… How sisters Serene and Pearl went from social media to podcasting to radio
Having 18 kids between them, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett probably have enough to talk about on that subject alone to fill a five-hour daily radio show. When you add in the fact that they are wildly successful entrepreneurs and experts in healthy living, family, parenting, and work/life balance, and they’ve written two best-selling books, it’s easy to understand why they are the taking the audio world by storm.
Serene and Pearl were born in New Zealand and raised in Australia. They now enjoy the country life in the United States, where they record and produce their podcast and new radio show from a cabin in the woods. Social media followers relate to the sisters because they lay out their day-to-day experiences for everyone to see; they talk about life and all the issues they deal with and how they work through them all. They talk about hope. They are funny. And they have great accents.
Their social media following grew into a podcast, which led to a 7 p.m.-midnight radio show launched into syndication by AdLarge Media in the summer of 2017.
AdLarge Media Co-CEO Cathy Csukas says, “Radio listeners want current personalities with whom they can identify.” The duo even caught the attention of consultant Randy Lane. “When I first heard Serene and Pearl,” he says, “I recognized that rare, engaging star quality that the best radio hosts possess. Serene and Pearl have big, authentic personalities and a lively chemistry that listeners embrace.”
Here’s our interview with two of radio’s newest stars, Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett.
Radio Ink: With 18 kids between the two of you, how do you have time to do a podcast? Serene: We have gabbed and gabbed our whole life, so chit-chat comes natural. Pearl: Serene and I will spend some time talking together — that’s how we stay sane — so now we just record it for others who want to hear what we’re passionate about or what we’re going on about or what we’re inspired from. We don’t do it all professionally. We live out in the country here; we don’t have to drive into town. We walk over to the cabin and just start talking, so it’s easy. Serene: Yes, we’ve got, like, cows peering in the window and children peering in the window. Pearl: It’s definitely unprofessional, but that is how we roll.
Radio Ink: How did you get the word out about the podcast?
Pearl: We have a big community of people who follow us because of our books and our Facebook group. Serene: And the movement — it’s become a movement, women are doing this as lifers. They are doing the healthy eating plan and weight-loss plan as a lifestyle for the long term, and so they were just like, “Hey, we need this.” Pearl: We are probably doing everything wrong, but thankfully, we have always done everything wrong. That’s what makes it fresh.
Pearl: This is interesting, too: People have asked us to come and speak and do conferences. Serene and I tried it a couple of times. First of all, we had to leave our families, which we hated, and secondly, we bombed. We wanted to hide in the closet. We are not the pencil skirt-wearing PowerPoint woman. We just got up and wanted to chat, like in the living room. People feel like we’re doing life with them, and we feel like we’re doing life together, and we thought, “Hey, with a podcast we can connect with everyone just like from the living room.”
Radio Ink: Is social media playing a big part in growing your brand?
Pearl: Yes, absolutely. Our community bonded. We feel like it’s a sisterhood on social media. That translated into our doing the podcast, and that’s how we get the word out. Of course, we send it out by e-mail. We have a great e-mail open rate.
Radio Ink: Talk about a couple of the topics you touch on during the show.
Serene: We talk about growing healthfully, mentally, spiritually, just about growth.
Pearl: Growth in eating healthy, growth in relationships, and we just did a podcast on adrenal fatigue because that is a really trendy topic and so many people are dealing with or think they have it, and guess what, they don’t.
Pearl: And they go around wearing this “adrenal fatigue” label, and we are like, “Hold on a minute, perhaps you don’t have adrenal fatigue,” because I thought I had it and went and got tested and I was doing just fine. And sometimes we put these things on us and they wear us down, and we are all about freedom.
Serene: That is what we are about. We are about freedom — freedom from fear, freedom from depression. We are about hope. We talk a lot about hope.
Pearl: It is very positive. There is so much negative in this world, and so many times our brain focuses on the negative. And we always say, we are here to boss your brain around because it needs it. We can get so down, and we want to push the positive.
Radio Ink: At what point when you were chatting did you know you were onto something big?
Pearl: It’s all about feedback. I remember the first podcast we did. Serene is totally unplugged, she doesn’t do social media, so I’m the one who goes on, and I’m on quite a bit. And then after our first podcast, my inbox was flooded with thank you’s.
Serene: I was crying on the kitchen floor. I needed that.
Pearl: People feel so alone in all they are going through. Weight and health are big deals to mothers, as well as relationships.
Serene: We also talk about very personal things I think they relate to that. We’re willing to get real and vulnerable and share the struggles in our life and how we overcame and got victory.
Pearl: And we still have junk that we are going through. So yes, it was feedback from the women and those who listen, telling us, “Please keep doing it.”
Radio Ink: How did you come across Randy Lane?
Pearl: The folks at AdLarge introduced us. They actually were one of the ones that had this idea that we could take this community we had built and do a podcast and a radio show, that it would just naturally grow into these things. They passed Randy Lane on to us. We met him several times. He has had so much wisdom to give us. We know nothing. We have no history with this. We are long-winded, and he was like, “Girls, can we try saying what you just said in two minutes instead of 10?”
Radio Ink: So the radio show you have started is completely different from the podcast? Serene: Yes — we are just banking a bunch of fun radio. The radio is electrically fun.
Pearl: And again, we talk about the things that other women like us, and maybe even men, are going through, like parenting, like who’s the person in your house designated to clean the throw-up from the dog or the baby. We talk about things we are going through.
Serene: Sometimes we go deep and try to inspire, challenge. It’s always positive, hope, and a lot of funny thrown in there.
Pearl: It’s completely different from the podcast, and we think a lot about who are the people in the community that are going to join in and listen, because they are so loyal and we are so blessed.
Radio Ink: Do you have to go to a studio to record the radio show?
Pearl: In that same cabin as the podcast.
Serene: It is the poddy cabin and, we just walk over with our mud-muck boots.
Pearl: And then we sit down and we have had to do the two-minute thing and keep it shorter.
Serene: The only thing organized about it is we have a time clock.
Pearl: It’s so much fun and better than going out in a pencil skirt and doing conferences.
Serene: Can’t do that anymore.
Radio Ink: Is your goal to eventually have your own morning radio show?
Pearl: The goal is to definitely put this radio show out there. It’s more like an afternoon show.
Serene: It’s not going to wreck our lives if it doesn’t happen. We are so happy to be mums, but we will give it a go.
Radio Ink: Let’s say you have a room full of GMs who have the decision to add shows or not. What would you say to them, separately, about why they should pick it up?
Serene: I would say the difference with our show is that it is fresh and different. It is not the normal in-the-box that may have come out many times before. It is going to be something positive that all the listeners will leave with a smile on their face
Pearl: Yes, I think we give people something to take away every time, and we are going to give them tips and great things to take and improve their life, whether it is health or relationships. We are probably going to do it all wrong, but sometimes wrong is right. In this world where everyone feels so sold to, Serene and I are not good at selling
Serene: They are not going to get polish from us, they are going to get real.
Radio Ink: It sounds like you are having a ton of fun.
Pearl: Yes, we are, because if it’s not fun, we aren’t going to do it. We didn’t think to ourselves one day “Let’s have a radio show or podcast career” because we are really happy being moms and we are happy with the way the books have gone in our business. We weren’t really longing for this, but it opened up and it felt right.
Serene: There is no ambition behind this. It’s like flowing down a river for as long as it takes us.
Pearl: So if it doesn’t work out, we’ll go back home.
Serene: I will go and make homemade bread. It will be good. We will be good.
To hear a demo of the Serene & Pearl Show, go to www.sereneandpearl.com.
Stations interested in learning more about The Serene & Pearl Show can contact Gina Suarez at [email protected] or 646-759-8431