The Crux PR Podcast Celebrates 100 Episodes

Gary Sheffer and Mike Fernandez of The Crux

While anniversaries are just a number to co-hosts Gary Sheffer and Mike Fernandez, the duo see an optimistic and long future for their public relations podcast, “The Crux,” as it hits its 100th episode mark.

Sheffer, a COM professor of the practice in public relations, and Fernandez, chief communications officer at Enbridge and former COM professor, want to see how “The Crux” can show the social impact in the media industry and adapt to how they approach topics that are interesting to professionals today, such as political divisions in the country or the impact of ChatGPT.

Communication has “the opportunity to open minds, to provide better context for the world we live in,” Fernandez says. “The journey that we’re on now is really to think about those issues and those guests who can give us an inkling of what that impact can be and what it is today to better where we are.”

The first episode of “The Crux” aired in 2019 when Sheffer and Fernandez were both working at COM, and they recorded the episodes out of the studios on campus with the help of graduate students.

The students are an integral part of the podcast because they are exposed to what’s new in the field as well as learning how to produce the show, Sheffer says. The introduction to the show to this day is voiced by one of their first graduate students.

“I love the fact that they just get to be a fly on the wall to all of those conversations because I’ve learned so much from our guests, and I think our student graduate assistants have as well,” he says.

After a couple years and a pandemic, the podcast moved to Zoom recordings. The show has changed its format over time, but they continue to reach out to leaders in communications to interview and benefit from the perspective they share. 

Guests such as BU Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Ethics Wesley Wildman, COM Dean Mariette DiChristina, and New York Times economics journalist Peter Goodman have opened the podcast to more than the public relations industry. “The Crux” now takes a dive into other professions cultivated by the conversations with their guests.

The full name of the podcast, “The Crux of the Story,” was chosen by Sheffer and Fernandez not just because it was unique and they liked the way it sounded, but because they wanted to create a narrative for exploring the key relationships in everyday life, Fernandez says.

“We liked it because we talk a lot as individuals about getting to the heart of the story, so it kind of fit with the nomenclature,” he says. “We can dig a little bit more deeply and learn a little bit more about the genesis of how certain things develop and take place.”

“The Crux” also thrives because their relationship allows them to bounce ideas and share their thoughts amongst themselves and their guests.

“We’re good foils for one another,” Fernandez says. “I’m kind of always sitting there looking for that opening to say, ‘Okay, what will people want to learn next?’ and then all of a sudden, [Gary] opens up another window as he sets up the context and it takes, even me, to a whole other place.”

Sheffer adds, “What Mike does is he has the listener in mind all the time. He asks questions in a way that helps the listener understand the person that we’re talking to and the topic.”

Reaching 100 episodes is something to be proud of – even if it’s “just a number,” they say.

“There aren’t a lot of podcasts that last 100 episodes,” Fernandez says. “One of the things that keeps me going every week is knowing that I’m going to have a conversation with Gary and someone very interesting in the world of communications.”