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The Story Behind The Storyline Podcast

After leaving a management position (due to health) with a local television news station, I began thinking about my passions. Two of these passions are my voice work and documentary work. The other passion is a fascination with stories of the fire service.

In the fall of 2019, I knocked on the door of a retired firefighter I knew, Lt. Jim Cunningham. He and his wife graciously invited me in. As Jim began to talk with me about his long career with the Memphis Fire Department, I thought "I need to record this." His stories and perspective were riveting. I left his home with a renewed purpose for my passion to tell the stories of the fire service. With a little encouragement from my wife and my firefighter son, I was "off to the races."

After working in television and radio for almost 4 decades, creating something with audio and video would be as natural to me as brushing my teeth. I wanted to tell the stories of what I had experienced or heard through the years from many first responder friends like Jim Cunningham. I wanted to talk about issues and current events that effect the fire service.

Why not a podcast? But what is a podcast? A young friend explained- "It's a 'radio talk show' that's not on the radio. Some podcasts are audio, some are video, and some are both". That seemed simple enough to me. I'd had some podcast experience --as the intro/outro voice for a podcast in Australia. So, I thought of taking my former brand (that I had started in 1993), "EMERGENCY FD," combining it with the name of my "idea testing" website,, and adding another word that defines its' purpose. So, my podcast, "EmergencyFD Storyline " or " Storyline" was born.

As 2019 closed and work on my "audio/video" studio began, I finalized my plans for a podcast format. In early January 2020 while visiting in Memphis, I made a few last minute phone calls to record some interviews . To my surprise, I had 3 takers: a former firefighter whom I had previously met on the scene of a tragic car fire, Inspector Todd Conklin; former Fire Director, Charles E. Smith; and the current Fire Director, Gina Sweat. I recorded Inspector Todd Conklin and Charley Smith in my hotel room. I recorded the interview with Gina Sweat at fire headquarters. Talk about hitting the jackpot, all three interviews were great! I knew I could be up and running by the middle of February, 2020. Yeah, right! COVID-19 shut down everything, even my business. I had to delay my podcast plans.

By March or April of 2020, I knew COVID had to be a part of the story. I began making phone calls. Not having an up and running podcast, to my surprise, in no time I had 3 COVID interviews scheduled. About the same time the first two podcasts launched, my podcasts were listed on many podcast directories/ podcast networks such as Apple podcast, Spotify, and iHeart Radio.

My first podcast with COVID-19 as the main subject, officially launched on April 23, 2020. For one of the COVID podcasts I even had the opportunity to interview my son, a Memphis firefighter who'd contracted COVID-19 on the job.

Later, I was able to publish the first 3 interviews that had been recorded in January.

From the start, I've had some amazing guests--from the U.S. to Australia.

And I've only just begun. Whether you are in the fire service or wanted to know what it's like to be in the fire service, you'll enjoy the stories presented on EmergencyFD Storyline. Give us a listen, a "like," and a "subscribe." There are more powerful stories and informative conversations on the way.

-Tom Mann

Executive Producer/Podcast Host

Some answers to questions that many ask Tom Mann:

What is your background? I am a broadcaster with nearly 4 decades of experience in radio and television. I have worked on the air and in the creative production of audio and video programming. I've produced documentaries, commercial spots, promos, corporate videos, etc. for business, government, local radio/tv, and networks. I am a professional voice talent. My voice has been heard on television and radio networks around the world, local radio stations, and as the voice for news stations opens-closes-promos. I have many years of experience working with the fire service as a documentarian and independent contributor to fire/ems training networks. With my years of experience, I consult, train, and speak to agencies about the media and how to message in a social media age.

Why so many interviews from the Memphis Area? I spent 10 years of my life documenting and recording the work of the Memphis Fire Department. I made many friends during that time. I experienced what they experienced. I was there and I know many of their stories. Now, my son is a firefighter in Memphis. We are expanding with more interviews from other regions. No matter where you live, email your story ideas to

Who funds EmergencyFD Storyline? That is an easy answer. Me, myself, and I (Tom Mann). As the audience grows, I hope to have sponsors or some kind of sustainable revenue stream . At the moment, you can help. There is a donate tab on our website at You can give any amount from $5 to $100. What you give helps with the podcast production fees, equipment costs and travel expenses associated with in person interviews.

What is the goal for the EmergencyFD Storyline Podcast? The goal is to tell the stories of those in the fire service and to highlight what matters to the members of the fire service. EmergencyFD is independent, devoid of politics, and brings a positive message, while dealing with the tough realities of the job. Our listeners are not only fire service members, but anyone who appreciates the work of our modern day heroes.

How can I hear the EmergencyFD Storyline Podcast? EmergencyFD Storyline is found on almost all podcast directories/networks, and on our website at Here are some links:





Amazon Music:




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