#Solar100’s Todd Alexander, Emily Kirsch, and Stephen Lacey: Solar’s Podcast Experts
In this special edition #Solar100, kWh Analytics’ Richard Matsui speaks with three solar podcast experts, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Todd Alexander, Watt it Takes’ Emily Kirsch, and Post Script Audio’s Stephen Lacey.
With over 700,000 podcasts out there, the medium has gained unprecedented traction. Leading the pack, here are three of the solar industry’s luminaries when it comes to all things podcasting:
Todd Alexander is host of Norton Rose Fulbright’s Currents, a top 200 podcast on Apple’s Business list. In spite of its very niche project finance focus, in 2020 Currents has surpassed 1 million downloads and now boasts a virtual auditorium of 20,000 people listening per episode.
Emily Kirsch is the host of Powerhouse’s Watt It Takes, a live podcast featuring clean energy founders and CEOs. Watt It Takes’ growing guest list includes powerhouses Sunrun’s Lynn Jurich, NEXTracker’s Dan Shugar, and Generate’s Jigar Shah.
Stephen Lacey is the founder of Post Script Audio and co-host of Energy Gang and Interchange. A podcast veteran of nearly fifteen years, he’s taken multiple energy podcasts from start to success.
In this special edition #Solar100, Todd Alexander, Emily Kirsch, and Stephen Lacey talk about the power of effective storytelling and what they’ve learned from starting and building some of the solar industry’s most popular podcasts.
TODD ALEXANDER, PARTNER AT NORTON ROSE FULBRIGHT & HOST OF CURRENTS
Richard Matsui: Currents just hit a million downloads—it blows my mind that there are at least a million instances of people wanting to hear about project finance, and it really speaks to the work you and Emily Rogers are doing. Can you introduce Currents and speak to that milestone?
Todd Alexander: We did recently pass the million-download threshold, but to me the more impressive thing is the growth trajectory. When we started the podcast in 2016, it was geared toward training people who were already in the industry, and most of the initial listeners were at Norton Rose Fulbright. We’ve changed the focus to make it more outward-facing and started having guests on from outside of the firm, including industry thought leaders like yourself, clients of the firm, and only occasionally my partners and or an associate from Norton Rose Fulbright. Over the last 18 months, with that change in focus, listenership has grown exponentially. When we started out, we would have 1,000 to 2,000 listeners per podcast and now we’re at around 20,000 per podcast.
Richard Matsui: Given that shift over time, is there a prototypical audience member that you now envision when you’re inviting guests and putting together interview questions?
Todd Alexander: To be honest, I don’t think about the audience that much. When I was a kid growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I listened to a talk radio host named Milton Rosenberg, a University of Chicago sociology professor. His show was every weeknight when there wasn’t a Cubs baseball game (because he shared the same station, WGN). I remember him having people like Margret Thatcher on one night, and the next night he would have a gardener from the Chicago Botanical Garden. The show was sufficiently popular, so people would want to be on it, and he could decide to have on whoever he wanted and the audience got to learn about whatever he wanted to learn about. He was one of these polymaths, spoke a few languages, and knew a little bit about everything. I remember thinking, “What a great job this guy has—he gets to find and talk with interesting people.”
A lot of the Currents guests are just people who I think have something to say that interests me and that I’d want to learn more about. My process for selecting guests has been, “Hey, I would love to talk to this person for half an hour and understand what’s going on here, and I think that there are other people out there who are interested as well.” So far, it’s worked.
With such a focused podcast, you’re not going to have Serial type numbers. But we know there are other lawyers like myself and a lot of people in our industry who listen to the podcast.
Richard Matsui: Despite the many podcasts out there and your niche focus area, Currents is still consistently ranked in Apple Top 200 Business podcasts. What’s helped Currents to earn the following that it has?
Todd Alexander: I think the first factor is that the projects group that I am part of is exposed to a lot of the cutting edge trends in the industry, which means I have access to a lot of people that I wouldn’t have access to if I were either at another firm or on my own. If I was part of some podcast network and I was based in a studio in Brooklyn, I wouldn’t have access to the same people.
The second success factor is that the producer of the podcast, Emily Rogers, makes it extremely simple for me. Our podcast topics are subjects I work on on a day-to-day basis, so I typically don’t have to do very much preparation for the podcast. Often, I’ll spend ten minutes before recording with the guest to make sure I know the topic and the person I’m meeting, and then Emily has everything set for me to go. We spend approximately half an hour recording, and then I’m done. With Emily’s commitment, editing skills and behind-the-scenes magic, we’re able to make Currents into what it is. Last year we produced 33 podcasts and we’re on target to do that again this year.
A third factor is consistency. The purpose of the podcast for me is to learn from and talk to people that I find interesting, keep abreast of industry trends, and create brand recognition for Norton Rose. We also want to share information among people in the industry and give the guests, like yourself, a platform to share things that are changing in the market. In that respect, our vision for the podcast is clear. And if you have a consistent product that comes out fairly regularly, people expect it and they know when it’s coming and may bookmark it as a favorite podcast on whichever platform they use.
Richard Matsui: You’ve been hosting for about two years now—what have you learned?
Todd Alexander: I’ve learned a couple things about technique. One is that my natural style of talking is to talk over people. In real life, when somebody is speaking I often don’t let them finish what they’re saying—if I have the gist of what they’re trying to say, I will speak over them. That is a terrible technique in recording a podcast because it’s very hard for the listener to understand. When you’re in a face-to-face discussion with somebody, it’s very common, but when you’re recording it sounds terrible. So one thing I’ve learned is to be more patient and let people finish their thought.
The second thing is, in daily life I like to joke around a lot and I’ve realized that my jokes are not that funny. When I listen to the podcast recordings, my jokes just don’t sound very funny. I’ve tried to make too many little jokes, and they don’t translate well without the body language and the interpersonal relationship. Maybe they never translated well, but I know for sure that they don’t translate well through the podcast.
Richard Matsui: I’m sure that’s overly harsh, but that is really funny.
In the world of project finance, are there types of stories that tend to capture the audience’s attention? Are there trends in what people find interesting?
Todd Alexander: There are definitely trends in terms of what people find interesting. Funnily enough, they’re often the types of complex matters that don’t translate well into a podcast, but they’re also the types of things that people don’t want to spend a few thousand dollars on getting a lawyer to explain to them over the phone.
It’s the topics that people want explanation on but don’t have access to an investment banker or a consultant to tell them what’s going on—how the Solar Revenue Put works, for example. From what I’ve seen, our most popular podcast every year is a recording of a presentation that we make for our clients called Cost of Capital that my partner Keith Martin hosts. It has been our most popular episode each of the last two years, and we just released this year’s version of it.
Anything on the cutting edge is interesting, so changes in tax equity, and changes in energy storage, those tend to be the most popular types of podcasts for which we might get over 20,000 downloads. Then I might do something that I find particularly interesting, like hedging, which is also very tough to follow because it’s very detailed and industry-specific, and that might get only a third of the downloads that something on energy storage or cost of capital would get.
Richard Matsui: Are there any changes to the vision of the podcasts that you want to pursue?
Todd Alexander: I love getting feedback from people in the audience. I often get emails from people saying, “Hey, your sound quality wasn’t so good on this one.” Or “I love this topic.” Or “Can you introduce me to this person?” That feedback is very helpful because it’s not live, which makes it difficult to know what’s effective and what’s not. We try to incorporate the constructive criticism that we receive.
I also want to continue bringing on as many ‘Tier One’ guests as possible, so that people keep coming back to the podcast and it continues to be a good place to educate people about the energy and project finance community in the U.S.
Richard Matsui: It’s stunning to think that every time I sit in that interview room with you, there’s a vast auditorium of 20,000 people listening. Who is your dream guest for Currents?
Todd Alexander: Emily asks me that all the time. I’ve been very fortunate, almost everybody that I’ve wanted to have on the podcast has agreed. We’ve had some people in state government, from the Public Utility Commission and NYSERDA, but I have wanted to get some elected officials on. It’s one thing to be a practitioner in the business, to be a consultant or a developer, and it’s another thing when you’re creating policy for energy more broadly. I would like the chance to pick their brains, and hopefully it would be interesting to people in the audience as well.
EMILY KIRSCH, FOUNDER OF POWERHOUSE & HOST OF WATT IT TAKES
Richard Matsui: Can you kick us off by giving an overview of Watt It Takes and then tell us about why you started it?
Emily Kirsch: On Watt It Takes, I interview founders and CEOs of the most innovative companies in clean energy and mobility, and these leaders share how they built their businesses. We record the podcast monthly in front of a live audience at Powerhouse headquarters in Oakland, California.
We started Watt It Takes because the founder journey can be lonely, and as a founder, it’s easy to feel like you’re the only one who has made mistakes or who has ever come close to closing the doors. Watt It Takes shares the realities of that founder journey, both the highs and the lows. We want existing founders to feel a sense of comradery with one another and we want to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs to start companies. We also want to inspire people in traditional tech companies to join our industry. Listeners of Watt it Takes range from founders to VCs to corporate executives.
Richard Matsui: How does Watt It Takes fit into your vision for Powerhouse?
Emily Kirsch: As both an innovation firm and a venture fund, Powerhouse backs entrepreneurs that are building the future of energy and mobility, so we’re focused on the people behind the most innovative startups in the industry. We connect these startups to our corporate partners like Schneider Electric and Enel as well as investors, with the ultimate goal of creating a decarbonized world. Watt It Takes represents that vision by focusing not just on companies and technology, but also on people. We share how these leaders navigate their journey and hope others are inspired to do the same.
Richard Matsui: There’s so many podcasts out there. Do you have some insights on how Watt It Takes has gained the following that it has?
Emily Kirsch: It’s been great to see the listenership of Watt it Takes grow to over 30,000 listeners per episode. There’s a wealth of information about the energy transition, and there are a number of podcasts that do a great job covering that including the ones that you’re featuring in this piece like The Energy Gang and Currents. What makes Watt It Takes unique and what draws people to it, are the personal stories.
One of the things I love most about Watt It Takes is that we record in front of a live audience of about 80 people at Powerhouse, and it’s so much fun. There have been many laughs, tears, and the occasional collective gasp. I think doing the shows in front of a live audience makes it feel intimate, like we’re experiencing the founder’s story together. That’s the whole purpose of Watt It Takes.
Richard Matsui: What are some things you’ve learned from hosting the podcast?
Emily Kirsch: We recently worked on a piece that highlighted the most harrowing and motivating founder stories from Watt It Takes from the past two years. There are two things that stood out to me from that review. One is that almost everyone we interviewed said that they thought the hardest thing was going to be the technology, and actually the hardest thing was people. Leading and managing people has been one of the most consistent challenges from founders that we’ve featured.
The other one that stands out is that almost everyone we’ve interviewed has talked about a time when they were a month, a week, days, if not hours from shutting the doors of their company. It’s something you don’t hear on other forums because founders are rewarded for telling everyone that we’re crushing it and it’s going great, but sometimes it’s just not going great. The guests we’ve featured have been willing to be vulnerable and share those tough times, and it speaks to their courage and bravery as leaders. Their vulnerability normalizes something that we all go through but don’t often talk about.
Richard Matsui: You talked about the vulnerability and courage of the people you’ve interviewed, but your podcasts are done with a live audience, in a room full of at least semi-strangers. I imagine it could be pretty intimidating for people to share their stories in a public facing event. How have you built a space that allows for that kind of vulnerability?
Emily Kirsch: It’s a combination of things. Oftentimes I already know the guest and have a relationship with them that’s built on trust. If I don’t know them yet, I’ll spend some time with them before the interview so they know they can trust me. I always tell them that the interview is in their hands and I’m not going to try to get them to say anything they don’t want to say. When people feel comfortable, they’re willing to be vulnerable in a way that they may not otherwise. Both Dan Shugar and Jigar Shah are known to have big personalities and aren’t known for their vulnerability, but those were two of the most humanizing interviews we had. It’s so important for people to see that side of leaders who are otherwise known for their exterior personality.
Richard Matsui: I remember listening to your interview with Jigar when he commented on the state of equality in the industry and his views on what gender equality in solar looks like. You’ve created space for some interesting and frank discussions that I’ve appreciated and found quite memorable.
Emily Kirsch: Women who have started companies so often get asked, “What’s it like being a parent and a founder?” but men don’t get that question. On Watt It Takes, if you’re a parent and a founder, man or woman, we ask how they balance those things. It’s so important to share those stories with our audience, who can relate to the founders we feature.
Richard Matsui: The comedian Ali Wong talks about that double standard in her Netflix special—the questions people would ask mothers but not fathers, who are (at least theoretically) also equally part of the parenting situation. You’re building that into the conversation, the portion that is often omitted, which is fantastic.
What’s the vision for Watt It Takes moving forward?
Emily Kirsch: There are so many inspiring founder stories yet to be told, and we’re excited to continue to bring people in and give them the opportunity to share what they’re doing with our listeners. We’ve featured founders of some of the companies that are most well known in the industry, like SunPower Founder Dick Swanson, the founder and CEO of Sunrun Lynn Jurich, and former CEO of NRG David Crane, but we’re also featuring founders who are much earlier in the process because we know that so many people in this industry are just getting started or are considering starting companies. We’ve featured founders like Etosha Cave, Co-Founder of Opus 12, Leila Madrone, Co-Founder and CTO of Sunfolding, and Christine Ho, Co-Founder and CEO of Imprint Energy; the point being that we want to highlight the next generation of founders and continue bringing those stories to our listeners.
Richard Matsui: Can you share a favorite episode or favorite moment?
Emily Kirsch: It’s really hard to choose a favorite episode, but one that stands out for personal reasons is my interview with Billy Parish, the founder and CEO of Mosaic. I’ve known Billy for 12 or 13 years now, long before he started Mosaic, and I worked with them in the early stages of the company. Ultimately, my experiences with Billy and Mosaic is what led me to start Powerhouse, so featuring Billy felt like we were coming full circle, and it meant so much to me. I’m grateful for his insights, and he’s one of the most thoughtful, intelligent, mission-driven people that I know, which says a lot given how many people fit that description that are part of the Powerhouse community.
Richard Matsui: We’re big fans of Mosaic here, too. Danny Kennedy has been hugely supportive of us from day one. He was our first Solar100 interview and he’s someone who is really supportive of folks who are new in the industry.
You talked about the vision for Watt It Takes moving forward and how you want to feature the next generation. Who would be some of your dream guests on the podcast?
Emily Kirsch: If we could fast forward to 2030, I would love to interview the founders who have done the most over the next 10 years to reduce emissions, to address the climate crisis, and to enable and scale energy and mobility solutions. I think some of the most important founders of our decade and century haven’t started their companies yet and maybe some of those are the very people who are listening to Watt It Takes or reading this piece right now. I would love to find that person who is inspired enough to take the plunge and feature them when they’ve had the kind of impact that the world is looking to entrepreneurs to fulfill.
STEPHEN LACEY, FOUNDER OF POST SCRIPT AUDIO & CO-HOST OF INTERCHANGE & ENERGY GANG
Richard Matsui: In the past we’ve gotten the chance to interview both your Interchange (Shayle Khan) and Energy Gang (Katherine Hamilton and Jigar Shah) co-hosts, so this one’s been a long time coming. To start, can you tell me how you first got started in solar and in podcasting?
Stephen Lacey: I first started in podcasting in early 2006. I have a media production background, and I got connected with a startup business-to-business publication called Renewable Energy Access. In the 90s, they were one of the first websites focused on the business of solar. They wanted to launch a podcast at the time when podcasting was really starting to emerge, and the founder of the company wanted to stay ahead of this trend. They brought me in to start the podcast because I had an audio production background, and that was how I got integrated into solar and also how I started my podcasting career.
That show took off and we were able to build a pretty sizable audience because we were the first movers in that space. Over time, however, the interest in podcasting waned a little bit in the dark ages between 2009 and 2013. We saw that audiences were continuing to increase, but there wasn’t as much enthusiasm about the world of podcasting. Over that period, I launched a small show at the Center for American Progress, and we did the Inside Renewable Energy podcast for about five years.
I have known Jigar Shah for a long time, so when I went over to Greentech Media in 2013, he called me up and said, “Hey, both of us love podcasts. I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. What do you think about doing a show where we break down the latest trends and news in clean tech?” And I said, “Okay, that sounds great.” We’d both been following one of the first shows that did a round-table style conversation on politics, which is now a very common format. Katherine Hamilton was our policy expert over at Greentech Media, and we knew she’d be perfect for the show.” When we started the Energy Gang, there was still a paucity of energy and climate podcasts out there, so the show really took off because we were a first mover. I’ve since launched my own production company, and I’ve been doing a lot of shows in cleantech and in climate change, and beyond in tech and business. It’s been a long, interesting road.
Richard Matsui: With Energy Gang, it sounds like you started with a combination of the idea, the content experts, and the podcasting. What have you learned about successful podcasting from that experience?
Stephen Lacey: We knew that people were and are trying to figure out this space. There are a couple of things that are important in podcasting. One is consistency in co-hosting, because people get a special connection with the co-hosts. If you can pull together a few people who are able to digest trends and news consistently, that is compelling. People will get attached to that. It’s a really simple recipe, but when you pull it off, it creates something pretty special. We had been listening to podcasts and knew that to be true. Jigar is a big name as a business and finance expert, Katherine has a big name in policy, and I was a journalist, and because we all brought these unique experiences, it just came together and worked. We had some sense of a plan, but once those couple few pieces came together, the show really took off.
Richard Matsui: It’s an interesting point that you’ve made regarding the trust a consistent host can build with an audience. There’s so much information out there that I can see the value in having someone who an audience can rely upon to filter out noise and help contextualize complex ideas.
Stephen Lacey: That’s what’s brilliant about podcasting. If you can communicate effectively, have good production, and have a good presence behind the mic, you can create a sense of authority that is helpful for people. That doesn’t mean that your audience has to agree with you. You can be a sounding board. That’s what the Energy Gang does—we debate. People disagree with us all the time, and that’s fantastic. What we do is provide context and a place for people to start thinking about the issues. We don’t have the definitive take; we don’t expect people to agree with us. What we have is three people who are entrenched in the industry thinking through the subject, and that helps listeners digest the big storylines of the energy transition.
Richard Matsui: According to Tech Crunch, 2019 was the breakout year for podcasts with both supply and demand on the rise. As the founder of Post-Script Audio, you’re now working on podcasting full time. With 700,000 plus podcasts out there, what are some other things that make a podcast stand out?
Stephen Lacey: Number one is investing in pre-production—think through what you’re trying to do. A lot of people assume that because they have something to say, they can just turn on a microphone and say it. That might work for some people, but it’s rare. The shows that really succeed are shows that have a purpose. That means investing a lot of time up front determining the show’s mission and sound.
Number two is investing in decent equipment. There is some pretty good equipment out there for a low cost, and you have to sound good. You can be the best host in the world with the most interesting things to say, but people will not stick around if your audio isn’t easy to listen to. If you put thought into the audio quality, you’ll have so much more credibility with your listeners. Bad quality will detract from the narrative no matter how good your questions are. Think about it—if I went to someone’s webpage to read their article, and it was in four different fonts, and all capital letters and the paragraphs were broken up, I wouldn’t read that article no matter how good the writer was. That’s basically what you’re doing if you have inconsistent audio.
Number three is consistency. There’s a term in podcasting called “pod-fading.” There are 700,000 podcasts out there, but a lot of those podcasts are not being updated. They petered out after ten or twenty episodes because they weren’t quite sure what their mission was or they weren’t getting an audience. Podcasting is a slow build. Podcasts don’t go viral, but when you do get an audience, people stay with you for long periods of time. You have to have consistency to grow a show. The energy and climate space is starting to get crowded. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be launching a show, but the most important thing for developing a new show is to survey the landscape and ask, “How can I do something differently? What can I do that is unique? And if I develop a show, will I develop something that my listeners will miss if it goes away?”
Richard Matsui: What are the most common pitfalls that you’ve seen?
Stephen Lacey: Bad scripting and the inability to tell a narrative. Conversations alone are not going to do the trick; you have to frame conversations. You have to make conversations matter. You have to create stakes. A lot of people who don’t come from a storytelling background assume that you can just have a conversation and it will matter on its own. The majority of the time that isn’t the case. Good framing and thoughtfulness about why a listener should be listening is vital. I think that’s the biggest takeaway.
If you’re serious about doing a podcast, don’t just do it because you think that you have something interesting to say. Do it because you have a bigger goal, and you think you can do it uniquely. The podcasts that I see fail are podcasts that are clearly not thought out, or the host hasn’t really thought about her or his role. Thinking about why you want this show to exist in the world is important. In the early blog years, a lot of people thought, “Oh my god, everyone’s going to want to read my personal journey.” That was true for a little bit, but the quality shook out, and the people who were able to tell the best stories and adapt to the format were the ones who could make businesses and create really important messages. You have to have a clear direction and thoughtfulness about what you want it to be.
Richard Matsui: What I’m hearing is that podcasting is a medium, and it’s an important one that allows for a particular benefit and unique way of connecting, but at the end of the day, you also need to be able to tell a compelling story to use that medium effectively and to its best advantage.
What role do you think podcasts have in the solar media landscape, alongside more traditional print media and online articles?
Stephen Lacey: Podcasts create context and special connections to the people that are delivering information, which allows you to dig deeper into subjects. They’re really pivotal in this very crowded, disjointed, and troublesome media landscape. There are a lot of really important stories happening right now in renewables, and they’re underrepresented in the mainstream press. The industry is going through such enormous change, and it’s going to change the world in ways that a lot of people don’t understand. Podcasts enable us to tell those unfiltered stories, and they give us access to the audience in a way that television news or even a lot of print reporting can’t do. The broader press has started to wake up to these stories, but podcasts still present a special connection with a listener that can tell these stories better. On the business side, they can deliver messaging about how the industry is evolving, what’s working and what’s not working, in ways that’s really compelling.
Richard Matsui: Which stories in solar have been thematically the most exciting to you over the course of your career?
Stephen Lacey: There are so many. One story that I think is misrepresented is just how ubiquitous solar has become in so many states. There has been a rapid rise in employment in workers throughout solar, in installation but also in sales, marketing, and office management. This is an industry that has become an important part of the American economy. Solar has far surpassed traditional industries like coal, and that story hasn’t been fully appreciated. Environmental groups and advocates predicted a rise in solar that a lot of people in the mainstream press and analysis didn’t appreciate, and now everyone’s realizing just how rapid that rise is. The rise in cheap renewables, particularly solar, has surpassed even the most ambitious expectations of ten or fifteen years ago, and the media is not quite grappling with just how transformative this industry is going to be. Is decarbonization happening fast enough? No. Absolutely not. But in terms of technology change and the way solar is going to force incumbent energy players to rethink how they do business, that is an extraordinary story that is still very much playing out. People who are not as familiar with solar don’t fully appreciate it.
Richard Matsui: Why do you think that story has been under-covered or under-discussed?
Stephen Lacey: Well, you look around and you might think, “Okay, I see some solar on people’s houses, I might drive by a big solar installation on the highway, I can see that solar development is happening around me. But I’m still using natural gas to cook, I still drive my car, and I’m filling up with gasoline.” Solar isn’t around us in the same way.
People assume that something with transformative impact is going to happen in a way that will going to touch our lives very quickly, and in reality, that energy change is happening behind the scenes. It’s in large companies’ plans, it’s in regulatory documents that influence utilities to build wind and solar and co-generation. It’s hidden, and I don’t think a lot of people who are outside of energy really understand it.
We aren’t going to wake up one day with solar everywhere. It’s really about the margins and how companies, governments, and eventually people change their energy plans.
Richard Matsui: What role do you see podcasts playing in moving that conversation forward and making it more a part of the mainstream consciousness?
Stephen Lacey: Podcasts can provide people with exposure to what is happening behind the scenes. That’s because there aren’t gatekeepers in the podcast space. It’s a very podcaster-to-listener relationship, so there’s an opportunity to do contextualized longform storytelling. Oftentimes you’ll hear professionals or analysts talk about these topics, and talk about why it matters. In my opinion, that’s more effective than just reading an article.
Richard Matsui: What are the parallels and differences between a podcaster and a journalist?
Stephen Lacey: You have to take your role seriously as a podcast host to the same degree that you would take it seriously as a journalist. I come from a journalism background, so I care about making information as factual as possible, as fair as possible, and with as much context as possible. In podcasting, you have a lot of newcomers who don’t have a traditional journalism background, but you still need to be in service of context and facts. No matter what our backgrounds are, we need to be aware of our obligations to give the audience the best quality information possible, which is difficult. I think if you’re just focused on fairness and trying to get to the truth of something, you can do a lot of good and serve your audience well. Operating in good faith to the facts, the story, and your guests are the most important things.
Richard Matsui: Who is your dream podcast guest?
Stephen Lacey: I don’t have a specific dream guest, But I have a dream outcome. I want to take a really complicated subject and tell the deepest story possible while keeping it accessible. For example, there was a lot of great journalism that came out of the financial crisis. It was very real to people’s pocketbooks, but people who weren’t connected in the world of finance (and even some who were) didn’t understand what happened. A lot of extraordinary storytelling has come of that. I always wanted to take an extremely complicated story like that and make it accessible to a lot of people. I’m still hunting for the right story around the energy transition or climate change that will have that kind of impact.
Richard Matsui: Are there any frontrunners that come to mind?
Stephen Lacey: It’s difficult for many people to understand how the energy transition is impacting businesses and therefore our lives. For example, we’ve seen these major shifts within huge capitalistic companies, and there’s an opportunity to tell a really deep, detailed story about why that really matters and what it represents.
The impact of climate change is also a very difficult story to tell. It’s a multi-generational, multi-decade story, and it’s becoming real for us for the first time. People are realizing that this is happening today, not far-off, decades from now. It’s happening right now. Telling that story in a way that makes people feel that urgency is something that I continue to strive for.