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Terrifically terrifying…or terrifyingly terrific?

Sister podcasts make an impression

We sit at a paper-covered table, upstairs and away from guests at Rochester’s Union Tavern. There’s an ambiance of serenity—even though the tavern is haunted. Nick Koziol and Jess DeCotis sit side by side, eager to discuss their podcasts that are making an impact in the local community. 

While working in higher education amid the pandemic, Koziol wanted a change. He started concentrating on helping nonprofits, which eventually led him to launch his first podcast, That Sounds Terrific, in October of 2020. 

“I wanted to do something meaningful,” Koziol says. “I saw podcasting as an opportunity to interview some of these leaders in the community and talk about the work they do while also looking at how they were pivoting for the pandemic. ‘In-person’ was no longer a way to fundraise or hold events, so the podcast was a way to let the audience know who these people are, what they do, and how we can help.” 

Currently in its fourth season, the show has featured dozens of guests, and every episode takes a different angle. 

“We might be talking about hunger issues in one episode and then the power of dream in the next, so it can get tricky finding a ‘cult-following’ audience,” Koziol says. “But what I like about it is that I can weave in all these different organizations that are helping people. A lot of the movement then happens through social media networks. The organizations will get more customers and volunteers or [get] their word out in a different way—it keeps it fresh.” 

Koziol’s second podcast, That Sounds Terrifying, which he cohosts and produces with DeCotis, takes a different approach. It grasps audiences from a unique perspective, homing in on a niche—all things spooky. 

“It’s just the wind,” DeCotis assures, as the Union Tavern’s upstairs wooden doors continuously creak open. Only twenty minutes earlier she had revealed that ghosts live up there. 

Koziol continues, “Places like this have a lot of history, you’re surrounded by water, there’s stone everywhere, and, scientifically, there’s energy held within that; you tend to find more activity around places that can store energy or have energy running through.” 

The idea for a second podcast came about quickly. DeCotis had encountered a paranormal experience with her house cleaner, and she couldn’t resist sharing the story with Koziol. Completely intrigued, he latched onto the topic. 

“I thought about making a podcast instantly, but we had only been friends for a little while, and I didn’t want her to feel like I was a total kook,” Koziol says. 

DeCotis continues, “I didn’t even know how he was going to take it because we weren’t that close, but I didn’t care at that point—I just had to spill it. And about two weeks later, Nick circled back on the idea and asked if I’d be interested in cohosting.” 

That Sounds Terrifying shares stories from near and far, frequently hosting guests to recall their own spiritual experiences and sometimes allowing for on-site recording, such as in their episode about Rochester’s haunted Union Tavern. Adding another layer to the podcast’s spooky endeavors is DeCotis’s mediumship abilities. She’s been in tune with the paranormal from an early age. 

“I was unable to explore it because of the way I grew up; I was told that it was evil,” DeCotis says. “The religion I was in was very strict about it. So, as I became an adult, I started to peel the layers of religion off myself and realized that I’m just a spiritual being, and I’m in tune with things. We’re all beings—it’s energy.” 

DeCotis compares her intuitiveness with meditation or sitting outside on a summer day—feeling the warmth on your skin, listening to the birds, and just sitting in the quiet. 

“It’s becoming aware of your surroundings, being in tune with what’s going on,” DeCotis says. “Some people are naturally more sensitive than others, but once you become aware of it, I think anybody can develop and become more sensitive. It’s a matter of if you want to and if you’re open to it.” 

The word “terrifying” is subjective in itself, but DeCotis and Koziol believe that awareness is empowerment. They focus on the more uplifting, high-energy side of things. 

“When I was little, I was so scared because I was told to be scared,” DeCotis says. “But it’s just energy, it’s just science, it’s just something else, right? They’re fun, they’re scary stories, but they’re teachable moments too.” 

Koziol continues, “I don’t want to be terrified necessarily, but I want to explore these things and help create a forum to share stories and cross-pollinate between other podcasts and sources to help create that awareness.” 

“Terrific” can be subjective as well, but Koziol and DeCotis want to hear stories from anyone and everyone. 

“It started as an outlet that allowed some positivity to hopefully rise above what was going on in the world during the pandemic,” Koziol says. 

But that positivity didn’t halt when masks were lifted; the shared experiences have carried a weight in the years since—truly making an imprint on the community. 

Whether you know of a leader in the community or have a ghostly experience to share, Koziol and DeCotis would love to get in touch. Information can be shared anonymously, or guests are welcome to take part in the show. Contact information can be found on their website,, and both podcasts can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or YouTube.

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