Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast

The Howard Stern of Scuba: Greg Holt, Founder and Host of Scuba Radio, on making waves in the dive community and meaningful connections underwater

November 12, 2019 Hosts Jason Elias and Paul Kelway Season 1 Episode 6
Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast
The Howard Stern of Scuba: Greg Holt, Founder and Host of Scuba Radio, on making waves in the dive community and meaningful connections underwater
Chapters
Big Deep - An Ocean Podcast
The Howard Stern of Scuba: Greg Holt, Founder and Host of Scuba Radio, on making waves in the dive community and meaningful connections underwater
Nov 12, 2019 Season 1 Episode 6
Hosts Jason Elias and Paul Kelway

Greg Holt, Host of Scuba Radio, the world's longest running and most popular radio show for divers

Show Notes Transcript

Greg Holt, Host of Scuba Radio, the world's longest running and most popular radio show for divers

Hosts:

Hello and welcome to the Big Deep podcast. Big Deep is a podcast about people who have a connection to the ocean, people for whom that connection is so strong, it defined some aspect of their life. Over the course of the series, we'll talk to all sorts of people, and in each episode we'll explore the deeper meaning of that connection. In this episode we speak with the host of the world's longest running scuba radio show and discuss the time he connected with an ocean reef in a way he never imagined possible. Hello, this is Paul Kelway and I'm Jason Elias. Welcome to the Big Deep podcast .

Jason Elias:

I first met Greg Holt while doing research for this podcast. Greg was the founder and host of ScubaRadio, the world's first and only radio show dedicated to scuba diving. Being a startup ourselves and reaching out to someone very well established in the media world I wasn't sure how Greg would react, but he couldn't have been more open or supportive of what we were doing and we quickly struck up a lasting friendship. I really wanted to do an interview with Greg, but was curious how it would go as scuba radio has a pretty raucous talk radio format with a cast of characters that are always joking around...something a bit different than we were doing with our podcast. And yet when we finally sat down for our interview, Greg showed a very different side of himself speaking openheartedly of his deep connection to the ocean, how he now thought of himself as its advocate and even have a specific dive he took where he connected with the coral reef in a very surprising way.

Greg Holt:

Yeah, my connection to the ocean evolved. I grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, not necessarily surrounded by the oceans. However, when I was a kid I was watching discovery channel and the Abyss and I just thought that looked like the coolest place on the planet to be. And at some point I'm thinking, I got to figure you're out a way to get there. On summer vacations, we'd always drive down to Florida and camp for a week and we just snorkeled a little bit. That was also the time of the Jaws movie. So that kind of kept me out of the ocean in those early days. But I still loved the place. I loved the beach. They definitely planted a seed. When we started the radio show, I was working at a sports station in Orlando and I went into the boss's office and I said, you know, this sucks. We could golf free at any course in Orlando and I don't golf. And I said, wouldn't it be great if we could dive for free? And he goes, well, let's do a dive show. So that was how the show started. It was an excuse to go dive in on company time. So when we put it on the air, the reaction was phenomenal. I mean the divers coming out of the woodwork and quickly realized we had tapped into something much bigger than our goofy little excuse to go diving on company time. And early on we were called a watered down version of Howard Stern. I was like, Oh my God, you're comparing us to Howard Stern. That is the best compliment I could ever think of. Thank you so much. And a lot of people listening. Might think, they're like, ah , they suck. But uh , you know, I , I do try to make it as appealing and listenable for folks. The one thing that I do find myself right now reflecting on the fact that we have been doing this for over 20 years, that's just unheard of in radio, but here we are, you know, makes you feel that much more grateful. You know what I mean?

Jason Elias:

So can you kind of go back to the beginning and tell me what your experience of learning to dive the first time was like,

Greg Holt:

My first few dives were really rough. There wasn't like those Discovery Channel moments when you're in crystal clear blue water. I was in murky cold water, freezing my butt off. I mean, it was pretty miserable actually. But about 10 dives in, I had that hallelujah moment and I was like, Oh my gosh, I'm there. This is what it's all about. Up to that point as most beginning scuba divers encounter, you're so enthralled about staying alive. You're , you're focused on your equipment. You're thinking about sharks and all these things that you grew up watching. You know, jaws movies, and you know, I was like everybody else, I was scared to death. But when you learn how to dive, you realize that the animals aren't there to eat you. They're not waiting there with their mouths agape as you jump off a dive boat just, and that's not reality whatsoever. You kind of have to get comfortable enough with the equipment stuff, relax your breathing. And I took a few dives to get comfortable and to get to that moment of good visibility, good conditions, and feeling comfortable in my scuba diving skin. And it was the feeling and the look where my eyes literally opened and I saw everything around me and I'm like, Oh my gosh, it's all blue around me. There's sharks over here. There's a reef here, there's other divers. Oh my gosh, this is amazing. I'll never forget it. It was just magical.

Jason Elias:

What's interesting about that hallelujah moment is that it's about a personal connection. Yes, there were things happening in the ocean that you were experiencing, but really the reason it made such an impact on you is because you had some sort of deeper connection to what you were experiencing.

Greg Holt:

It definitely is a special moment where you have that feeling that you just are so blessed that you're here and yeah, it is kind of a spiritual thing in a way, I guess, but it continues to happen. I'll be down on a dive and I'll be in a moment where, you know, maybe I'm away from the group and I'll just look out over a wall. Then I'll just go, Oh my God, this is so amazing that I'm here and I'm witnessing this. It's magical. It really is something, and you know, you're witnessing something that most people don't get to do. The connection to the ocean for me is multifaceted. I love the environment. I love the sense of adventure, the spirituality part of it. For me, over the years, I've lost a few of my diving friends. Honestly, I , when I go under water, I kind of feel connected to them . I always had those moments where I was like, yeah, I see you're right there, diving next to me. Call them ghosts, call them angels. But yeah, I kind of feel that a little bit. Sure. I host a radio show. When things shut down underwater It's kind of an interesting environment for me because you lose your sound. So it's like a Zen kind of place you can go to when you shut the world out and can get away and, and it makes you think, that maybe a friend's gone by that left too soon and they used to dive with, there's a element of that that connects me to the ocean as well because we laid their ashes to rest in the ocean sometimes. I kind of feel that

Jason Elias:

You said it's also kind of changed your relationship to the environment itself. You , you mentioned something about you feel like almost becoming an ambassador for the environment. What does that mean?

Greg Holt:

I think most divers, if you do it long enough, you will evolve into an ambassador for the environment. You're in a position where you see things that most people just don't get to witness. At some point, it may take a few dives, it may take going into a few different places. You're going to get to the level where you're going to go, wow, Oh, it's really great here, but man, I saw some garbage over here or this brief wasn't as in good shape. And it's hard not to want to inform folks that don't have that opportunity what's going on underwater. As far as the radio show that we do Scuba Radio, we, I feel obligated that one of the things we have to do with the show, as much fun as it is and as silly as we are, there is an element of it that I need to use the platform that we've been given to promote situations and things that are hurting the environment underwater and let people know how they can get involved to stop some of it, I just feel obligated. I've been given a unique platform and in this regard to host a radio show about diving. I'm going to use it as much as I can to continue the activity for folks in the future so they get to see just as much cool things as I've been able to witness over the years.

Jason Elias:

Yeah. For me that's a big one as well. It this podcast is a lot about helping people understand that there are people out there who are deeply to that ocean environment and that it means a lot to them.

Greg Holt:

I do think there's a balance that you have to walk a fine line between informing folks about what's going on in the water and preaching turn into preaching . They have a tendency to turn it off. That's why with our show we do have a tendency to kind of joke around a lot talking about the social aspects of it, but there still is always an underlying element to it. They're picking up little nuggets of information, whether it's about diving or in the environment or you could see this or you need to do this to tell protect it. I kind of slip it in there. I try to do it. It's very purposeful in that regard. Sometimes you to listen to it and you'd think, these guys are a bunch of idiots. However, there is a method to the madness and that is just kind of suck them in with the fun and then inject them with a little information that they might find useful or just might educate them just enough to want to get out there and become involved, become divers, and then maybe evolve into ambassadors themselves.

Jason Elias:

You've talked about your deep connection to the ocean and what that connection has meant to you. Is there one story in particular that might highlight a sense of that connection?

Greg Holt:

One I would say was in Grenada and I actually got checked out on rebreathers. Scuba diving is one thing. It shuts out all the sound, but when you get out on a rebreather and you have no bubbles, now you're really doing some silent diving. It is phenomenal because all you hear is your breath and your heartbeat. I mean, it is remarkable how what you hear and then you start hearing the reef come alive. You actually hear the crackling, the fish nibbling on the reef. I'll never forget it and we did our first big long checkout dive. We got down underwater and we had no bubbles. It's very quiet. It's just us three in a team and we started swimming around. You know, it's one thing to get into that Zen moment when you're scuba diving, but when you're on a rebreather and it's super quiet and you're down for so long, after about a half hour, you just kind of go into the zone and you just start to become one with the reef. All the fish aren't afraid of you because the bubbles on open circuit scuba scare all the Marine life away. On rebreather you don't have that. They look at you as just some other big fish in the sea and start swimming to you. And I'll never forget about halfway through the dive . We're going from one site to another, like from a wreck dive to a wall, and then we make our way up to this reef and we were so much in the zone. All three of us did this. We didn't plan it, we didn't say anything, we didn't signal to each other. We got up to the edge of the reef and we all just kneeled down in the sand right before the edge of the reef. And we're sitting there observing on our knees watching. And all of a sudden all the reef fish that we were looking at migrated over to us and started inhabiting us like we were a new reef structure. I mean, the fun little fish were swimming up to my mask. There's no other way to describe it. It was. It was magical.

Paul Kelway:

Finally, we end every interview and every episode by asking a single open ended question of everyone we talked with. What does the ocean mean to you?

Greg Holt:

When I jump into the ocean and go diving, there's a feeling you get that you just feel connected to it. You get down under water and you see this and you're like, Oh my gosh, it'll change your life. I don't know . There's something about the ocean that you just feel at home and it definitely feels like home to me.

Hosts:

Thank you for listening to the big deep podcast. Next time on Big Deep... "I really felt like these whales have seen into my physical body and beyond my physical body and I kept thinking, what are they finding?" We really appreciate you being with us on this journey into the big deep as we explore an ocean of stories. If you like what we doing, please make sure to subscribe, like and comment on our show in iTunes, overcast, SoundCloud, or wherever you catch your podcasts. But those subscribes and links really make a difference for more interviews, deeper discussions with our guests, photos and updates on anything you've heard. There's a lot more content at our website, bigdeep.com. Plus, if you know someone you think we should talk to, just let us know at the big deep w ebsite as we a re always looking to hear more stories from interesting people who are deeply connected to our world's oceans. Thanks again for joining us.