Andy Steinhauser is currently based in Los Angeles and, among other things, is the host of LA Talk Radio’s “The Story With Andy Steinhauser.” Originally from Columbus, Georgia, he received his B.A. in Corporate Communications from the College of Charleston in 2002 and then turned what was supposed to be a brief stint with the cruise lines into a career as an executive. We are very fortunate that Andy turned his attentions to the entertainment industry. Tristan was a guest on Andy's show in March of this year, and we have since become big fans. He graciously agreed to talk with us about his career, his show, and yes, his opinion of the MacManiacs.
(This interview is also posted on our forum, MacManiaLand, as well as on our Special Features - Spotlight page. Feel free to leave comments for Andy below or within our forum).
Since graduating with a degree in Corporate Communications from the College of Charleston your career has taken you on a very diverse path including several years with the cruise lines. Please share some of that with us, how you started, how long it took you to work your way up to Cruise Director, and what made you decide to branch out into a new field.
My cruise ship career was a 5 month adventure turned into a full blown executive level career. I had no idea when I started back in 2003 what would eventually unfold. Being a Cruise Director was at that time a seemingly far-fetched idea, however, as I grew up and continued to work hard, it all the sudden became a possibility. Well, that spurred my already high work ethic and then it became an obsession and through a lot of hard work an eventual reality. Making people happy for a living actually comes with a good amount of pressure, but I loved every second of it. Also one of the most satisfying aspects of the job was creating original programming, theme parties, game shows, videos - you name it - we were basically a production company. More than just getting to create was the instant satisfaction of seeing these wild ideas and concepts turn into joyful events for our guests. I also got to work so closely with so many people from all over the world, and seeing my staff grow up and become such pros was a feeling I can only imagine a parent can relate to. As amazing an experience as that journey was, eventually I really started to feel that there was a larger scope and calling for me, so I made the tough decision to walk away at the peak of my career and just go for it and move to LA. While I was very passionate about my Cruise Director job, I had accomplished all my goals and I just felt the need to go for something bigger, expand my reach and see what was possible. After all I’ve risen to the top once before who’s to say I can’t do it again?
In your years in the cruise industry, you no doubt faced many challenges. If we put you on the spot and asked you for one particularly challenging moment, what would it be?
Oh, so many!!! One experience I’ll never forget is a 3 day cruise that was the biggest disaster. We had a terrible storm and missed both ports. Basically, we took guests into a storm and drove them back. No matter how entertaining your onboard programming is, nothing can recover you from that. Needless to say the guests were furious the entire time. However I try to learn from those experiences and I think it’s times like those that taught me to be more understanding of employees and business challenges. It also taught me to always take a moment and think about being in their shoes. Working so long in the hospitality industry has made me a very understanding and patient person and I’m forever thankful for that.
As host of The Story With Andy Steinhauser, you have interviewed many people in the entertainment industry. Do you have a favorite interview or interview subject? Thinking back to those people (or anyone else you have met in the entertainment industry) who would you most like to sit down to dinner with, talking further for a few hours?
Great question! I’m by nature a very curious person and I love hearing everyone’s story. Even when I was a bartender I used to basically interview every guest that sat at the bar, haha! My radio show has most of all inspired me to believe in myself and know that with determination and perseverance anything is possible. The underlying theme of every episode seems to be a lot of hard work will always get you where you want to go. I’ve always believed that and operated under that principle but it’s so re-assuring having that theory confirmed by so many people I admire. As far as a favorite, that’s like asking which is your favorite child. My ADD and ever evolving interests inspired me to create a show that would allow me to interview not just celebrities, but entrepreneurs, business owners, you name it. I’m fascinated by all the various subjects and I would love to carry on the conversation with all my guests. I know that’s not a direct answer but it’s the truth.
Going back over your list of guests on TSWAS, Anna Trebunskaya, one of our favorite Dancing With the Stars pros and Ballroom With A Twist performers, was on your show back in May, 2013. What impressed you most about Anna?
I love Anna. She’s so determined, talented and humble. I think what impressed me most about her was that she kept constantly crediting any success she achieved on being prepared for whatever opportunities came her way through hard work and preparation. I also admire that even though she’s so accomplished, she’s already planning the next chapter with developing her acting skills. However she didn’t even realize she was pregnant when we did our interview, so now it’ll just be a slightly different version of the journey, but I love seeing her flourishing and loving being a mother and knowing her I know the next great adventure is just around the corner.
For those who might not be familiar with TSWAS, would you please share a little bit about how it originated, how you developed the show, how you decide on your guests, etc.
I knew I wanted to do an interview show of some sort. I’m inspired by people’s journey and have grown really tired of the standard “celebrity interview”: Who are you dating, what are you wearing, blah, blah, blah and oh yea, tell me two seconds about your movie. I’m not sure about you, but that format to me seems completely backwards and borderline insulting to all the artists and team members who work so hard to create entertainment. I wanted a show that would let people tell their stories in their own words, unedited and really give people a chance to get to know what makes them tick and more importantly WHY they have chosen to do what they do. That to me is the interesting part of getting to know someone who’s work you admire. I thought about just doing a podcast and putting it out myself but then I stumbled upon LA Talk Radio and their format was exactly what I was looking for and it just worked out. I love long form interviews and hope to continue doing them throughout my career in some form. In regards to my guests, I seek out celebrities, interesting people, business, and charities, really anyone that’s accomplished something that I feel others would love to hear more about. I find my guests in all different ways. Referrals and connections are probably most common, some come to me, others I seek out. I work with a producer to help filter my ideas and assist in booking. What’s been most inspiring to me is everyone I’ve ever interviewed has had an enjoyable experience and their fans and friends have seemed to back my theory that the general public is much more intelligent than traditional media gives them credit for. All the various artists and entrepreneurs have been very appreciative of being able to communicate with a large audience in this type of format.
After listening to your show the last few weeks and going back and listening to previous episodes, we noticed that you are incredibly well-prepared for each show. What kind of preparation is involved? Do you have a time estimate on prep time each week?
Well thank you! I actually put a lot of prep into each show. I basically become an internet stalker on whoever I’m interviewing and pull out all the information I can on them and from that I format the interview to a nice flow to make sure we cover the most important topics. Then I have a brief 15-20 minute pre-interview with the guest on the day of or right before where I review what I’ve found and want to discuss, but I also do this so I ensure I cover anything the guest wants promoted. Whether be it a charity, future project, shout out to the fans, etc. I want to make sure the guest gets a chance to share what they feel is important. All in all I spend about 5 hours of prep for each interview. I must give credit to my amazing host coach (former MTV VJ iDalis DeLeon) - she’s fully schooled me in the “art of the interview” so many of the tactics I apply are directly from her.
Obviously you find it easy to talk to people but was there ever a time when you didn’t?
Haha, actually no. I’ve always been quite a talker, when I was in 4th grade I got my desk moved to a special island so I couldn’t talk to anyone around me and stay more focused. I guess it’s just born in me. I like to say I was born with a microphone in my throat.
With live shows, you have to expect the unexpected. Has anyone ever said something so surprising that you weren’t quite sure how to respond?
All the time, but I love those moments. I structure my interview so I’m ready to take it wherever it needs to go, when a guest drops a surprise I always run with that. You can only hope those moments happen. Now when people are quiet and offer a short non-opened response, that’s the real challenge. Luckily I always prepare some back up questions.
In your recent show which featured Tristan MacManus as your guest, you picked up a lot of new loyal listeners – not just because of Tristan being your guest but because of the casual format which made it seem like two old friends chatting. We do admit to loving that particular show, and we apologize for blowing up your Twitter – although we can’t promise that we won’t do it again. How about those MacManiacs?
I want to go on record and state (again) how amazing Tristan’s fans are! Also you are always welcome and encouraged to tweet away with me. What I love so much about Tristan’s fans is that they are just plain good people. I feel like a great community developed out of support for someone that a lot of people believed in and that is truly beautiful. You can see right away how humbled, appreciative and aware of this Tristan is. It also feels like the MacManiacs are not just here as fans, they are supporters of: art, culture, good positive people, living with passion and purpose, and they seek to stay connected to that. I have great instincts and I truly feel that something bigger will develop from this amazing community. So I can only hope that the community continues to evolve and support each other because when great people come together anything is possible.
Tell us your impressions of Tristan. Had you met him prior to your show?
Tristan and I have a mutual friend, SYTYCD Season 5 dancer Randi Strong. Randi is one of my closest friends and she performs with Tristan in BWAT. She recommended I profile him as I mentioned to her that Anna’s fans were hoping I get another DWTS pro on, and the timing worked out great with the Season 18 launch. Randi had told me how amazing Tristan is and everyone I met that knew him had all told me the same thing - nicest guy, fantastic, etc. So I had a positive impression going in and high expectations based what I had known. However, Tristan exceeded those high expectations right away. I had no idea just how cool he was. I mean he is seriously one of the nicest guys in Hollywood, and people would be surprised to know there are actually a lot of nice people here in LA. However with Tristan, maybe because he’s Irish, but there is just this quality that he has that lets you know there is zero BS ever coming out of his mouth. He is just so honest and I totally get and support the fandom, because I want people to get behind and support good people and Tristan and his wife are honestly just great people.
On March 25, 2014, Tahyna Tozzi-MacManus, Kai Lillie, and Tabrett Bethell were your guests as they discussed the OREN film and the Kickstarter campaign . That was a fascinating hour, and as we listened, it was easy to see that the conversation could easily have continued another hour or more. What about their work most impressed/fascinated you?
I was so impressed by that whole group. They are very established and there are much easier ways to go about your life in LA when you are at their level, but they just seriously want to make great art. I think I loved most that they just wanted to create great work. I fully realize and support that what we do here in LA is first and foremost a business, but I love being able to lend a voice to real artists, who do this not just for money, but also for something more. I truly hope to be at this level of success in the very near future and I intend to do just what they do. Make great content, support a bigger cause and purpose and do work that I feel contributes somehow to a greater good. I can’t wait to see what they produce, as I know this project will be realized and from there very exciting things will continue to happen.
A few months ago we asked Tristan to describe the MacManiacs in five words. Now we’ll ask you to do the same.
Supportive, Caring, Creative, Passionate, & Smart
Now for a fun twist. Think of a question or two that you would like to ask us – Tristan’s supporters. We’ll post all the answers as they come in.
If you were a famous and or influential person, what would you want the masses to hear more about? It could be art, charity, a cause, etc. - I want to know what people are passionate enough about to speak out on.
***Please send us your answer to Andy’s question – either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), Twitter (https://twitter.com/T_MacManusFocus) or by posting it on Andy’s thread on the forum or just below in the "comments" section.
For more on Andy:
LA Talk Radio: http://latalkradio.com and http://latalkradio.com/Andy.php
Feature on Andy from The College of Charleston Magazine: