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The Pop Culture Preservation Society

Ready for a nostalgic joyride? Join us for a candid (and frequently hilarious) conversation with the charming hosts of The Pop Culture Preservation Society podcast: Carolyn Cochrane, Kristin Nilsen, and Michelle Newman. In this episode, we highlight the power of nostalgia in creating a sense of well-being and connectedness — and what it means for audiences to share in the joy and comfort of those formative experiences.

Carolyn, Kristin and Michelle (self-described “die-hard members of the Big Wheel Generation”) reveal the origins of their podcast and how their shared love for Gen X pop culture from the ’70s and ’80s inspired them to create a vibrant community centered around reliving cherished memories.

In this episode, you’ll learn from the experts on how to celebrate nostalgia as a means of bringing people together, sparking conversations, and creating a sense of relevance and belonging. Plus: the evolving nature of influence, the rising role of social media creators, and the need for personalized recommendations and relationships to help navigate the modern abundance of brands and products.

We really hope you enjoy this extra-fun episode! Be on the lookout for:

  • What it means to get “Hüsker Düed”
  • Why nostalgia is not about the desire to relive the past, but rather savoring the memories and connecting over shared experiences
  • The importance of drawing connections between our own childhood experiences and broader cultural contexts
  • How brand names alone can spark nostalgia: e.g. Esprit, Candie’s, Kissing Potion, Love’s Baby Soft
  • What Gen X learned about influence from spending idle time at the mall
  • How brands should adapt to individualized content experiences, now that we’re not all watching the same shows/commercials

Learn more about our guests:

The Pop Culture Preservation Society: The Pop Culture Preservation Society is a podcast dedicated to preserving and elevating the unsung pop culture nuggets of the classic Gen X childhood. Enthusiastic fangirls Carolyn, Kristin and Michelle regularly discuss and dissect the crushes, clothes, books, movies, songs, tv and toys that shaped our youth. They also focus on the role nostalgia plays in our lives and how recalling these positive memories increases our sense of connectedness and well-being.

Carolyn Cochrane: Carolyn Cochrane is a former English teacher turned writer, and the creator of Jotted-Lines, a notecard company preserving and celebrating the nostalgic art of the handwritten word.

Kristin Nilsen: Kristin is a children’s book author, collector and curator of stories at  My Celebrity Crush Story, and previously worked as a librarian.

Michelle Newman: Michelle is a former blogger (You’re My Favorite Today), spent over two years writing TV recaps for Entertainment Weekly, and currently freelances for a variety of publications.

Episode 32: The Pop Culture Preservation Society Transcript

Danielle Wiley: Welcome to The Art of Sway, the podcast that uncovers the power of influence and its impact on all areas of our lives. I’m your host Danielle Wiley. Each week, we’ll explore the many facets of influence through candid conversations with industry insiders, from brand marketers to social workers, educators, leaders, and more. Let’s dive in.

Danielle Wiley: The Pop Culture Preservation Society is a podcast dedicated to preserving all the pop culture nuggets of our Gen X childhoods, from the Bee Gees to the Brady Bunch, Schoolhouse Rock to Seventeen magazine and including conversations with Gen X heroes like Melissa Gilbert, Christopher Atkins, and an upcoming chat with Shaun Cassidy, their episodes cover all the moments that defined so many of us growing up. Caroline, Kristin, and Michelle, your pop culture preservationists, crack open your childhood and provide a respite from modern day stresses with their fun walks down memory lane, bringing you joy, comfort, and endless laughs through these formative memories and shared experiences.

Danielle Wiley: I knew this conversation was going to be fun before I even plugged in my mic, but even my high expectations were blown away. Talking about ’70s and ’80s pop culture nostalgia with this trio of smart women was an absolute blast. Had I not had other meetings booked after the recording, I could’ve talked to them for hours. Please enjoy this walk down memory lane.

Danielle Wiley: Thank you again for coming on. I think I told you in my email, I found you guys through your Instagram first, and then realized there was this whole amazing podcast behind the scenes. And so, yeah, was a fan of yours and then reached out, so it’s a double extra pleasure.

Carolyn Cochrane: Thank you.

Kristin Nilsen: The social media feed is the creativity of Michelle’s brain.

Carolyn Cochrane: Yes.

Kristin Nilsen: She’s on that 24/7.

Danielle Wiley: It’s so good.

Michelle Newman: It’s a lot.

Kristin Nilsen: She’s a master.

Michelle Newman: But I enjoy it. Yeah, it’s really fun to post daily Gen X memories and that’s actually how we’ve got a lot of our listeners, and that kind of is the method to our madness, right there, but we also totally understand. Some people just like social media and we wanted this to be a whole society of nostalgia, so I’m glad that you found it-

Danielle Wiley: Love it.

Michelle Newman: … and I’m glad you enjoy it. Thank you.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah. Before we jump in, I can just go down a total rabbit hole of nostalgia and I’m trying to hold myself back.

Carolyn Cochrane: No, it’s our favorite thing.

Kristin Nilsen: We’re here for it, come on.

Danielle Wiley: Why don’t we just start, just if you guys can kind of share the origin story of The Pop Culture Preservation Society and how you met each other and what inspired you to create this community that I’ve come to love, and hopefully all of our listeners, too.

Michelle Newman: Well, I’m Michelle and I met Carolyn and Kristin when I joined their writing group in March of 2019. So we’ve only known each other for four years, which comes as a surprise to a lot of our listeners. A lot of them say it feels like, when they listen to us, they feel like we’ve been friends for decades. Carolyn and Kristin had known each other, what you guys? Maybe a year and a half, two years prior to that? So it’s been-

Kristin Nilsen: A few years.

Michelle Newman: … six years they have known each other and four years for all three of us. So among other things, like I said, we’re writers, and in the summer of 2020, I was writing an article for an online publication called The Girlfriend, and it was about fangirling after 50, so I just casually reached out to Carolyn and Kristin to see if they’d do a call with me, so I could maybe get a good sound bite for my article. We weren’t even super close friends yet, but I knew-

Kristin Nilsen: We had just met.

Michelle Newman: Well, it had been about a year and a half, but I knew that they, like me, were fangirls, because in the spring of 2019, they had gone to see Shaun Cassidy in his first concert in Santa Barbara, California, and I was wildly envious of that. That’s when we had first become friends, so I was still the new girl. I didn’t know them well enough to say, “I want to come, too. This sounds awesome.”

Danielle Wiley: You got left out of the-

Michelle Newman: Yeah, but I knew we had like minds, right? So I called them in August of 2020 and the three of us had about a two-hour conversation about-

Danielle Wiley: Wow.

Michelle Newman: … all the things we remembered and loved from our childhoods in the ’70s. We started with crushes and we just kind of flew from there. And remember, this is in August of 2020, so we are craving connection. We’re craving joy.

Danielle Wiley: Right, right.

Michelle Newman: And as we wrapped up the phone call, we were all commenting on how much fun it had been and just sharing all the things we had all experienced at the same time, and Carolyn just kind of casually throws out, “You guys, I’m going to start a podcast and talk about this, and I don’t even care if anyone listens.” And we just were sort of like, “Okay, sure.” Everybody’s starting a podcast, right, in 2020. But these memories and this nostalgia, it had lit such a spark of joy in the three of us and we thought, we bet it would for others, as well, and it has.

Carolyn Cochrane: Yeah. It’s been amazing to see this journey unfold. Honestly, it was that rush of dopamine after we had that initial two hour conversation where I was like, again, I didn’t care if anyone listened, because how I felt was so great. But then, we thought, “Huh, I wonder if other people would feel this way.” So just like Michelle just said, I just said, “You guys are doing this with me.” I announced it at writing group, so they couldn’t really back out and we went on this journey which, I have to tell you, we knew absolutely nothing going into this. I like to say that I use GarageBand for editing, because I do all the edits, and I had always deleted GarageBand off my computer, on my Mac. It’s like, “I don’t have a band in my garage, I don’t need GarageBand. There it goes.” Now, it’s like my best friend.

Carolyn Cochrane: And so, what I think the three of us have learned is that it’s never too late to try something new. We are all in our 50s. We did not grow up with technology. We have taught ourselves what we are doing and that, in itself, is a dopamine rush. When I do my stuff on GarageBand and take things out and I edit and, “Oh my gosh, it sounds like there wasn’t even a whole section I took there.” Or I put in clips of music and think, “Oh my gosh. That sounds really professional.” It’s a thrill, it’s a joy. And, I swear, I feel younger today doing this stuff than I might’ve felt 10 years ago, it is never too late.

Kristin Nilsen: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Newman: Mm-hmm.

Danielle Wiley: Well, I’m so glad that you guys met each other, because the content you put out is just so much fun. Because we’re an influencer marketing agency, we kind of talk about nostalgia just for the power of it and how it can kind of reach people and bring them out and generate so much engagement. It works really, really well for our clients, so we kind of look at it almost from not educational, but looking at it kind of philosophically and what is this going to do for our clients, versus just this feels good to me, personally. What do you think is so powerful about nostalgia? Why do you think, and maybe this is just kind of your personal perspectives on it, since you’re kind of steeped in it so much every day, but what-

Michelle Newman: That’s true.

Danielle Wiley: … do you think is so… I don’t know if you guys remember or saw it going around, I’m sure you remember it, the Nestle Alpine, those white chocolate candy bars, the commercial was going around on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and I had not thought about it since the ’80s. And then, I literally spent a week walking around my house singing. My 17 year old was ready to kill me. I was like, “Creamy white…”

Carolyn Cochrane: Welcome to our world.

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, uh-huh. We call that getting Hüsker Düed.

Michelle Newman: Hüsker Düed. Yeah. It’s getting Hüsker Düed.

Kristin Nilsen: When you hadn’t thought of something for 30 years and then it’s put in front of your face and you just go, “Oh, boom.” It just smacks you in the face.

Carolyn Cochrane: Right, and that’s a lot of the kind of comments we get from people. So in answer to your question about nostalgia, only now have I gone back and researched that there are some powerful, real benefits to it in our emotional systems, in the dopamine rush that we get. It really does increase a sense of well-being and connectedness and I don’t know that we knew that going into it, I mean, for the three of us. But the power of this social media account we have and the podcast has truly blown us away. When people will thank us for, like you just told us about the Alpine candy bar commercial, we’ll put something up and someone will say, “I haven’t thought about this in forever,” and they’re so excited. And then, another person will post an answer to them and they get in their own little conversation.

Carolyn Cochrane: And just, there’s this warm feeling knowing that all of these others experience the same thing at the same time, and our biggest arguments on the Instagram account might be Leif Garrett or Shaun Cassidy. It’s just a place where you can come and feel good and this nostalgia piece, it’s just really hit home at a time when people kind of needed some connectedness. As Michelle just said, when we launched, I mean, we kind of hit a sweet spot in things like that, and I think that helped with the growth initially. But just, for us, it feels good, and it was almost affirming to know, “Okay, this is real”. What we felt is what all of our listeners and followers are feeling, as well.

Kristin Nilsen: And I think it also helps people feel relevant, because as you start to get older, there’s a day when you realize there are people out there who don’t know your references and that can be kind of scary. And I remember the day I was with my son and I went, “My nose,” and he didn’t know what I was referring to, and it stopped my heart for a minute. And so, when you’re then surrounded by people who know that I’m talking about Marsha Brady when the football hit her in the face, I’m like, “Oh no, it’s all right. It’s all right. I still have a place in this world. I still have something to contribute. I’m not being forgotten.”

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I went in to get my haircut a few months ago and I didn’t like the shape of it and I was trying to explain to him and he’s like 30. I stopped going to him now, and you’ll see why. But he’s like 30 years old and I was trying to explain and I was like, “It kind of looks like a Monchhichi.” And…

Carolyn Cochrane: Oh, I can see it. I know what you mean.

Danielle Wiley: And he was like, “What?” I was like, “A Monchhichi. It’s like this little…” And then I was digging this hole. I’m like, “It’s this little monkey thing, with kind of like an Afro.” And I was like, “This is not going well.”

Kristin Nilsen: And then you feel old.

Danielle Wiley: So forget you Ryan, I need a new hairstylist.

Kristin Nilsen: Yes, totally.

Michelle Newman: I do think, too-

Kristin Nilsen: Okay, you just Hüsker Düed me.

Michelle Newman: Monchhichi. I need to post Monchhichi soon on social media. Thank you, Danielle. I do also think there’s a distinction. When you talk about the power of nostalgia and one thing that we have to sometimes make clear to our own listeners, but maybe people in our own families, is that this whole podcast and our whole community, our whole social media community, we’re not doing this because we all want to be 14 again or we all want to live in 1978 again or we all want to live in 1984 again. There’s a real distinction. A lot of people get confused when they see us getting so excited. My office right now, I have all my old Fisher Price around me. I have little toys. I have things that I found that I had in my childhood, all three of us do. We all have old lunchboxes or things that bring us joy.

Michelle Newman: It’s not because we want to play with those again, necessarily, or we want to be that little kid again, it’s because remembering those simpler times and just remembering the moments that we had with kissing the poster of Shaun Cassidy on our walls goodnight or playing with the Fisher Price castle or whatever, it just sparks so much joy in us, and that’s what our community tells us, and we get so many DMs and emails and thank yous, everything from an episode reminded us of someone they’ve just recently lost this past year, especially during COVID, we had a lot of those. “Thank you so much for the Barry Manilow episode. I sing Barry Manilow with my grandma all the time, and I just lost her, and this episode made me have such great… remember those times again.” So, you see, there’s a distinction of not wanting to live in that time, but just be reminded of how those things made us feel.

Kristin Nilsen: Mm-hmm. Reminders of our own purity, our own innocence.

Danielle Wiley: My sewing kit is in my old Caboodle.

Carolyn Cochrane: Oh, I love a Caboodle.

Kristin Nilsen: That’s really cute.

Carolyn Cochrane: Yes.

Kristin Nilsen: Took your hot rollers out, put your sewing kit it there.

Michelle Newman: But doesn’t make you… it just brings a smile to your face-

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, and it’s just like-

Michelle Newman: … when you see that Caboodle, I bet.

Danielle Wiley: … I love [inaudible 00:13:15]. And it’s turquoise and pink, of course, and yeah.

Carolyn Cochrane: Of course.

Kristin Nilsen: And you like that kid, right? It reminds me that that kid that I was when I was 12, I like her.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah.

Michelle Newman: I love that.

Danielle Wiley: You’re talking about starting to feel irrelevant and that’s a perfect segue to my next question. I mean, we’ve all seen the jokes about Gen X being forgotten and you’ll see some posts about generations and they go right from Boomer to Millennial and it’s obvious it’s a thing, but what the heck? Do you guys have a theory as to why?

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, I have feelings. Yeah.

Danielle Wiley: Why?

Carolyn Cochrane: Yes, Kristin has feelings.

Kristin Nilsen: I have big…

Michelle Newman: Kristin has big feelings.

Kristin Nilsen: … feelings about it. And I have this argument with my son all the time, because he’s like, “People don’t do that.” I’m like, “People do. My people do. Am I not people? Do I not count?” He has to be reminded that I, too, and my people are people. But we have to go back to the original name for our generation, we were the latchkey kids. Right? We were the first generation in which most of our mothers worked, and childcare wasn’t really a thing, so we got our keys and we wore them around our necks. We let ourselves in, we ate Cheetos, and we watched Mike Douglas, right? We were the first generation where half of us came from divorced households and were depending on just one parent, instead of two. Some of us felt abandoned by the other parent. Our parents were really focused on themselves, sometimes that was because of survival, sometimes that’s because they were from the me generation, even though they didn’t have to be hippies to be part of the me generation, that just seeped into the culture, right?

Kristin Nilsen: And even on a larger scale, we were the first generation not to revere or respect or feel taken care of by our elected leaders, because the very first person we remember is Richard Nixon. And so, for our parents that person would’ve been Kennedy or Eisenhower, these people are watching out for us. No, they’re not watching out for us, we’re on own. And then, as we grew up, we graduated from high school and we graduated from college in a recession. There were no jobs, there was nothing, and we didn’t look to our parents to be that safety net for us, we just took care of it on our own, and maybe we graduated and we took jobs that really didn’t live up to our dreams, because we needed to pay the bills. We had to be pragmatic, and that’s not sexy. And so, we get ignored in favor of the generations who had the luxury, it’s a luxury, to dream big. It really is. And, by the way, we latchkey kids grew up to be helicopter parents, so compensating much?

Danielle Wiley: I feel like I didn’t. My son just told me yesterday that he doesn’t feel like I was, because I-

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, good for you.

Danielle Wiley: He’s like, “I’m glad you worked. You weren’t always in my business.”

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah. It’s a good thing, it’s a good thing. We need to find that happy medium.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, yeah. I like that explanation. I mean, it definitely rings true. On this podcast, we talk a lot just about all areas of influence and we talk to influencers and influencer managers and people who exert their influence in other ways, liked we’ve talked to filmmakers and people who have started nonprofits. But it’s basically all about how influence surrounds us everywhere. So we obviously, thank god, didn’t have social media when we were-

Michelle Newman: Oh my gosh.

Danielle Wiley: … growing up, but who do you think our influencers were?

Michelle Newman: I mean, for sure, TV commercials and magazine ads. They were the original influencers, right? We were very influenced by magazine ads. For the three of us, it would’ve been maybe ads in Seventeen magazine for Esprit or Candie’s or Kissing Potion or Love’s Baby Soft. By the way, those ads, oh my gosh-

Kristin Nilsen: They’re very bad, very, very bad.

Michelle Newman: … shockingly terrible now. But we all get a big laugh out of them now, but so, so awful and inappropriate. Anyway, even celebrity magazines like Tiger Beat were influencing us. We’re looking to our celebrities much like kids are looking to the celebrities now to influence them, but we certainly were. They’re wearing cool clothes or whatever. But I think I’d also say places like the mall. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, we would go get dropped off at the mall for like-

Danielle Wiley: Hours.

Michelle Newman: … an entire weekend. Talk about being forgotten –

Danielle Wiley: Days. Ha Ha.

Michelle Newman: – “We’ll see you tomorrow night.” But we’d go to the mall and we wandered all day long in the mall and maybe we only had a five dollar bill with us, so what are we doing? We’re looking in the stores and we’re looking in the windows and we’re also looking at all the kids around us who also have gotten dropped off at the mall all day, and we’re also noticing about what they’re wearing, and what are they doing, and if they’re drinking an Orange Julius, I’m maybe feeling like, well, after three weekends of seeing everybody drink Orange Julius. I don’t like Orange Julius, but I’m going to go drink an Orange Julius. So I would also argue that maybe places. What do you guys think?

Carolyn Cochrane: Yeah, I think kind of to your point of watching what other people are doing, I can speak for myself that my peers, I just wanted to fit in so much in middle school and high school, so what they were wearing? Okay, those specific Adidas, those specific Levi’s cords, that kind of thing. So, for me, there was a lot of peer pressure, I guess, to wear the right thing, and that’s who really influenced my choices I think.

Kristin Nilsen: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Newman: Mm-hmm.

Danielle Wiley: It was a lot more work [inaudible 00:18:53]. I remember in high school, I grew up on Long Island, so it was all about going to the diner, and we had two diners in town and we’d go to one and see whose cars were in the parking lot, and then we’d go to the other one and see whose cars were in the parking lot, and then we’d go check the other one just to make sure no cute boys showed up. And we would just drive back and forth, and now you just pull up SnapChat maps or whatever and see where people… Right?

Carolyn Cochrane: Right, yeah.

Kristin Nilsen: God, seriously. And you might not even want to go to the place where they are. You might just meet in that digital space, where you had to go to the diner, so the diner was your place of influence, that’s where everything was happening. And I really miss magazines. I really, really do, for so many reasons. But when I was a kid, I had my closet doors were covered with things I had torn out of magazines. Some of those things were ads, some of those things might’ve been clothes, it might’ve been just somebody who I thought was cute, it might’ve been cosmetics, but that was how I thought I was decorating my room, but really it was a wall of influence.

Michelle Newman: Gosh, that’s a good point Kristin. Yeah, I would make those on my bulletin board where it could’ve been the girl with the Kissing Potion around her neck, but that was cut out and stuck on my bulletin board. But you’re right-

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, we all had collages, right?

Michelle Newman: … we were surrounded by influence. It was like a hard copy of Instagram on my wall, if you think about it.

Danielle Wiley: Who did you guys have on your wall? Because we all had people.

Kristin Nilsen: Carolyn’s is the best.

Carolyn Cochrane: Well, in terms of crushes, I had Jimmy McNichol posters all over my wall. Now, Jimmy McNichol was, is the brother of Kristy McNichol, but in my opinion he is a star in his own right. So above my headboard, in my bedroom in middle school were probably nine or 10 Jimmy McNichol posters, kind of in a semicircle over my head, and right in the middle was a crucifix. So I had Jimmy and Jesus looking out over me.

Danielle Wiley: Perfect.

Carolyn Cochrane: And we have proof of that. My mother actually took a picture of my once sleeping with that in the background and we’ve actually shared that on Instagram and stuff, because it reflects exactly what was influencing my life. Jesus and-

Michelle Newman: Well, and tell Danielle-

Kristin Nilsen: Jesus was the ultimate influencer.

Michelle Newman: … who else you got to share that with recently.

Carolyn Cochrane: Well, yes, so this podcast has brought us some amazing opportunities, and a couple of months ago we were asked to help emcee a celebrity, basically, teen idol dinner party in California, and Jimmy McNichol was one of the celebrity guests-

Danielle Wiley: Oh my goodness.

Carolyn Cochrane: … at the dinner party. We sat at Kristy McNichol’s table, but he was at the next table over and I got to introduce him, and I got to show him that photo and-

Kristin Nilsen: Jimmy and Jesus.

Carolyn Cochrane: … was then showing it around. It was just this full circle, surreal moment. I mean, to your point before Kristin, I mean, it’s my little self and my big lady self at the same moment having this weird, full circle opportunity to chat with this guy who I kissed every night before I went to bed, and that was really fun. That was really fun.

Danielle Wiley: What about you guys, Kristin and Michelle, who were on your walls?

Kristin Nilsen: Go ahead, Michelle.

Michelle Newman: Well, from 1978 to about 1981 it was all Scott Baio, that was it. I mean, basically, it was a Scott Baio wallpaper. And I also loved Kristy McNichol, so I had posters of her. Because your crushes evolve as you get older, right? So then, in about 1981, I didn’t like Scott Baio anymore, and then it moved into the Brat Pack and specifically Andrew McCarthy, but I do remember having a lot of things like Molly Ringwald posters. I can still picture the Seventeen magazine cover with Molly Ringwald on it. I probably had ripped that off and put it up. And then, in about 1983, it was all Duran Duran. It was Duran Duran and Simon Le Bon, because you know what? They were men. They were sexy, British men and about that time, I’m 14, and my crushes have evolved to where I need a man.

Kristin Nilsen: Not a boy.

Michelle Newman: Right?

Danielle Wiley: And Kristin, I’m going to let you go, but I have an Andrew McCarthy story, so he was on my wall, I loved him…

Michelle Newman: Yeah, same.

Danielle Wiley: … and we were going to Hawaii with my whole family a few years ago, actually about 10 years now, and we’re sitting waiting for changing planes in Dallas, and so we’re sitting at the gate in Dallas and he sat down right next to me.

Michelle Newman: Danielle, no.

Danielle Wiley: At the gate. So he’s like six inches from me on my left-

Kristin Nilsen: Oh my god.

Danielle Wiley: … and my daughter, who is 21 now, so she’s probably like 11 or 12 at the time, and she’s to my right, and I start hyperventilating and I turn to her and I say, “He was on my wall.” And she was like, “What?” I said, “He was on my wall.”

Kristin Nilsen: Oh my god.

Danielle Wiley: And she was like, “What are you talking about?”

Michelle Newman: I have goosebumps up the back of my skull right now, Danielle, imagining that moment for you. What did you do? Tell us, tell us. You got to-

Carolyn Cochrane: Yeah, what did you do?

Michelle Newman: You can’t leave us hanging.

Danielle Wiley: I did nothing. I was a chicken. I didn’t say anything to him, and he hasn’t aged super well. He has no butt at all.

Michelle Newman: Well-

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, sad.

Michelle Newman: … I don’t think he did then, either. I feel like he’s aged-

Danielle Wiley: Maybe not.

Michelle Newman: … kind of well, because I follow him on Instagram, and I think he looks pretty good, but I agree with you. I would’ve been so in that moment, “I’m going to say the wrong thing. You don’t want to seem fangirly, you don’t want to…” I would’ve just been like…

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, and he was traveling alone with his two kids. He was taking them to-

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, that’s hard.

Danielle Wiley: … Hawaii by himself, and they were… He just seemed like an exhausted dad.

Michelle Newman: Oh.

Danielle Wiley: It was a little too real.

Kristin Nilsen: That’s when you write him a note, “Check the box. Do you like me?”

Danielle Wiley: Do you love me?

Kristin Nilsen: I know.

Danielle Wiley: Or do you like like me?

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, do you like like like me?

Michelle Newman: Yeah, so you like like like me?

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah. Please check the box. I had the Shaun Cassidy poster that came in his first album, which had Da Do Ron Ron on it. And then, I had pages that I had torn out of Tiger Beat of all of the Bee Gees and they circled my bed. And then, I had the Andy Gibb Shadow Dancing poster, the one in the red silky shirt that is so sexy. And when my grandma walked in and saw it, she was like, “Oh, he sure likes his chest hair, doesn’t he?” And I was like, “Grandma, you know, I don’t hate it. I don’t hate the chest hair.”

Danielle Wiley: Too funny.

Kristin Nilsen: Because, I like you, Michelle, I was growing up. Shaun Cassidy, smooth chest. Then I grew up a little bit, chest hair.

Michelle Newman: Yes, see that makes sense.

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, mm-hmm.

Danielle Wiley: I mean, my daughter was totally baffled by this whole… she’s always loved Justin Bieber even now, so she’s definitely had obsessions, but it’s different. I remember I got her a full-sized cardboard cutout of him because I thought, I’m an ’80s kid, you need a picture of this… you love this guy, you must have him in your room, and she hated it. She thought it was creepy. She didn’t want it. We got rid of the Biebs.

Kristin Nilsen: Oh. Oh, that’s interesting.

Michelle Newman: Wow.

Kristin Nilsen: Oh my god. Well-

Danielle Wiley: But I’m just wondering, do you think that, because they’re interacting with them on this smaller screen and it’s just a very different… I feel like-

Kristin Nilsen: It’s so different.

Danielle Wiley: … the level of obsession is a lot different now than it was for us.

Kristin Nilsen: The phenomenon still exist, but the vehicles for getting there are so vastly changed. Just like you said, she can look at him every single day on her phone, so she’d be like, “Why do I need this cardboard thing?” It’s different. And I just watched the Pretty Baby documentary, the documentary about Brooke Shields, and she has a great quote that speaks to this. Somebody asked the question, “Why were you so popular?” And she was like, “There just weren’t that many people. Right? We had four TV stations, you can only get so many people on four TV stations, and so I just floated to the top.” Now, they have so many sources, and they’re coming at them from everywhere.

Michelle Newman: Everywhere.

Kristin Nilsen: They’re bombarded with information, and it’s all individualized. It’s all based on the algorithm, which means there’s less of a culture of collective crushing, which is kind of part of the fun of having a crush. I mean, we all had Donny and Marie. We all watched Donny and Marie together and would go to school the next day and say, “Did you like I’m a Little Bit Country, I’m a Little Bit Rock and Roll?” We all knew what we were talking about. Now, I think it might be a little bit lonely.

Danielle Wiley: There’s no events. I remember-

Kristin Nilsen: No.

Danielle Wiley: … when Sha Na Na was on The Muppet Show, that was the biggest night of my life, like, “Oh my god, Sha Na Na is on the… My worlds are colliding.”

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah!

Michelle Newman: Say you’re a Gen Xer, Danielle, without saying you’re a Gen Xer.

Carolyn Cochrane: We love it.

Kristin Nilsen: When Sha Na Na was on The Muppet Show.

Michelle Newman: I agree though, Kristin, to your point, it’s so true, because my younger daughter, who is about to be 22, I can’t keep up with how many obsessions she has, it’s everybody from people she’s crushing on to musical, but when I’ll say, “I have never heard of that person, where do you…” “Well, that person is famous because of TikTok, but this person’s a YouTuber, but this person’s on that show I watch on some streaming service, but this person’s on a show I watch on something online I’ve never even heard of.” So you’re so right, they’re getting these people that can admire and crush on from everywhere and we’re not sitting here saying it’s wrong, we’re saying it’s different. And then-

Danielle Wiley: Very different.

Michelle Newman: … but we can live in the fact that we think ours was better, but everybody can-

Kristin Nilsen: Well, Yeah..

Michelle Newman: … think that. Duh. But everybody can think that, but I would’ve been overwhelmed by that much gorgeous input and talented input coming in to me, right?

Kristin Nilsen: But how do you, how do, there are too many things to choose from, how do you even settle in one, it’s paralyzing. But the needs still remains, right? The need to have that first extremely safe relationship with someone who’s not going to break up with you, that’s a really good training ground for being in love, so I wonder if there’s going to be some fallout for our kids and the way they approach IRL relationships, because they’re not getting the same training that we did. I’m just curious.

Danielle Wiley: I wonder-

Kristin Nilsen: I’m just going to watch.

Danielle Wiley: … I see with my son, who’s 17, he was dating a girl last summer and I made the stupid mistake of calling her his girlfriend and I got a whole lecture about they’re not into labels, and it’s not… So I kind of feel like that’s the reaction, right? But there is so much out there, you can’t… it becomes impossible to label anything, because they’ve kind of been adrift, I guess.

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, who is your crush? Well, I don’t want to label it.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah. I mentioned the Nestle commercial that I’ve become newly obsessed with. Have you guys seen it recently?

Michelle Newman: Yeah. I think it was going around-

Kristin Nilsen: No, but you did totally Hüsker Dü me.

Michelle Newman: … Instagram like a week ago. Wasn’t it?

Danielle Wiley: It was going around Instagram and when people… what was it? Something about the ’80s being dramatic. I mean, it looks like a romance novel cover, the whole commercial. But, I mean, TV commercials, and you mentioned it before, it was such a huge part of our lives. Do you think brands have the same influence on us now that we’re not… I mean, now you’re interacting with Duolingo on TikTok, right?

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, that’s true.

Carolyn Cochrane: I don’t think it’s the brands that are influencing us as much as the people that are hawking the brands. So if Katie Couric has some great new moisturizer she’s using, I love Katie Couric, I might go check out that moisturizer or I did check it out and it’s on my nightstand.

Michelle Newman: Nightstand.

Carolyn Cochrane: Or Brooke Shields-

Kristin Nilsen: It’s on its way to my house.

Carolyn Cochrane: … has some wine or something that she’s promoting, so it’s now the… I guess and that’s maybe why they’re sometimes called influencers, but it’s these people I respect. And then, if they share a brand that they like, that’s where I’m more likely to be influenced versus… We just don’t even see the TV commercials as much anymore. There aren’t even TV commercials unless we watch network which… I don’t know.

Danielle Wiley: I think just for sports. I think the only time I see TV commercials now, it’s when I’m watching sports and it’s all-

Carolyn Cochrane: Sporting event. Right.

Danielle Wiley: … cars and insurance companies. I mean nothing… certainly not Nestle caliber.

Michelle Newman: There’s too many brands, though. There’s too many brands. Back when we were growing up, there just weren’t as many. I can maybe think of four different, maybe, brands of tennis shoes that I was choosing between when I’d go get my new school shoes. There’s just too many. And to what Carolyn said about Katie Couric, I mean, I can be looking for face cream and I can say that to somebody in my house, and then the next day I have 30 ads on my Instagram feed for all these face creams, right? And I don’t know which one to choose. They all sound good, but if Reese Witherspoon tells me she uses this one and I admire Reese Witherspoon and think, “Wow, she’s almost my age and her face looks really good,” I will go spend the money on Reese Witherspoon’s entire… which I have. It’s not her line, but it’s what she uses.

Michelle Newman: I think, to Carolyn’s point, now, especially for our age, we’re too inundated by the too many brands of everything. Shoes, clothes, handbags, nail polish, face creams, teeth whitener, under eye bags, eyelash serum. You’re welcome everyone right now, because everyone’s Instagram feeds are about to be inundated with-

Kristin Nilsen: I know, right?

Michelle Newman: … all those things I just said.

Danielle Wiley: I mean, for us, we had the Neutrogena bar or Noxzema. You had two-

Kristin Nilsen: That’s right.

Danielle Wiley: … choices to wash your face.

Michelle Newman: Exactly.

Kristin Nilsen: You had Sea Breeze and 10.0.6. Yeah.

Michelle Newman: So now I think, with our age mates, we’re almost too baffled by it, we just sort of pick someone that we’re like, “I know you. I really feel like I respect your opinion. Yes, you’re probably just getting paid a lot to do it, but I feel like you’re sincere and I trust you, so that’s what I’m going to do.” So that’s how we’re being influenced. It’s not as much, like Carolyn said, it’s not as much the brand, it’s the person.

Kristin Nilsen: And that makes brand loyalty kind of difficult, because that means if Reese comes on with something else, you’re going to start using that.

Michelle Newman: It’s possible.

Kristin Nilsen: You’re not loyal to the brand, you’re loyal to Reese.

Carolyn Cochrane: Mm-hmm.

Michelle Newman: It is possible. Yeah, I do love Reese.

Kristin Nilsen: Mm-hmm.

Danielle Wiley: I could talk to you guys forever, but I feel like I have to kind of-

Michelle Newman: We got to move on.

Danielle Wiley: We got to close it out at some point. So of all the podcast episodes that you guys have produced, what would you say is your… I’ll tell you my favorite of yours.

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, please do.

Danielle Wiley: I love the 1983 music episode.

Michelle Newman: Oh, we do, too. We love that one, too.

Danielle Wiley: I loved that. I was making dinner one night while listening to it, and had the best time, and then I listened to ’83 playlists the whole rest of the week.

Kristin Nilsen: Oh, that’s awesome.

Michelle Newman: That’s nice to hear. Thanks.

Carolyn Cochrane: That’s our hope.

Michelle Newman: We love the music ones, as well. Those are really fun for us to prep for.

Kristin Nilsen: The music ones are always our most popular ones, yeah. Of course, as you would imagine, it’s super, super hard to pick one or five or 10 that are our favorites, because we’ve had how many episodes, Michelle?

Michelle Newman: 115, I think by now. 115.

Kristin Nilsen: Yeah, it’s a lot.

Michelle Newman: We’re on 117 this week or something, yeah.

Kristin Nilsen: But we do all have ones that are more important to us than others. For me, if I had to choose a favorite, it would be our episode about Free to Be… You and Me, because-

Danielle Wiley: I love it.

Kristin Nilsen: I know. Look at your face, right? It dug up something that was so buried in so many people-

Danielle Wiley: Because that’s when we were really young. That’s-

Kristin Nilsen: Really little.

Danielle Wiley: … a younger memory, right?

Kristin Nilsen: Very little. And when it was unearthed, these people just exploded with joy, because they hadn’t thought of it for so long. And that conversation let us fangirl really hard about all the songs that we loved and we knew by heart, but it also let us pick apart each song and discover what incredible influence that whole album had on it. It actually had a purpose, and it helped us think about who we were and how we viewed our mothers and what we wanted to be when we grew up. And so, it was a joyful conversation, it was also a very serious conversation.

Carolyn Cochrane: Yeah, well I loved that episode, as well, Kristin. And my favorite would have to be probably a day in the life of a ’70s fifth grader that we did, because each of us described what a day would be like when we were in fifth grade and, personally, it was great to get to know a little bit more about my cohosts, but it was also really cool to kind of go back and relive a day in my fifth grade life and just remember what I was doing and how I felt and it, again, was like a touchstone of, “Oh my gosh, you turned out okay, little fifth grade Carolyn. It all is going to work out for you.”

Carolyn Cochrane: And really, we thought this was kind of going to be a lighthearted stroll down memory lane and it really got deep and meaningful, and we got a lot of responses from listeners about what that episode meant to them, and those are the kinds of things that are really special, especially the unexpected. Again, we thought it was going to be kind of fun and funny, and it was fun, but yet, it touched something in each of us, I think, and in our listeners that we didn’t expect, but that was beautiful. So that’s why that’s one of my favorite episodes.

Michelle Newman: Yeah, that one took a real surprisingly poignant and emotional turn for the three for us. Yeah, it did become a little bit like therapy. I really love the two-part episode we did about a year ago on the Carpenters and I’ve always loved the Carpenters, all three of us have, so we came to these episodes as huge fangirls, right? But I was just really proud of how we honored both their story, even the messy parts of their story, and their music, and our love for both. So our first episode is really their story, and we touch on all of it, and we treat it with a lot of respect, we treat it with a lot of love and care, and it’s fun and funny. I love it. And then, part two of our Carpenters episodes is just basically a playlist of our favorite Carpenters’ songs, the story behind them, why we love them. So that one was just so much fun, too.

Michelle Newman: And I think we do that a lot on the podcast, is the we’ll take a topic, any topic, it could be Battle of the Network Stars or afterschool specials, and it’s not just, “This is what we loved about it. Isn’t it fun?” We always have connections to our own child selves, which lets the listener connect those things to their child selves. But also, we do a lot of research because we’re all writers, right? And also we all have degrees in education in some way, so we love to do research. So we also like to inform and we like to learn new things about the topic that we’re discussing, so our listeners really do enjoy that all of our episodes are fun, funny, but they also are a little bit educational.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, great. So this season, and one of the reasons I reached out to you guys, it’s season three and it’s all women who are 50 plus, because I’m turning 50 this year, so it seemed like a good way to celebrate it and I’m actually very excited about it. But we like to ask all of our guests the same closing question, so for this season the question we’re asking is what woman had the most influence on you in your life?

Carolyn Cochrane: Well, I’m going to answer first and I’m going to say the answer that probably a lot of people are going to say, but I maybe wouldn’t have answered this the same way a few years ago, but it is my mom. And I think because of this podcast, I’ve had the opportunity again, like I’ve said throughout this episode, to go back and revisit moments and memories from my childhood and all of a sudden, that mom that I thought was maybe being really mean, was really standing up for herself. I was maybe embarrassed by her when I was 11 years old, but now I look back and I think those moments stuck with me as I became an adult.

Carolyn Cochrane: And it’s been really fun, our relationship has just really blossomed because of this podcast, because I’ll check in with her about a memory or I’ll call her and apologize for something I might’ve done or said. And she is 82 right now and probably the biggest influence that she’s ever had on me, she’s having right now, because this woman recently left the Catholic Church. I just want you to know, she’d been Catholic for her whole life, it just wasn’t what she wanted. She was willing… and this would’ve never happened before, but she was willing to look at something new, do some research, be open to new ideas, and she’s 82.

Carolyn Cochrane: And I’m thinking, “Oh, it means you’re not stuck in your ways. You can still learn. You can still make this major life change. It’s never too late,” and I respect her so much because of that. And obviously, she influenced me a lot during my childhood, but it’s almost now that I am seeing her as this adult woman who just never stops growing, I guess is what I’d like to say about her, so it’s been a special-

Michelle Newman: Evolving, yeah. She’s still evolving, right?

Carolyn Cochrane: Yeah, she still is.

Danielle Wiley: Love it.

Carolyn Cochrane: So that’s who I would say, my mother.

Michelle Newman: Danielle, we have three wildly different answers here, so I’m going to follow up-

Kristin Nilsen: Very different, very different.

Michelle Newman: … Carolyn’s very sweet tribute-

Danielle Wiley: Well, good. That’s what makes it-

Michelle Newman: … to her mother-

Danielle Wiley: … good.

Michelle Newman: … by telling you that for most of my adolescence, I wanted to be Mary Hart. Now, Mary Hart was the… well, she was Regis Philbin’s first cohost in 1981, but then she went on to cohost Entertainment Tonight for like, what? 185 years. I think I started the John Tesh years with her. But Entertainment Tonight, that was my dream to be Mary Hart, and I just felt like that was the best job, she talked about pop culture, she got to talk to celebrities, she got to talk about celebrities, about pop culture. That was a show that was on my TV every night, just on while I’m making dinner, all the way through when I was a young mother, basically. And what are the odds that after I turned 50, and we started this podcast, I am, in a way, Mary Hart. Right?

Michelle Newman: We’re talking to celebrities on our podcast. I’m having dinner with Kristy McNichol. I’m talking to Christopher Atkins on the podcast. We’re talking about pop culture. I have cohosts. They’re my John Tesh and my Mark Steines and my Bob Goen. I just feel like that is something that just makes me… I’m just in shock that I finally, after 50… Like Carolyn said way back at the beginning, you know what ladies, life can begin. You just never know what you can do after 50. I mean, I was 51 when I met these three, so we’re… All of this happened after 50 for us, the friendship, the podcast, all of it. So it’s just crazy, so yeah, don’t go to sleep, everyone.

Kristin Nilsen: I kind of feel like life begins after 50 for women.

Danielle Wiley: Yeah, I’m starting to realize that.

Kristin Nilsen: And we’re inviting you in. Come on in.

Michelle Newman: Come to the dark side.

Kristin Nilsen: It’s really fun on this side. So I know when you ask this question you’re probably thinking… you mean a real woman, like what real woman influenced us, but the truth is, we got a lot of guidance from our pop culture icons, too. And I am in no way, I can’t emphasize this enough, I am in no way a Star Wars person. I don’t even know the names of the movies that came after Star Wars, but Princess Leia will bring me to tears. She was the only woman in that movie. I’m sitting in the theater watching it in 1977, like the whole world, just sort of in awe of what I was watching, and she’s the only girl on the screen. And she was both a princess and a badass, even though George Lucas wouldn’t let her wear underwear, but still.

Kristin Nilsen: And the last movie Carrie Fisher was in before she died, and again, I don’t know the name of it, because I’m not a Star Wars person, when she comes on the screen as the 55-year-old General Leia Organa, I start blubbering like a baby. And she looked 55, which I really appreciated. That just made my heart explode, that they didn’t think that they somehow had to clean her up to be presentable to be in a movie. It’s just her whole role, being a princess to a general, that she has this lifespan, she’s really the sole woman until we got the other girl. I’m sorry, I don’t know, because I’m not a Star Wars person. It’s just very meaningful to me. Well, you can see right here, right? Her image to me is iconic.

Danielle Wiley: Love it, love it. Well, this was everything I expected and more, and I thank you guys, again, so much for coming on, this was delightful.

Michelle Newman: Thank you.

Kristin Nilsen: Thank you.

Michelle Newman: Thank you so much.

Danielle Wiley: So, thank you.

Kristin Nilsen: Thank you for having us.

Michelle Newman: Yeah, this was a blast.

Danielle Wiley: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. Please check back next Monday for a new episode featuring marketing conversations through the lens of influence. I am your host, Danielle Wiley, and this is The Art of Sway.