Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook ABJ ’05 co-hosts The Hallmark Channel’s official podcast, The Bubbly Sesh. She also hosts her own podcast, called Feel the Good.
In 2017, you and your friend/co-host Jacks (Jacklyn Collier) started your own Hallmark Channel-themed podcast. How did you get to work for the company itself?
Shawlini Manjunath-Holbrook: I emailed the CEO out of the blue and pitched him our show. It took a few weeks, but he messaged me back and said, “Let’s meet.”
It felt like we were heroines of our own Hallmark Channel movie. We walked into that board room and had 30 minutes on the calendar. It turned into two hours! Eventually, he walked us to an even bigger board room with 40 of their advertising people. He just said, “Tell everybody who you are and what you do.” At the end, he said, “You are all great. I want you at the upfronts with our advertisers, and we are going to acquire you.”
I can’t believe my email led to that. I remember thinking, “What do I have to lose?” Put yourself out there; the worst thing that can happen is someone says no.
Could you describe your shows?
Manjunath-Holbrook: On The Bubbly Sesh, we love talking about relationships and romance and a lot about Hallmark movies, especially the romantic comedies every Saturday night. They just don’t make big-budget rom-coms anymore. When I started watching The Hallmark Channel, that was where I found rom-coms again.
Feel the Good, my personal podcast, is a mix of uplifting and/or reflective conversations with tastemakers, influencers, experts, community creators, fellow podcasters, and creatives doing good, feeling good and spreading good. I love engaging in conversations that promote positivity, education, wellness, spirituality, and personal empowerment.
And your Bubbly Sesh audience is really loyal.
Manjunath-Holbrook: One of the cool things about my job with Hallmark Channel is that we are a bridge to our fans. I love fan engagement. We are now recapping the TV series When Calls the Heart, and that is so much fun. You get to talk about character motivations in a different way than you would in a movie. Movies end. There is a conclusion. But a TV show is evolving. With each episode, you evolve with the show you are recapping.
How are interview-based episodes different than the recaps?
Manjunath-Holbrook: With interviews, as the host, you control the conversation. That takes a bit of direction. It also takes a bit of preparation and research on your guest. We have conversation, but I like to make sure we stay somewhat on track with the interview outline I’ve prepared. We will have side conversations, and sometimes great conversational nuggets come out of those but I always like to make sure we are covering topics I know my listeners want to hear.
And we have to talk about Hallmark Christmas movies.
Manjunath-Holbrook: The Hallmark Channel creates a place of goodness and kindness at Christmas. They know how to create a world you can escape into. And the stories are always about respect, kindness, and love. You won’t ever see something that’s mean spirited. Even if there is a character that is a “villain,” there is still a mature interaction or conflict resolution that is the ideal.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a podcast?
Manjunath-Holbrook: We all have a good time with our friends, but that doesn’t mean someone wants to listen to that. You have to figure out the mission statement of your show and develop a consistent format. It gives the listener something to rely on, and they also feel a part of the conversation. Also, don’t feel intimidated by the editing if you aren’t a natural editor, or putting together a show. There are so many resources out there to help you. Just enjoy the creative process of putting it all together. Have fun!
Listen to The Bubbly Sesh
Listen to Feel the Good
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