Side Hustle Success Stories: Life & Times in Rat City

Thinking about starting something on the side? Check out FindSpark’s latest side hustle,, for all the tips and tricks you need to pull off a successful side project.

Featured Side Hustler: Karen Fensterstock

Connect with Karen: Twitter // LinkedIn

Side Hustle: Rat City Radio (Twitter)

Full-Time Job: At the moment I’m a Senior Producer at Beamly and Shaun is AP at Nickelodeon

Tell us about your hustle:

We are Shaun and Karen, and this show is about our life and times in Brooklyn– AKA Rat City. We discuss fun news, pop culture, our recommendations of places to go and things to see around BK and NYC, what’s up in our apartment, do weird readings and parody songs, and interview our friends and enemies in “Rat Chat”.

What motivated you to start it?

We wanted to have a creative side project in media that we were excited about and allowed us to hone our writing and producing skills. Like most friends, we have a great dynamic, and find it very easy for us to talk endlessly about a wide array of topics (namely eating and boy bands), so, a podcast was a natural fit for us– and, it’s something that we can produce fairly quickly, without paying anyone or needing anyone else involved. It’s been a great excuse for us to go a lot of new places and learn about a lot of new things. We’re always saying “This would make a great Rat City segment”. It’s truly changed the way we live in New York City.

While building your side hustle, who has helped/supported you the most?

Our friends and family have been extremely supportive. They are not only our biggest fans and most avid listeners, but they’ve also joined us for Rat Chat (our interview segment), which has been awesome. We’ve learned so much from them their feedback while building the podcast, and we would definitely be nowhere without their advice and encouragement.

Who is your biggest side hustle role model?

Ryan Seacrest and Casey Kasem. Duh.

How much time on average do you spend on your side hustle per week?

When we’re producing an episode, around 4-5 hours. On weeks we’re not, 1-2 hours.

What was the biggest element holding you back from starting and how did you overcome it?

The general tentativeness of starting a new project. Questions like “What’s it really going to be about?” “Are we good enough to do this?” “Is this a good idea?” and laziness. Pure, unfiltered laziness. 

We overcame it by basically getting up one day and saying “WE’RE DOING THIS RIGHT NOW!” and just getting to work.

What is an example of a time you hit a rough patch? How did you handle the situation?

The roughest patch we had was the one where we weren’t getting the idea off the ground. We kept on saying things like “It would be so great to have a podcast” and talking endlessly about it, without doing anything to start it. It’s easy to talk endlessly about all the great things you WANT to make, but you need to get up and do them. Maybe they won’t turn out how you wanted them to, and maybe you’ll decide you don’t want to do it after all, but you won’t know until you TRY. Fortunately, we absolutely love and adore our project, so that’s not a problem for us.

What has been the biggest benefit of having a side project?

The benefits are truly endless, but the biggest benefit is perhaps that we are creating and sharing something that we absolutely love, and is so completely ours. We work hard to come up with engaging topics, have original and creative banter, well structured and edited shows, and build a dedicated fan base. We really take great pride in Rat City Radio, and that pride is meaningful to us.

What are your favorite apps/books/productivity hacks?

We use Tumblr and SoundCloud to share our voices with the masses, and they are really amazing platforms.

FinalCutPro for editing video, Paint for editing pictures, and Google for everything else. iHeartRadio is probably the greatest app in the entire world– you can listen to a billion (roughly) radio stations across the country and build your own. Listening to morning talk shows– their topics, their banter, their interviews, their music– has been such an amazing help in honing our skills and making our show fresh and exciting to our listeners every episode. For promotion, Facebook has absolutely been the most beneficial way to spread the word about RCR. And though it might have nothing to do with how we promote our podcast, SnapChat is definitely the best way to send naked pictures to people.

For someone starting out, what is your biggest piece of advice?

If you don’t know what you want your side hustle to be, think about what you’re good at, and what you LOVE doing. Sometimes the two might not overlap, so you have to figure out what kind of project is the right one for you. What excites you? What can you see yourself dedicating yourself to? When you start falling asleep and waking up to the excitement of your idea, you’re on to something.

Find the right person or people to work with. We wouldn’t recommend reaching out to everyone you know at once to join you in your endeavor– sometimes people are better as friends than as partners. Think about who you work well with, who shares your passions, and who has similar vision as you. And, beyond that, ask yourself, “Who can I get into a creative disagreement with that won’t end up with one of us screaming, storming off, and quitting the project?” We’ve never fought about anything creatively, because we’re too good at compromising. It’s a curse, really, because we’d love an excuse to throw a hair dryer at each other. Have a specific vision. Saying “I’m going to build a web series! I just bought a domain!”, holding a launch party, and then being unable to come up with consistent (or any) content is a no-go, and unfortunately something we see happen all the time. Come up with the idea, work hard on it, and then start to share it with people once you have something to share. Don’t work backwards. THAT WOULD BE WHACK!

Thinking about starting something on the side? Check out FindSpark’s latest side hustle,, for all the tips and tricks you need to pull of a successful side project.

Want your side hustle to be featured on our blog? Get in touch!

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