Peripheral Vision 009: Jesse Thorn on using the internet to create something meaningful

"The fact that I'm an independent media businessman is because no one was interested in co-opting me," Jesse Thorn laughs. It's plenty easy to make light of with a decade's distance and a sunny office overlooking MacArthur Park and the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles. Maximum Fun's Westlake headquarters is reasonably quiet when we arrive, a half-dozen or so employees plugging away on the podcasting network's day-to-day operations, and prepping for its first-ever Atlantic Comedy and Music Cruise. In the past ten years, the Bullseye host has turned a humble college radio program into a bustling podcasting empire. "We started podcasting [Bullseye's predecessor] The Sound of Young America at the end of 2004," says the NPR host. "I thought if I could get 100 or 200 people to listen to this, it would be worth the extra 90 minutes for me to make it into a podcast."

Thorn's secret to success is simple enough: do what you love. And doesn't hurt if you can't possibly do anything else. "It's about is creating something that means enough to you that you're willing to undergo some hardship to sustain it and to create something that means enough to your audience that they're willing to support it - even if it's in surprising ways," explains Thorn. "Even if it's backing a Kickstarter or buying a ticket to a cruise, rather than buying a newspaper. If you can bring those things together, this is a new world. When I got out of college, I didn't get an interview. It was horrible. I ended up working as my dad's secretary, and I'm a terrible secretary - and my dad is a terrible boss. Even if he wasn't my dad, he'd be a terrible boss."

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