host, Army veteran, Ryan Ahl about them. We like to mix it up too! One week we are talking about Military Sexual Trauma and the next we are doing a hot take on the hilarious inaccuracies of THE HURT LOCKER. One way to avoid burnout is to record an extra episode or two and save them for a rainy day. It gives you a break without your audience missing an episode.

What resources do you get your inspiration for material from?

Any of the military websites I follow, whether that is Task & Purpose, Military Times,, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Stars & Stripes, or We Are the Mighty. I get inspiration from the veterans that appear in VBC’s other online programming as well. I also think it comes back to a general interest in military culture overall. I have more ideas for topics than I have weeks in the year.

Is there someone in the podcasting world who you think is a great model for how to run a really fantastic podcast?

When I started researching military podcasts, I came across THIS IS WAR and was really blown away by their product. It was entertaining and dramatic. The host, Anthony Russo, is very insightful and his team does a wonderful job of editing the stories into exciting and educational episodes. You can tell how passionate they are about the podcast they produce. Not to mention their website is organized and easy to use. That’s very important.

What are the ingredients that make that podcast so successful? If you could break that down into a blueprint, what would that blueprint look like?

A successful podcast has to have a dynamic and engaging host, great sound quality, opinionated guests, and a story to tell in an entertaining way. I attempt to find the sweet spot in each of these categories, which is not always easy. However, if someone is going to choose The Scuttlebutt as an option for their morning commute, I want them to enjoy it and walk away with something that they didn’t know before.

Can you share with our readers the five things you need to know to create an extremely successful podcast?

Know your audience. They are coming to you for your product. Don’t be a military podcast and talk about the weather.

Don’t be afraid to take chances. For example, not everything is bright and cheery in the military and sometimes we ask very tough questions of our guests, such as, “How can the military do a better job of stopping sexual assault?”

Breathe & Relax — It will not be perfect. Nor does it have to be. Be yourself and allow your passion for the subject matter to shine through. The audience will want to take the ride with you because of that excitement.

Editing is key! This is where you can trim dead space and add fun effects. Have I mentioned how awesome Ellie is?

Purchase quality sound and video equipment. I cannot stress this enough. I can’t listen to a podcast that sounds like it’s in an echo chamber or in the middle of traffic.

Can you share some insight from your experience about the best ways to

1) book great guests

Send a message by any means possible. I was able to book a high-profile author by simply sending him a DM on Twitter. Make it short and sweet to respect their time.

2) increase listeners

Keep producing a quality product. Unless you are a big name like Jocko Willink, you aren’t going to have 1 million subscribers in a day. Just keep at it and try to make connections with the network of people your podcast is geared towards.

3) produce it in a professional way

This might take some capital in the beginning but great mics, cameras, and editing software are absolutely key.

4) encourage engagement

Have a mail call in every episode and read your viewer’s emails or messages. Let them know their voices are heard and that you want to respond.

5) monetize it

Build an audience to start. That’s your leverage. We recently landed a new sponsor — D&D Auto Salvage. That was after 25 episodes. Create a sponsor packet and list what the sponsor will get. Airtime, social media promotions, e-blast acknowledgments, guest spots, etc. And what each of those items are worth. Don’t be afraid to ask.

For someone looking to start their own podcast, which equipment would you recommend that they start with?

Great question — I use a MacBook pro with a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 mixer and a Shure microphone. As for the webcam, I have a Logitech HD 1080p camera, and a ring light. It will provide you with excellent lighting for minimal cost.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be?

I would like to eliminate veteran suicide. A lot has been said in the media about 20+ veteran suicides a day, but I don’t think it’s common knowledge. We have seen advances in combat medicine that have helped bring more of our warriors home, but numerous deployments, social isolation, and segregation of veterans from the larger community have created hurdles that veterans cannot overcome alone. This isn’t just a veteran or military problem, it’s an American problem. Building community connections is essential, which is what The Scuttlebutt and the Veterans Breakfast Club try to do.

Thank you so much for sharing your time and your excellent insights! We wish you continued success.

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