Like many young men with a gregarious personality, Zach Rollins decided to start a podcast. But “Captain Zach,” as he’s known, didn’t want to talk about movies or true crime. He wanted to talk about the “blue economy” – people who make a living by the water.
“I love the ocean, and I know a lot of other people enjoy it as well,” says Rollins. “But they don’t necessarily have the opportunity that I do to work and live by it and enjoy it. So how can we kind of bring that to them, in a show that not only spotlights people who are doing something similar to what I was doing, but doing it in an innovative way?”
Rollins grew up in Wickford and graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Marine Affairs, and he’s held numerous nautical jobs since he was a kid. Last year, Rollins moved to Hawaii, where he served as lead captain for Kona Snorkel Trips. But after seven months on the Big Island, Rollins had to reckon with the coronavirus pandemic – and he made the decision to move back home.
But not before he started his new podcast, Beyond the Buoy. The podcast premiered in late February, and Rollins has produced nearly a dozen episodes since. His subjects are wide ranging, such as oyster farming, boat-building, doormats made from discarded lobster rope, and eco-friendly surfboard wax. Rollins interviews guests himself, focusing mostly on entrepreneurship and green innovation.
“There are so many ways to give back to the ocean and be a part of that blue economy,” says Rollins. “I tell [my guests] straight-up: this is a podcast about you and your story. If you want to tell us about a new product that’s coming out, that you don’t have out just yet, go for it.”
Rollins had little experience in media before starting on his new venture, but he’s proven to be a quick study. And although Beyond the Buoy caters to a niche audience, Rollins is finding his listeners. This month, the show has drawn more than 1,000 downloads, and strangers – from around the world – are reaching out to him on social media.
“The response has been surprisingly well,” says Rollins. “People are listening in Japan, Sweden, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, all these countries I have no relationship with at all. It’s showing me that people are enjoying the show, and it means a lot when you get that message, and people are like, ‘Keep going. Don’t stop.’”