Reconnecting with Rachel Gilbert
Rachel Gilbert is a voiceover artist and the current host of the London Free Press podcast, which she described as “a wonderful experience”. Listeners will likely also remember her as one of the co-hosts of “The Dave and Rachel Show” on Pure Country 93 (formerly BX93) in London, ON.
Earlier this year, Rachel and her co-host, Dave Collins decided to leave the radio station at the same time in order to pursue other things. This now includes a new podcast called, “Due to Underwhelming Demand” which has reunited Dave and Rachel with their other co-host, known as “Forman” (Andrew Gordon).
In February 2020, Forman was let go from the station (which is explained in the first episode). Then the pandemic quickly followed, and that lead to a number of challenges. For example, Dave and Rachel were unable to address what happened to Forman on air, and due to COVID-19 protocols, Rachel began working from home. Additionally, Dave and Rachel were often harassed by listeners after they read the news about various political stories or the pandemic itself. However, Rachel wanted everyone to know that they still had “so much fun” working together.
With regards to the pandemic, Rachel said, “COVID made things hard for us. Mostly because it was so stressful for everyone and we felt like we were punching bags for a lot of people. That sucks when you’re just trying to do a show and do your job. It didn’t matter if we were stressed or angry about the pandemic. We still needed to put on happy faces and entertain. That being said, many people thanked us for being there for them and most people were so kind. Working from home was a challenge because it’s always a little harder to gel when the three of us are in different places and just looking at each other on Facetime—but I loved getting an extra hour of sleep, wearing sweatpants and not having to put on makeup!”
“Honestly, it never felt like work when we were together.” Rachel continued. “I never dreaded going into work. It made getting up at 3:30 AM worth it! Since we’ve all left the station now, we decided to do a podcast together, on our own time, because we have fun creating together! ….We had a lot of questions surrounding why we left, so we wanted to clear some of that up. Also, when I chose to leave the radio station, I honestly felt like I was letting some people down. I know what it means to be lucky enough to connect daily with people and be welcomed into their homes and families. I never took that for granted. I also loved connecting with them! We all felt like we could still do that, but in a new way, as a podcast.”
“When we started the podcast, we initially said we would do a couple and see how they were received. When we got over 1400 downloads on the first one in less than a week, we knew we were on to something! So, for now, the goal is to continue producing them once a week. We may eventually do twice a week but that takes time away from our other jobs, so that’s a long-term goal.” Anyone who would like to support the production of the podcast can do so here.
Today, Dave, Rachel and Forman are still working separately from each other as the podcast continues. Forman is now the only host who remains in the radio industry as part of “Melody and Forman in the Morning” on Hot Country 103.5 in Halifax, NS.
Throughout her own radio career, Rachel had the opportunity to meet many celebrities, but one of her most memorable experiences was with Tim McGraw:
“….Tim McGraw went over and above when we met him. We had a private meet and greet for just the radio employees and he came and sat with us and chatted and took photos and signed autographs. He was just so sincere and kind. He even called our boss the next day after his show, and left a voicemail thanking him and us for being there!”
Rachel and her co-hosts could usually be found on stage at concerts and other events in London, which gave her a sense of community:
“Any time we hosted a charity event, like ‘Dave & Rachel’s Breakfast Thing’, the generosity of Londoners would stun me. People are just so willing to give to a good cause and it didn’t take much for us to raise enough money or collect enough food to stock the shelves at the Food Bank. Our listeners are really the best for that! They are so kind hearted and generous! I do miss going to concerts and seeing how fans react to new artists or songs. That really is the litmus test for who will be the next big star, and it was cool to witness that. I also really loved meeting listeners in person. …People who called us regularly would introduce themselves so it was cool to see what they looked like!”
“I started a TikTok account just before the pandemic hit and never knew what to post. So, I figured I'd post something that we talked about on the radio station that resonated with the listeners; I kept getting tiny holes in my shirts around the belt-line and couldn't figure out what they were from! On the spur of the moment one day, I posted a video asking if anyone else has this problems and it turns out, so many people do! I had over 1 million views in less than 24 hours, and to date, that video has 3.4 million views. After that, I was contacted by an American company that makes button covers for your jeans, to prevent holes from ripping in shirts! I've found that, what gets traction and attention is just the simple, everyday things we all deal with. People want to connect with one another like never before, and if you can be relatable and pleasant, people will pay attention because they see a little bit of themselves in you.”
Although she misses working with Dave and Forman every day, Rachel is glad that they have found an outlet for their show to continue via the podcast. Stepping away from the radio also means that she has more “flexibility” in her career. “Since I’m running my own business, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, which has been awesome so far.”
Finally, Rachel Gilbert admitted that making a career change was “the scariest but best thing” she ever did for herself, and she hoped that others would be able to follow her advice if they are in a similar situation:
“First of all, make sure you can support yourself financially with your new venture; even if you’re making less, make sure it’s a wage you can live on. Secondly, get your financial ducks in a row. Talk to a financial planner for advice, get your rent/mortgage stuff in order and make sure you can cover yourself financially. Make a pro/con list for why you should leave/stay in your current job and take a few months to consider it before making a decision. Talk to anyone else you can find who has also changed careers and see what they had to do to make it work or make the change. You can change and I’m a big believer in making a change if you’re unhappy or if you just feel like it’s the right time. But it does take planning and careful consideration so you can make the new career work for you long-term.”
“Due to Underwhelming Demand” is available wherever you listen to podcasts.
Photo courtesy of Rachel Gilbert.
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