Stories about the people who helped make us who we are.

The story behind the project.

If not for my childhood trumpet teacher, Edward Treutel, every single thing in my life would be completely different. Who I know. What I know. What I’ve done. How I think.

From the age of 5, when I first started lessons, to 17, when I went off to college, he had a bigger influence on me than anyone else.

Not suprisingly, I didn’t realize how important Ed had been to me until many years later. And, by then, he’d died. So I never had a chance to tell him.

That said, if I had realized his importance while he was alive, I’m still not sure I would have had the guts to tell him — to his face.

Nor am I certain I could have written him a letter. I’m not a writer.

However, if someone had approached me at the time and asked if they could record an interview with me talking about Ed’s impact, so I could share it with him, I would have jumped at the chance.

And had the Internet been mature at that point, I would have immediately emailed a link to the interview recording to Ed. And my mom (who found Ed for me), a bunch of other trumpet-playing colleagues, my dad, my sister, and two music professors of mine at Cornell.

I think Ed would have appreciated it. I think other students of Ed’s would have stumbled onto the interview and shared it. I think my grandkids might find it interesting. And it simply would have just been a nice thing for me to leave behind.

This is why I started If Not For.

I wanted to create a way for people to share stories about the folks who made them who they are. And I wanted to be effortless for them.

Also, I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t have advertising. Stories like these shouldn’t have any advertising associated with them.

~ Ted Pearlman, founder of If Not For

Our first three episodes feature (clockwise from top right) David Plotz, host of the Slate Political Gabfest and CEO of Atlas Obscura, recorded in Washington, DC; Arlene Alda, photographer and author, recorded in New York City; and Christoph Niemann, illustrator, recorded in Berlin.

Check out the podcast here.

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