Today we’d like to introduce you to Shannon McGarvey.
Hi Shannon, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Sure! And thank you so much for inviting me to share my journey as a writer and senior producer of television and podcasts. I got my first break into the world of media in 2006, when I was hired as an Editorial Assistant in the Entertainment Department at the Austin American-Statesman. I spent two years working at the Statesman before I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. This time in my life was so exciting and also a little scary— I had never even visited the United Kingdom, and I literally knew no one in Scotland. During this time, I continued to work with the Statesman as a freelance entertainment reporter covering Austin-related music and film news in the UK. I wrote stories about local touring acts such as Okkervil River, Balmorhea, and White Denim, and covered local filmmaker Bob Byington at the Edinburgh Film Festival. After I finished my graduate degree I moved to New York City to seek steady writing work. I ended up falling into a gig at an obscure digital broadcast audio company called Music Choice, where I worked 10-hour days in a windowless room writing short blurbs about random musical artists. It sounds like a scene out of a bad coming-of-age sitcom, but it’s true. I kept applying for other jobs, and eventually I landed at A&E Networks, writing and producing content for the now-defunct Biography and Crime and Investigation channels. It was fun work and drew on my professional experience at the Statesman as well as my personal well of apparently not-so-useless pop culture knowledge. In 2012, I decided to move back to Austin, at which point I realized there really wasn’t much work for my new niche skill set here. All the writing and producing gigs were commercial, for ad agencies and tech giants, not for television. The small pool of TV work that was present in Austin at the time felt incredible competitive and insular.
So what’s a writer and producer to do when she can’t find work? Make work. That’s when I started Moonpie Media. With my former creative partner Carter Pagel, we began writing, producing, and directing commercials for major brands, local businesses, tech start-ups, and just about anybody else who needed a comedic video content. Our first big success came with a commercial for CLR Brands called “First Impressions,” which was featured in Ad Week. We’d eventually go on to produce work for Western Union, Intel, Ace Cash Express, Flash Parking, Whole Foods, Soda Stream, and others. In 2015, Moonpie Media went on indefinite hiatus when I accepted a job at a local television and podcast production company called Megalomedia, where I still work today. With Megalomedia, I’ve managed production teams for major cable networks such as TLC, Travel Channel, and Discovery, as well as documentary and podcast projects. Currently, I work as Senior Producer and contributor for the LISK: Long Island Serial Killer podcast, a top-rated long-form true-crime series. I also recently wrote, produced, and hosted the Servant Girl Annihilator pilot, about America’s first serial killer, for iHeartRadio.
We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate. No matter how uncertain the times, I have always managed to land on my feet professionally. When there wasn’t a job, I made a job. When there wasn’t an opportunity, I carved out an opportunity for myself. As a creative professional, you must be nimble, relentless, and possess an almost irrational belief in yourself.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
Above all else, I consider myself a writer and an artist. Human stories interest me the most—especially those about marginalized and underrepresented groups of people. I’m particularly drawn to the female experience, as well as the plight of American people of color. I am incredibly proud of my investigative work on LISK: Long Island Serial Killer, as well as the narrative storytelling on the Servant Girl Annihilator podcast. Both stories are victim-focused and shine a light on the inequities facing women and minorities, while examining the failings of both society and law enforcement.
Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Austin is a beautiful, vibrant city with no shortage of hiking trails, rivers and streams, swimming holes, and sprawling vistas. Austin is also a city of racial inequity, mass homelessness, skyrocketing housing costs, and little diversity. It’s easy to see why people move here. It’s also easy to see why people leave.