by Joe Carrel, Buffalo Exchange HQ
We chatted with Portlander (and longtime Buffalo employee) Gary Hanson about how to start a podcast and find out all about his homegrown technology podcast, I’ll Have a Beer and Talk.
Let’s start with your path to Buffalo Exchange…
I like to know a little bit about most everything and I’ve had a varied career. Coincidentally, a video store I helped open in Cambridge, Massachusetts closed and became a Buffalo Exchange.
I started with the Buff in Portland in 2008. I like that the Store Administrative Assistant position allows me to use pretty much every random skill I’ve gathered and apply them in a way that makes everyone’s lives easier.
When did you begin “I’ll Have a Beer and Talk”?
I posted the first episode in March of 2015, although the idea had been percolating for about a year previous. I listen to a lot of technology journalism podcasts and always found myself talking back to them. I really liked the conversational aspect of talking about technology. Unfortunately, none of my friends are as into technology as I am, so I just decided to do it on my own. With beer.
What was the podcasting learning curve like?
There are amazing resources on the internet that make the whole learning process easier than you’d think. One that I specifically keep going back to is called The Audacity to Podcast. I got some good tips on how to start a podcast from there, including boosting audio quality as well as equipment recommendations and tricky mixer setup tutorials. I chose PodOmatic as my hosting service simply because they had the best free account option and my favorite music (and non-tech) podcast, The Casbah, is hosted there.
How long does it take you to prep for an episode?
From soup to nuts, about 4-6 hours. I collect stories that I want to present throughout the week. Since I’m not good at improvisation, having everything written out beforehand is important. I’m also not a professional writer, so it takes me about 2-4 hours just to get my copy down. I spend about 10 minutes finding sound effects and weird music, about 25-35 minutes doing the actual recording and an hour editing.
You might be surprised to learn that drinking beer and talking makes you burp. A lot. Nobody wants to hear that, so I cut all that out. Once it’s edited, I quickly do an intentionally bad Photoshop for the episode artwork, and load it up onto my hosting service. From there, it gets posted on iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher, Spreaker and about a dozen other podcast listing services, as well as on the show’s official Facebook page and Twitter feed. If I remember to take an interesting photo of the beer, I post it on the show’s Instagram.
What is something that most people do not know about putting a podcast together?
It’s a lot of work for no guaranteed reward. Honestly, if you want to make one, never assume you’ll be successful right out of the gate. If you like doing it, just keep doing it and focus on what *you* are passionate about. People will gravitate to that. MST3K creator Joel Hodgeson said something that I will always remember: “We never say, ‘Who’s gonna get this?’ We always say, ‘The right people will get this.’” Also, don’t worry if you think you’re terrible at the start; the more you do it, the more natural the whole thing gets. If you don’t work at it, nothing will happen!
What do you find most enjoyable about this endeavor?
I have been gifted with a face for radio, and the voice to match, so I like being able to use those gifts. I get really into all the technical bits; operating the mixer, setting up the soundboard, queueing up YouTube clips, even editing, and making everything sound really, really good – like I’m a professional or something. I also like sneaking in references to the 70s and 80s sci-fi I grew up with.
I enjoy sharing all that I’ve learned with other podcasters of all experience levels at local meetups, and ultimately I love being able to make my wife genuinely laugh at the terrible jokes I put in each episode when we listen to the finished shows together.
Where do your craft beer suggestions come from?
Because I live in Portland, the beer selection is enormous – even at the supermarket – so it’s easy to find something good. The show itself isn’t really about beer specifically, but I like to give out some beer education. Beer is as varied and nuanced as wine and spirits, if you just look beyond the domestic yellow fizzies. For the past few months I’ve been working from an amazing birthday present from our housemate: 35 craft beers from across the country.
Out of the many beers you’ve tried on the episodes, what is your favorite?
Ecliptic Brewing’s Aurora Crimson, a seasonal Saison that’s brewed with rhubarb. Drinking a Saison is like drinking liquid sunshine. The addition of rhubarb gave it a flavor reminiscent of raspberries and beets… kind of a tart sweetness and earthiness that coalesces into an amazing overall taste experience.
Deschutes Brewery’s Armory XPA is also hands down one of the best beers I’ve ever had. If you see it anywhere, grab it immediately. I also loooove Breakside Brewery’s Aztec, which is an American Strong Ale brewed with chilies. It has a wonderful spicy kick to it, but they don’t brew it often, so I haven’t had it on the show yet. I do have a bottle of the bourbon barrel-aged Aztec in our fridge, but it’s waiting to be opened for a special occasion.
What beer is most commonly found in your fridge?
It varies with the seasons, and it’s more about style than specific breweries. My wife and I generally consume Porters and Stouts in the winter, Pilsners and Lagers in the spring and summer, with the addition of Saisons in late summer, and Brown Ales in the fall. We’re not particularly fond of IPA’s, but once in a while I feel the need to be kicked in the face with hops, so I imbibe well-balanced IPA’s, like Ninkasi’s Velocihoptor or Tricerahops.
You have a knack for plucking intriguing (and often quirky) stories from the field of tech. What are your go-to sources?
Throughout the day I check my top 7 blogs Lifehacker, Gizmodo, Engadget, The Verge, io9, BoingBoing, and Mashable, then I check my second tier about once a day; New Scientist, Business Insider, (Portland’s own) Digital Trends, Daily Dot, Ars Technica, Slashdot, Quartz, Atlas Obscura, Geek.com, and about 2-3 dozen other sites; I use Feedly to aggregate all the sources.
I also check Reddit occasionally, specifically the Portland and Technology subreddits, as well as those for my favorite daily podcasts, Daily Tech News Show and Tech News Today. I seem to be able to absorb information like a sponge.
What types of stories do you find yourself gravitating towards?
I’m intrigued by advances in transhumanism, brain-controlled prosthetics, cybernetic implants, the evolution of internet-enabled electronics, smartphones, smart home automation devices, the exciting future of burrito (or other goods & services) deliveries via drone, the discoveries being made in animal psychology and intelligence (I wish I had a crow friend), and just about anything that gives me an opportunity to make a horrible pun or subtle reference to Classic Doctor Who.
Can I have your nominees for the craziest story you’ve featured on I’ll Have a Beer and Talk?
- Canadian Mounties “arresting” a tiny goat that escaped from a nearby college rodeo for trespassing and refusing to leave a restaurant in Saskatchewan (it wanted to stay warm in their entry foyer)
- The revelation that there is an official primate research project called Tinder for Orangutans, which is pretty much exactly what you might think. I got some good show artwork out of that!