Editor’s note: The following story originally was published on Tuesday in an incomplete form. It appears here in its entirety.
Roberto Rodriguez is no stranger to opening a new business, and he hopes his current project will help bridge the communication gap brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced people to isolate themselves more than they are used to.
Speak Studio, housed on the second floor of the Bennett Building at 503 W. Main Ave., has an array of audio and video equipment that people can use to create their own podcast or YouTube video. As podcasts have grown in popularity, Rodriguez is convinced they’re the communication avenue of the future.
“It’s been a way to communicate with individuals and communities at a close level,” he said. “We’re going to be the voice for the community. We’re a safe place to speak and be heard.”
Rodriguez said he likes podcasts because a person can get immediate feedback as people listen. “Podcasting is just a really quick way to connect with the community and listeners you’re trying to reach,” he said.
Last year he started the podcast “Running Start,” in which he interviews local business owners and entrepreneurs. The podcast can be heard at episodes.speakbroadcasting.com.
Rodriguez grew up in Longview, Washington, and came to the Spokane area to attend Eastern Washington University, where he earned a degree in marketing. He decided to stay in Spokane because he saw its potential, he said.
He graduated in 2018 and though only 24, he’s already launched several businesses. When he was 17, he started a business repairing iPhones. Then came a clothing company that specialized in socks, which failed. He owned his own residential landscaping company and has regularly done digital marketing consulting. He also owned a private property management company that he shut down to devote his time to Speak Studio.
“I’m a serial entrepreneur at heart,” he said.
Rodriguez decided to rent space in downtown Spokane for his newest venture because he wanted to help bring life to the area. “We love being in the heart of downtown Spokane,” he said. “The downtown area really fits the vision of Speak being part of the community.”
The studio opened its doors Aug. 1. People who rent the space or buy a membership can use all the equipment, and an audio technician is on hand during recording sessions.
“We do all the postproduction at the end and deliver your podcast to you,” Rodriguez said. “We want to make it as simple and easy as possible for anyone to start a podcast.”
There are a variety of options for people who want to use the studio. A $199 membership includes two two-hour recording sessions a month and access to the Speak Members Area. A $399 package includes 24-hour-a-day access to record four two-hour sessions a month plus access to the Speak Members Area. There is also a free option for those wanting only one recording session a month. Details are available at speakpodcasting.com.
People can also choose to rent the studio for $100 an hour without purchasing a membership. “It’s a very affordable model,” Rodriguez said.
The studio is open by appointment only. People can call (509) 219-0366 to set up an appointment for a tour or recording session. Hourly recording time slots can also be booked online at peerspace.com.
Rodriguez is still looking for corporate sponsors, but he said Speak Studio has been well received so far. “It has been incredible,” he said. “We’ve had a great response.”
It’s been going so well that Rodriguez is already making plans to open a second studio in Coeur d’Alene, perhaps as early as next month. “We believe every community has their own voice,” he said.Rodriguez is excited that people are using Speak Studio to get their voice heard.
“I see that as a great thing,” he said. “People have things they want to say, have things they want to talk about. We believe right now is a crucial moment for people to find a new way to connect with one another and podcasting is that solution.”