“Podcasting is a library, and what I’m doing is authoring the book of each person and putting it on the show.” – Premium Pete
Premium Pete has the gift of gab.
If you ever happen to find yourself in a room with Pete, know that you will be forced into great conversation about music, sneakers, pizza and more. I say “forced” because Pete has a way of including everyone in the room into his conversation at one point or another, a skill that has served him quite well in podcasting.
The host of The Premium Pete Show has become a staple voice in the hip hop realm of podcasting but has expanded past that with the wide array of guests on his show. I sat down and chatted with Pete about his beginnings on The Combat Jack Show, how he found his voice and some of his most memorable convos on air to date.
George Kiel: Describe your role in the beginnings of The Combat Jack Show.
Premium Pete: In 2009, Dallas Penn brought me onto the Combat Jack Show; this was very early on in the show’s existence – like it was only a couple months in. During the episodes at this time, I’d be chilling in the room. I’d bring beer, snacks and different things like that. It reminded me of after school because it kept me out of trouble. You know, when you were growing up, after school was set aside for playing stuff like dodgeball, rope climbing and stuff like that. So when I was older, I felt like that room where we recorded for the Combat Jack Show was after school. People, like M.O.P., EPMD, A-Trak and so many different industry executives in the music business, would come through and chill, drink beer and eat snacks. I just felt like the older me after school. It was a chance for older men with families to kind of unwind; it was like a getaway so to speak.
Kiel: What triggered you to explore using your voice through podcasting?
Pete: What I really loved and figured out that I was good at was conversation. I really had a genuine approach to conversing with people even at a young age. So when I started to hear the landscaping of podcasting and looked at it as a way that you can lead by your voice, I was like, ‘Oh wow, I may have something here.’
Kiel: What do you think was your breakthrough at being comfortable to use your voice through podcasting?
Pete: I didn’t get on until we had a guest on the show, and I didn’t agree with what he was saying. I literally was near the mic, grabbed it and commenced to just straight talking on it. This guy and me just started debating back and forth, and Combat looked at me like, ‘Yo what the f*ck are you doing on the mic?’ But what’s so compelling about that moment is we were talking about race, and up until that point, I don’t think our listeners had heard honest, open dialogue about race and nationalities. He was judging me on being white and not being hip hop enough, and I was like, ‘Nah, I’m more hip hop than you.’ And I was judging him on being a cornball. So to make a long story short, at the end of that show, Combat was like, ‘Yo, What happened? Why did you get on the mic like that?’ And I was like, ‘My bad. I just couldn’t take what the dude was saying anymore, and I felt like I had something to say.’ Then he just looked at me and said, ‘Make sure you get back on the mic for next week’s show.’ People really loved it. He gave me a shot and believed in me from the start. From a small sense, that’s what got me into podcasting.
Kiel: What is it about podcast convos that make them sound more like casual conversations than staged dialogue?
Pete: I’ve had multiple people – whether it be assistants, PR or people that work with the person I’m wanting to interview – ask me to send the set of questions I’m wanting to ask, and I always tell them that I don’t have a set of questions to give them. I always try to go left. If you know, for example, Ronnie Fieg as one way, I want to give you a better example. People know Ronnie Fieg for Kith or know him as a sneaker designer. But – and I’m not saying this is true – he might own 10 properties and is super nice at property management. He could also be someone who went to therapy for 10 years because his mother was divorced and that hurt him. I recently had Gary Vaynerchuk on the podcast, and I wanted to give listeners a different perspective, so I had him discussing a lot about his family, which was interesting. I had Rich Antoniella, the of CEO of Complex, and he spoke, in detail, about how much his father meant to him. I always try to make sure I go left in my podcast conversations but in a pure way; nothing gossipy. I also feel like the people I sit down with, although some of them are big figures, don’t realize how big and inspiring their stories are because it’s their own stories. I feel like all of my conversations are based around real-life experiences, and I don’t like having someone on that just goes over what everyone else already knows. Like, in one of my most recent conversations, I found out Yu-Ming, the owner of Sneaker News, worked in a sweat shop at 10 years old. That made me admire the guy and his hustle even more.