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Straight Outta Windsor: Proof Positive Of The Good In The Region

Photo: For both his podcast and YMCA work, Andy Sullivan literally picked up the ball (and mic) and ran with it! Photo by Joe McParland

Straight Outta Windsor: Proof Positive Of The Good In The Region

Listed on Wikipedia, podcasting (previously known as audio blogging) has roots dating back to the 1980s. With the advent of broadband Internet and portable digital audio playback devices, such as the iPod, podcasting began to catch hold in late 2004.

Today, there are more than 115,000 English language podcasts available on the Internet, and dozens of websites available for distribution at little or no cost to the producer or listener. And, according to one survey in 2017, 42 million Americans above the age of 12 listen to podcasts at least on a weekly basis.

One of Windsor’s newest podcasts, Straight Outta Windsor is the work of Andy Sullivan.

Sullivan’s day job is the Regional Manager of Operations for the YMCA, Western Ontario Region. He joined their team three years ago when the “Y” was still downtown. He helped oversee its move to 3402 Grand Marais East, inside Central Park Athletics, as it expanded its membership from 400 to over 3,000.

Windsor born, Sullivan was raised by a single mother who instilled in him the spirit of volunteerism at an early age. Like many young people, while growing up, he had a negative view of Windsor and what the city could offer him. Yet, through his mother’s intervention in involving him in Big Brothers, Boy Scouts, church groups, Little League baseball, etc., Sullivan was presented with many positive experiences and influences.

He attended St. Clair College for business, but at the age of 22 landed the position of managing one of Windsor’s GoodLife Fitness gyms — with no human kinetics background. He would go on to manage four different locations during his 10 years with them, before moving on to the YMCA.

Part of his responsibilities brings Sullivan into area high schools as a special guest speaker on behalf of the YMCA. It was at one such speaking engagement that the genesis of his podcast was sparked. He asked the students how many were prepared to stay in Windsor after graduation. He was dismayed to find out only about 20% to 30% wanted to stay.

As Sullivan relates, “one student explained that Windsor had nothing to offer and that no one ever made it big from here.”

He responded to the student by telling him that we have Stanley Cup and Super Bowl winners, Major League baseball players, professional golfers, actors in television and movies, artists and billionaires — all from Windsor who made it big.

On his drive back to the office, his response to that student kept replaying in his head. With each replay Sullivan grew in excitement and came up with having a podcast that would extol the many virtues of Windsor and the success stories of its residents. This was his “aha moment” and Straight Outta Windsor was born.

That night, he was all fired up and compiled a list of people from Windsor who have gone on to great achievements and was blown away by the number he gathered. He sent away 10 emails to 10 of these people, introducing himself, his vision for the podcast and inviting them to participate.

The following day he received a telephone call from the Office of the Right Honourable Paul Martin, Canada’s 21st Prime Minister. They had received the email and presented it to Mr. Martin who liked the idea and had his staff schedule an 11 a.m. telephone interview with Sullivan for the next day. Thus, Martin became the very first guest on the podcast in February 2018.

As Sullivan recalls, “I was in a panic. I had no idea how to do a podcast and had to research it. I had to research Mr. Martin in order to carry on an intelligent conversation with him.”
He pretty well stayed up all night setting up his podcast – which he describes as “radio on demand or Netflix for radio” — as well as researching Martin’s background.

At the time of this writing (mid-October) he is in week #36 of podcast shows and has over 200 names of people and organizations put together for future shows.

So far, besides Martin, here are a few of the names he has profiled: —former Major League Baseball player, Joe Siddall, who is co-hosting “Blue Jays Central”; Dave Hunter, from “Dave & Chuck The Freak” from 101 WRIF; Randa Markos of UFC fame; Jeff Burrows of The Tea Party; David Sobolov, voice actor and the voice of “Rob Cop” and the voice of “Blitzwing” in the upcoming Transformer’s “Bumblebee”; Windsor’s Poet Laureate, Marty Gervais; AM800’s Mike Kakuk; Transition to Betterness; Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens; as well as our own Publisher of Biz X magazine, Deborah Jones.

Curious to meet the Straight Outta Windsor podcast production team? Here it is: Andy Sullivan. Yep, that’s his entire team responsible for arranging interview times and locations, researching the topics, producing and conducting the interview, editing and uploading the finished product for the 3,000 to 5,000 plus listeners.

His uplifting, positive podcasts have peaked with as many as 20,000 hits for The Tea Party episode, and the Fight Like Mason Foundation coming in at around 30,000 hits so far.

Speaking about both what he does at the Y and in his podcasts, Sullivan beams, “I love what I do.” This is more than evident in the infectious enthusiasm he demonstrates. This untrained for broadcasting, “gym rat” and business major, is as polished an interviewer as I have heard, both in his content and delivery.

Tune into Straight Outta Windsor from any of the many available platforms, or on their website.

You will definitely come away with a much better understanding and appreciation for this great community of Windsor and Essex County and what it has to offer.