‘We are really irreverent.’ How The Hustle makes financial news fun

Zachary Crockett helped launch the Hustle Daily Show

Myelle Lansat

By 

Myelle Lansat

Myelle Lansat

News Editor

Myelle Lansat is a news editor at Policygenius, where she writes the Easy Money newsletter and covers insurance and personal finance. Previously, she was a personal finance writer at CNBC and Acorns, and a reporter for Business Insider.

Published March 9, 2022 | 5 min read

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The Hustle has been providing bite-sized business news to more than a million readers each day through its wildly popular daily newsletter. Starting this year, Zachary Crockett, who edits the Hustle's Sunday edition, led the company’s efforts to conquer audio with the launch of The Hustle Daily Show, a new tech and business podcast. Policygenius talked to Crockett about what Hustle fans can expect from the show.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Pg: How is your approach to this podcast different from other daily news shows?

ZC: A lot of technical business coverage is kind of dry. Our value add is that we are really irreverent. We're always gonna be objective first. We're journalists, but we're also not afraid to poke fun at things. So we have a cheeky, sassy tone sometimes. And we work really hard to find quirkier offbeat business stories that maybe don't dominate the headlines. So in addition to important funding news and big tech regulation and things that are important for people to know about, we work really hard to find stories about McCormick building a hot sauce empire. It might not be the top business headline at the Wall Street Journal. But if you really dig in, there's this crazy dramatic, cinematic tale about these two condiment giants fighting over hot sauce supremacy.

Looking at the news all the time can be grim. Why is it important for people to have an idea of what’s happening when it comes to money and the world?

When the economy's doing well, no one really cares about it, but when it does poorly, everyone suddenly wants to know everything. It's been a weird couple of years. As a tech and business reporter, this has been one of the most fascinating times to cover the economy and business. Anywhere you look there are monumental changes that affect everyone, from supply chains to why is their house delayed like six months? Why are the grocery shelves emptier than usual? All these big business concepts are having a very real impact on average people across the country. Taking all these big conceptual things that are happening in the economy and explaining them in a relatable, palatable way is very important right now.

What advice would you have for people who are hearing all this in the news and want to take actionable steps to apply it to their own life? 

We do our best in every email that we send out and, and hopefully in every podcast episode we produce, to clearly break down why something matters. It's not always apparent why we should care about some piece of big tech regulation happening in Washington, D.C. Our job is to clearly explain the trickle down effect of these things. Someone might not really care about (The North American Free Trade Agreement), but if it affects the price of avocados and the people go to Safeway and their avocado is $3 all of a sudden, then an interesting way to do it might be to talk about avocado toast instead of directly about NAFTA. Talk about why avocado toast is so expensive and how these complex policies factor into that.

Is there anything that surprised you while making this show?

I'm gonna sound totally naive here, but podcasting is really hard. We were kind of lucky that writing a newsletter and producing a podcast are a little bit similar. You're always on a very tight turnaround. Especially as a daily news show, you're always slightly behind the news cycle. It's kind of like a newspaper. Our episode that comes out on Wednesday is really about the news that broke on Tuesday. So you have to work extra hard to add an extra layer to the news because you have to assume that by that point, most people have probably already read it. But there are just so many elements to a podcast.

Did you learn anything new about yourself?

Not necessarily about myself, but the biggest challenge we're gonna face with our podcast is differentiating it from our email. We wanna add new value for the people who read our email. I think we have around 1.8 million subscribers now, and a lot of those people are going to listen to our podcast, but they're also gonna read our email every morning. So it can't just be a regurgitation of the same stuff. We have to work hard to add an extra layer of value in the show. But it also needs to be like a standalone thing for people who don't read our newsletter. So that's something we're gonna continue to work on and think about.

And it's always uncomfortable putting something out into the world really quickly. I'm the type of person, I'm sure a lot of other writers are this way, I like to really give a lot of thought to something before I put it out in the world. I build something secretly and then release it when I think it's ready. So it's been really hard for me to put something out in the world and have this iterative design philosophy where we let our listeners steer the ship and help build it with us.

What do you hope listeners will get out of the show?

Our goal at the end of the day is to inform people, to be objective, to be accurate, and fair. It's news first. We know people are busy and they don't have a lot of time. So one of the things we think about foremost is keeping it short and snappy and having news up top, but also adding an extra dimension that can help people make sense of all the craziness going on in the world right now.

Image: Gabriella Trujillo