Meet Renée Howe
by Colonel Steve Akley
Meet Renée Howe
A few weeks ago, I kicked off my first in a series of posts about meeting the team with a feature on Jeremy Schell. My goal is to eventually get to everyone profiled from the ABV Network. It’s a fun behind the scenes look at how we met, what they do for the ABV Network and what these individuals mean to me.
Today, I am talking about Renée Howe. I’ll kick this whole thing off by saying nobody means more to me in what I am doing than Renée. She does an amazing job on the air and she works hard behind the scenes to ensure our programming is the best it can be for our audience. It’s not uncommon for Renée and I record 5 times in a week. We may be doing 2-3 nights of The Bourbon Daily, a daytime recording session for our new show Bourbon History and then there’s probably something else thrown in there as well (commercials, promos for the network, strategies meetings, etc.). Renée is certainly a driving force in what we are doing, and I can’t begin to tell you what she means to me
I’m not exactly sure when I first met Renée, but let’s say approximately June of 2016. Renée was just really getting into drinking bourbon around that time. She has stated on the air her family drank so she grew up drinking all different types of alcohol. I’m not sure why bourbon ended up being her thing, but like a lot of the bourbon Instagram community, her passion for our favorite distilled spirit led her to look on Instagram to see who else out there shared this interest.
One of the first people she interacted with was Evan Haskill. This isn’t really that unusual. At that time, the spring of 2016, Evan was still on this journey where he would look at everyone who posted with certain hashtags, follow them and begin commenting on their posts. As I’ve met more people from Instagram through my podcasts, it’s always amazing to hear how many of them say, “The first person I really interacted with was Evan Haskill.”
So, at that point, Evan knew Renée, but I didn’t know her myself. Another thing Evan used to do from time-to-time was to take out a piece of paper, write, “follow these people,” and write a few Instagram IDs and post a photo of his handwritten “follow list.” So, one of these times he did that, my name was on his “chicken scratch” list. Renée, still brand new and wanting to expand her bourbon social network, followed me.
Renée and I instantly became best friends.
I don’t think I tend to be the most engaging person on IG, so we were followers of one another. I liked her stories of bourbon hunting in Canada. She was cool… and cute in her approach with her posts. To this day, she has a playful innocence about her posts that are endearing so I hope that most people interpret her the same way.
The bottom line, she’s great.
In September of 2016, we kicked off The Bourbon Show strictly as an interview show. Shortly thereafter, I got this idea for “Pint Size” versions of the show. Bourbon topics in a shorter format with no guests.
One of the regular shows we started doing on these Pint Size editions was trivia. It was our own unique take on trivia where you could toss a question to someone else and if they missed it, you got the points the same as if you had answered it and we took the points from them as well.
For our third edition, we invited Renée. That show ran January 26, 2017. You can check it out right here: https://goo.gl/rCRu79
If you listen to that show, you do get a couple of previews of Renée’s humor. Mostly, though, it takes a bit of an ugly turn when Evan decides he had to win the game at all costs and steps on Renée to do so. Again, she was very new to bourbon so it came off as a little cruel. In fact, afterwards, the friendship of Evan and Renée would become strained so I moved in and we became best friends.
Again, just kidding.
We remained pretty much as before… friendly on Instagram but, by no means, “best friends.”
I did view her very differently after the recording session, though. At the time, we would let the recorder roll for like two hours after we were done recording as we just talked casually with the guests. Just talking. We were thinking we may release these as an “after hours” show.
It was during that time… casual Renée just being Renée, that I knew I wanted to work with her at some point. No longer under the pressure of the trivia game, or show in-general, her just talking was amazing. She was hilarious and able to instantly play off what other people were saying. With my “show producer hat on,” I knew these are skills that not everyone has and makes for great show content.
Fast forward to a few months later… March of 2017, we had a co-host of The Bourbon Daily leave. We invited Renée on to join us and it was electric from the moment we started working together. She likes to laugh at the fact the show she first came on, by chance, was our 69th show. We ended up doing this parody show focusing in on “things that sound dirty at a distillery, but aren’t.” We laughed and laughed at that one. (Check it out here: https://goo.gl/Ru7iVw).
The rest is kind of history as they say.
Renée brings a sense of commitment, desire to learn and humor to everything we do. I am often in awe at how incredible she is for what we are doing at the ABV Network. The ability to pick up what someone else says, on the fly, and then play-off of someone else’s humor is incredible. It’s the sort of thing you would see some of the comedy greats like Will Ferrell or Sacha Baron Cohen doing.
People often ask, what’s Renée like off the air. I’ll bet I am closer to her than just about anyone with her based on all of the time we share together working. I will say that one thing about Renée is she does like to keep her private life private. What you see on Instagram is what you are going to get. At this point, I consider her a very good friend. As a friend, I just respect her desire to keep her private life private and I don’t pry into what she does when she’s not working with me.
I will say this, though, there isn’t a better person in the world than Renée Howe. She is amazing at what she does. She is fiercely loyal to me and fully believes in the future the ABV Network has. She works incredibly hard to keep the network going and if she told me she was quitting tomorrow, there would be a lot of soul-searching I would need to do to see if we could even go on without her.
So, in summary, who is Renée Howe?
She’s not just this amazing funny and strong woman you hear on the air, she’s also a hard-working roll-up your sleeves type willing to do the unglamorous part of the equation to make sure we are delivering quality content to you, our listeners.
While I joked about it several times in this column already, it’s safe to say that my buddy “Nene” really is my bourbon bestie.
I sure am glad Evan wrote my name on his handwritten “follow them” list.