There’s not much that could top two great friends getting together to BS about the state of the world and other timely – or even untimely – topics. Unless, that is, you add craft beer and fine bourbon to that conversation to come up with an audibly intoxicating podcasting recipe. And for the foam on top? Toss in Podcasting 2.0 features for an absolutely tantalizing podcast. Those are the ingredients for Beer, Bourbon and Balderdash, compliments of our November Podcasters of the Month, Wes Olsen and John Harrison.
Although launched in February 2022, the duo’s friendship goes back a decade when they met at their sons’ soccer games. “We immediately made each other laugh and since then our families have become very close; we are family,” Wes said.
The hosts explained that Beer, Bourbon and Balderdash came about, “as many things do, while drinking and having spirited conversations (pun intended)” . . . you know, bar talk.
“We thought it would be fun to start a podcast where we drink and give our takes on all kinds of topics,” Wes said. “Since John and I don’t always agree, we also thought it was important to have people listen to what it sounds like to disagree but remain friends. I also think we agree people generally are more alike than different.”
Outside of the podcasting universe, Wes and John say they’re just a couple of Joes loving their families and enjoying life as much as they can. Wes, who identifies as a conspiracy therapist, enjoys spending time with his wife vacationing and street photography (check him out at @wesolsenphotography on Instagram).
John, who describes himself as Fun Boy, is into building and fixing things, and getting tons of satisfaction out of helping people. “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a father who seemed to know how to fix almost anything and passed that skill on to me,” he said. “I love working side by side with my wife, and the two of us have taken on everything from kitchen remodels to decks and patios, to building our own off-grid cabin in central Washington.”
- How do you choose which alcohols you feature on your shows? Do people contact you and ask you give theirs a try? Have you ever had to call any out for being really horrid?
We choose by what’s available and what sounds interesting to try. We haven’t had anyone reach out to us to review their products but we have received a bottle of whiskey from a No Agenda producer, that thankfully ended up being really good. We also have had some stinkers on the podcast and we try to find something good about them, but because we have no corporate sponsorships (Value4Value!) we can be honest!
Since beer can be very seasonal, we will often select ones that fit the time, like Oktoberfest. Or sometimes it fits the theme because of a clever name.
- In addition to beer and bourbon, you touch on topics such as mental health, conspiracy theories, extraterrestrials and some of the most outrageous and ill-conceived ideas known to humanity. How do you balance the juxtaposition of fun, flavorful discussion with more intense conversations?
Since we see ourselves as a “Bar Talk” podcast we want to be mostly entertaining and light. We touch on topics that we find thought provoking and maybe our audience will too. In the end we want to make something we enjoy and maybe can bring a smile for an hour a week to someone else.
- You livestream your show and audiences can chat with you throughout. What are advantages and disadvantages to live-streaming?
Advantages of live-streaming is getting immediate feedback and engagement from our listeners. Meeting new people and hanging out with old friends is what’s at a bar and the more we can create that type of show the better it will be.
The disadvantages would be the technical issues that can arise that your audience has to listen to, which can be long and tedious.
- You guys have adopted Podcasting 2.0 – well done – while a lot of hosts are still trying to figure out what it’s all about. Can you tell us more about how you are using Podcasting 2.0, which features you are consistently using and how they benefit you? Do you have a wish list for what you would like to see in Podcasting 2.0 or in podcasting in general?
It is amazing to me how many “mainstream” and “popular” podcasts have not jumped on to Podcasting 2.0. There are so many cool benefits that they could use that would allow them to have a bigger impact on their audience. I wouldn’t say we are very popular, but we have a good base and we want to give them value by adding chapters and some artwork while they listen. As we continue to grow and go live more often, the “live tags” in Podcasting 2.0 apps become even more essential. If live chat could be integrated into that it would propel this even further.
- What is your preparation routine as you’re planning your next episode(s)? Do you have – and how do you approach – a recording schedule?
Wes: We usually send texts throughout the week about topics and then I create some talking points to help keep us engaged and on track. John created a tracking sheet to record what beers and bourbons we have had and will use on the podcast so that helps a lot. Right now we go live and record on Wednesdays at 4pm PST because with us being bi-costal that seems to work best.
John: I think we are still getting it figured out. We are constantly trying to figure out ways to better engage the audience and make the show better. For example we have typically decided what to drink week to week, but recording remotely requires us to plan much further out, forcing us to get better.
- Anything coming up you’d like our Blubrry audience to know about with Beer, Bourbon and Balderdash?
Wes: We would like to invite the Blubrry audience to check out the podcast and reach out to us with comments and suggestions. We like constructive criticism and we even take calls on the podcast so the audience can participate. So just like going to a bar, come hang out with us and let’s make new friendships! Cheers!
John: I second that. We try to be as honest and authentic as possible. We have been told by friends who listen that the podcast has the same feel as when we are just sitting around as friends chatting.
We like interactions and don’t take criticism personally. If you love it, tell us. If you hate, tell us. We don’t want our show to be homogenous, average, and boring. And much like bourbon, we know we are not for everyone.
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