Legionnaire launches podcast to share stories of veterans

Legionnaire launches podcast to share stories of veterans

In July 2022, Paddy’s Got Your 6 podcast was launched by Legionnaire Patrick Fegan and his wife Cathy. The inspiration for the podcast were the customers who came into Patrick and Cathy’s Irish pub in Chicago. When customers learned it was veteran-owned, they would share their military stories and even hang a military photo on the restaurant walls.

“I started talking to these amazing veterans and thought I should record this or somehow put their stories out there so people, especially younger kids, can get an education from people who were actually there,” said Patrick, a Marine veteran. “The stories are just phenomenal.”

After selling the Irish pub and moving to a suburb of Chicago, Patrick and Cathy started Paddy’s Got Your 6. To date, they have recorded and published more than 30 episodes. The podcast episodes are featured on the website Patrick and Cathy created called Veterans Helping Heroes at veteranshelpingheroes.com/. “We wanted to show that we are helping veterans by putting all these groups together and making a difference,” Patrick said.

Guests have included Jim Knotts, Air Force veteran and CEO of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund; Army veteran John Lorenz who was born in Poland in 1935 and witnessed its invasion as a young boy; Marine veteran Tom Day who founded Bugles Across America; John "Chickie" Donohue, a Marine veteran and author of "The Greatest Beer Run Ever" that was recently made into a movie; several authors who share their war experience; Chuck Provow, a Korean War veteran and recipient of the Atomic Commemorative Service medal whose mission aboard the USS Curtiss was to protect assets near the Marshall Islands and those assets “turned out to be hydrogen bombs capable of much more devastation than those dropped in Japan in 1945”; and many more amazing stories.

“This is what I wanted to do is get groups of people together and make a difference,” Patrick said, adding that the podcast is growing thanks to the “quality of people we are interviewing.”

Being newbies to starting a podcast, Patrick and Cathy visited Best Buy for guidance on equipment needed. “They were very helpful and explained the equipment that we needed,” Patrick said. They bought a recording board that came with microphones and headsets for around $1,000. From there, Patrick and Cathy figured what worked for them.

Such as:

- Each episode is 20 to 30 minutes. “I want to keep people’s attention span and have the guests come back because they just touch the tip of the iceberg with their story,” Patrick said.

- Episodes are uploaded to veteranshelpingheroes.com and BuzzSprout.com (they pay a monthly fee of $18).

- Interviews are audio only by phone (there have been a few in-person). They bought a business smartphone that connects to the podcast equipment. “When we call them (the guest) from that phone it records the whole conversation,” Cathy said. “From the guests perspective it’s really simple … they just wait for a phone call from us.”

- Interviews are recorded and published the next day. “I worried about how I was going to edit these podcasts. Turns out we don’t even edit them. We just put it out there,” Cathy said. “If you’re a newbie and you start researching you can go down a lot of rabbit holes. Once we got our feet wet with the first couple of episodes, we realized we didn’t need to be super complicated or high tech about it.”

- Promotional efforts is more grassroots. Patrick said growth for Paddy’s Got Your 6 has been from word of mouth and podcast guests sharing on their social media platforms. “They’re all veterans themselves and they want to get their word out, and they’re helping us get our word out, so together we’re getting the information out there to veterans.”

Patrick and Cathy share tips to a successful podcast:

- Research your subjects. “Patrick loves talking to these veterans and he really spends a lot of time researching before we even do the interview,” Cathy said. “We’ve had more than one guests comment, ‘wow you really did your research.’ His passion for these people really comes through.”

Patrick added that he interviews several authors about their experience in Vietnam. “I read the book, take notes and I call them up and say ‘hey would you be available next week to talk about the book?’ You have your notes, you ask questions and they just tell you their story. It’s amazing.”

- Talk to people. For example, while Patrick was getting the oil changed in his Jeep, the manager saw the Marine Corps sticker on the back window. “The manager gave me a business card of his friend who does Jeeps for Vets and last year he did a rally with over 200 Jeeps and he gives the money to a charity group that helps veterans. I called him up, I got him on the podcast. It’s just amazing who you talk to and how many veterans are out there. The people we talk to, they recommend us to someone else.”  

- Don’t overthink it. “Just start,” Cathy said. “Maybe you’ll have to delete a couple of episodes and that’s OK. Everyone is understanding. They know you are starting out and they help you.” Cathy added they while interview a veteran they forgot to hit record and had to do the interview all over. “It’s a learning experience but the support is incredible,” Patrick added. “Once you start, it’s amazing how many people are there to help you.”

- Pick your platform and stick to it. What do you want to promote, what do you want to talk about. And just know that there is help all over the place.

- Do a test run. The first episode was of Patrick sharing his experience.  

- Don’t let guests overtalk. “When I first started out, they would talk and talk and talk,” Patrick said. “You learn how to politely interject a question and they get back on the topic or subject.”

Moving forward, Patrick and Cathy are looking at marketing campaigns and formalizing the business side of it.

“We are ready for the next level, and I think we are going to get bigger names just from people saying, ‘hey, listen to this podcast’,” said Patrick, who would like to do interviews with Legion posts across the country about their different issues. “It's been great fun and I'm meeting so many interesting people with really important topics being highlighted.”