We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristin Sutter & Shayna Penn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristin Sutter &, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
HAPPY NEWS NETWORK started during a 3 hours phone call. We (Shayna Penn & Kristin Sutter) are theater stage managers and because of the pandemic, our industry completely shut down. We found ourselves calling each other every week and complaining for hours on end. Did you see this post on Facebook? Did you see this horrible thing in the news? It really started to take a toll on us both. On Wednesday, August 12 we were talking about the mainstream news being so hard to swallow – so much negativity that really affected our mental well-being. We agreed to find our own happiness and if we felt that way, there had to be others that felt similarly. How to share information with an unlimited amount of people, fast? A podcast. In that same conversation we researched streaming platforms, came up with a simple descriptive title, ideas for social media content, and decided our episode format. By the next Wednesday, August 19 our pilot episode dropped. And we’ve released a new episode with new uplifting articles every week. Essentially, our industry shut down. Everything was horrible. We needed something positive to look forward to and wanted to share it with anyone who would listen.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What sets HAPPY NEWS NETWORK apart from other podcasts is our genuine conversation and our desire to spread uplifting news. We avoid any story that could get political or too “COVID”-y. We also don’t ever know what the other person is going to talk about so our conversation is 100% organic. 2020 has been a challenging, lonely year for a lot of folx and we hope our listeners get the sense of us being right there with them when we chat. We learned almost immediately that social media takes a ton of work! We quickly ‘hired’ (note: our team of 3 does this all for free right now) an Associate Producer who came on to create social media content for us and help guide our conversations. Sometimes we can talk about going to the grocery store for 7 minutes and Brandon stops us after 30 seconds with a “Hey! No one cares. Get back to your article,” which is actually so helpful. After just two episodes, we had a female owned small business (Smile Songs. Longmont, CO) reach out to us for a collaboration. That was a huge confidence booster and Shayna started reaching out to folx on social media. Anyone who had a positive outlook on life and had potential to be a good guest on an episode. We were lucky enough to have some amazing people from across the globe come on the podcast. Every single one of them told us how much they enjoy listening to us every week, they all follow us on social media and share their favorite content of ours, and they all had amazing stories to share with our listeners. Sadly, what we wanted to be a 30 minute podcast was quickly turning into a 45 minute interview series. So we quickly pivoted. Our interviews became separate, uncut, videos (we call them minisodes) on YouTube and IGTV. That gave our followers a chance to see us and our guests in a more authentic, real way. The mission of HAPPY NEWS NETWORK is to spread uplifting news. That’s it. We’ve learned so much about not only ourselves, but humanity as a whole throughout this process. For the most part, people want to be happy. No matter your background. Happy news is difficult to find on major news outlets because it’s not as fast paced as the other stuff. Fires, accidents, natural disasters, they’re all quick occurring. Rescuing horses, starting a toy drive at the age of 7, and inventing flying cars take time and research. This year, we’ve had the time to do the research and bring it to you. We start each episode with something that made us smile during the previous week and end each episode with something we’re each looking forward to in the coming week. We also ask our listeners to send us their own happy news whether it’s an article they found or a personal triumph, we love it all and want to share as much HAPPY as we can. It’s brought us a ton of joy and we hope it has for you too.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Denver local, Kristin, here! DAY 1: Breakfast at Dozens. Denver Zoo: the tiger & elephant habitats are unreal! Dinner & beer at Lowry Beer Garden. Ice Cream at Little Man (Lowry location). DAY 2: Breakfast at The Cookery at Myrtle Hill. Hike Gailbraith Trail, stopping at the top for a rest & eat a packed lunch. Post hike tour of Coors Brewery. Dinner at Cap City Tavern & an evening walk around the Capitol. DAY 3: Breakfast Denver Biscuit Co. on Broadway. Drive up Broadway and pop into The Wizard’s Chest. If you’re a theatre person like me, walking around the Denver Center campus is always wonderful. Then head over to Larimer Square for a bit of shopping: definitely grab a snack at the new Larimer Market by Denver Bazaar. At 4p get to RiNo for a ‘craft crawl’: I recommend starting at Colorado Sake and working your way back to the main strip, grab some grub at any of the pubs or food trucks for sure. Definitely be sure to check out all the cool mural art in the district…and have a DD. DAY 4: Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms. Late lunch at Lariat Lodge Brewing in Littleton. Take the scenic route up to Arvada and walk around the sculpture garden & galleries at the Arvada Center. Dinner & cocktails at Schoolhouse in Olde Town Arvada and walk around those shops. DAY 5: Hike Mount Falcon West to see the Western White House that never was. Lunch & walking around Morrison. Drive/Hike around Red Rocks. Head to the other side of Denver, driving across Colfax to do the Driving Tour of Colfax Canvas in the Aurora Cultural Arts District. Ending the trip at Stanley Marketplace: Happy Hour at Stanley Beer Hall, dinner at Rolling Smoke BBQ, dessert at Sweet Cow, and local shopping. *Time permitting, I always try to take people up to Idaho Springs for a true mountain town experience and end the day with pizza at BeauJo’s.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We definitely wouldn’t have been able to grow as much as we have in the last few months without each other and the help of our amazing Associate Producer, Brandon Martin. There’s a ton of work that goes into creating and editing weekly podcasts, minisode interviews, and daily social media content. It’s nice to be a team of friends who are able to have open and honest dialogue with each other: good and bad. We also cannot accomplish anything without our amazing listener base. What started out as just close friends and a few family members has grown nationwide and to over a dozen other countries. Because of social media, we’ve been able to connect with our listeners across the globe and we’ve been able to interview some amazing guests who share their own methods for positivity with us. Truly without our listeners, support systems, and guests we’d just be talking to each other once a week; which is great, but it’s so much more fun to know other people can join our conversation.