Brooke Bechtold is the founder and president of Humm Productions and the creator and host of the HummbleBragg podcast. Bechtold launched Humm Productions in January 2019 to bring inspiring stories of individuals and the impact of the non-profit community together with corporate social responsibility platforms that provide human context, spark vital partnerships and build healthy activism. The first HummbleBragg podcast episode was released in October 2019. ChicagoTalks sat down with the podcast creator to discuss why she believes the stories she’s telling are lifelines to embrace change, make connections and innovate.
What inspired you to start a podcast?
The reason why I started Hummblebragg is because I rely on other people’s stories, and I knew I couldn’t be the only person to do that. I really wanted to be able to have people talk about what it is that they do, how they do it and allow us to see our similarities. Rather than we’re always so focused on our differences. So how are we similar? What are the things that we like to do? I like to focus on the positive. I’ve always been a very altruistic kind of person and I found that this was the perfect avenue to do that and bring people into the mix.
What types of brands do you support?
It’s important to understand exactly what HummbleBragg is. While we started it as a podcast, talking about people’s stories, it’s very important to also talk about the fact that as creatures, we are who we are and we need to be able to find similarities, we need to be able to find common ground. Humm Productions is in the narrative social impact space. What that means is we are all about telling stories about social impact. Along with that, we value the power of the human voice, social responsibility, and how stories connect us to communities and brands that we support. We all shop wanting to know: where is this coming from? What are they doing with this money? Are they being responsible with foresting? Are they being responsible with water? Are they being responsible with reaching out and including other people into this brand? What are they doing with this extra food? There’s a lot of questions that go around with this. So it’s interesting to talk to people who are actually making that stuff happen.
What has been one of your favorite episodes to produce?
One of my favorite episodes was early on, and it’s called Take Me Home. It started because I had found an article about a ‘brag it, don’t bag it’ campaign going on in Albuquerque. My husband was working in Charleston, West Virginia at the time, and West Virginia had been the epicenter of the opioid crisis. That’s a lot for a little tiny state. I found out that they had this campaign in West Virginia as well. So I found the woman who was the project manager of it and met with her. The 2018 Class of Leadership West Virginia produced this commercial, and it’s a beautiful commercial. Through this commercial, they realized, wait a minute, we’ve just scratched the surface on the diversity that truly lives in West Virginia. I got to talk to them about building that campaign and building the commercial, and the feedback they received. What’s happened from it is now Humm Productions is the lead oral history team for this continuing project called Choose WV, and they’ve actually created a nonprofit. That show is really incredible, about a little tiny state that has had a terrible go at it, and they’re rolling up their sleeves and they’re gonna change the narrative themselves. They are tired of people telling them what they are and who they are when they can do that themselves.
What do you enjoy most about sharing people’s stories?
I love the creativity with which people do what they do. We all do things differently. Although we’re all trying to do the same thing, we have different approaches. I really like that individuality.
How would you describe the listeners of the podcast?
We’ve gotten some great feedback from a lot of our listeners and it’s interesting that while the premise of the show is very much categorically what you would think of for a Millennial or a Gen Z kind of a listener, we have gotten feedback from senior citizens, students, men, women and a very diverse collection of people and that makes me happy. It shows me that it’s working, exactly what I thought was working, people do enjoy one another’s stories.
What are your goals for the future of HummbleBragg?
We want to be able to introduce a new way of enjoying podcasts through a product that we have created called a Docupod. Docupod, a term we trademarked, combines a short video documentary of our storytellers with a full-length HummbleBragg podcast. Through our partnership with Mountain Craft Productions, DocuPod creates a unique, blended experience that allows audiences to fully appreciate how our featured guests live their extraordinary lives, and how, with tools and determination, grit and creativity, they embrace social responsibility. Ultimately what we really want to do is take that to film festivals and to subscription television.
How can people listen to, connect with and get involved with HummbleBragg?
You can listen to the podcasts on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or Soundcloud. You can also connect with HummbleBragg on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. While podcasts are free to listen to, they aren’t free to produce, so you can donate here and 30% of your gift will be donated back to the episode charity of your choice.
This story has been edited for space and clarity.