What's Recording an Episode of The Bourbon Daily Really Like?
by Colonel Steve Akley
If you are reading this, you probably listen to The Bourbon Daily, and perhaps you have seen some of the photos of the crew recording an episode of the show on social media, but... what is it really like behind the scenes?
Well, I think this discussion probably begins with what are we trying to achieve with this program? I would say that TBD was designed to showcase personalities and bring fun and a light-hearted spirit to the world of bourbon. That doesn't mean that's all we are always funny all the time... in fact, we've done a great job in serious situations on this show as well. Whether you are talking about an interview with the likes of a Chris Morris of Brown-Forman, a memorial show where we shared thoughts on Parker Beam when he passed away or the special week dedicated to the contributions of African Americans in whiskey during Black History Month this year, we have done an amazing job in serious situations and one could easily argue it is perhaps our finest work.
Yep, we can put the silliness aside for a while to be serious when we need to be.
The heart of the show, though, is fun. What I love about this particular show is, the only limits we have are bound by our own creativity because we literally can do anything in terms of a topic when it comes to bourbon. A game dedicated to finding the coolest thing or person in bourbon... we can do that. A look at the best corks from the world of bourbon? Sure, we can do that. A group trying to solve the "world's bourbon problems".... absolutely! Anything we can think of can become a show and that's pretty damn cool.
With the goal of bringing fun no matter what the topic is (other than our serious shows/weeks, of course), we create an atmosphere of fun behind the scenes as well. Between shows, the group, laughs, shares personal stories and gets to know one another truly as friends. Though I haven't met everyone that comes onto a show, I consider anyone recording with us as good of a friend as I have in my life.
So, what's the magic formula? How can you toss a bunch of people together, stir it up a bit and have them coming out as friends by the end of a recording session?
Well, I think the secret is go into it just assuming everyone is going to be friends by the end of the journey. We don't do corporate "ice-breaker" exercises designed to get to know each other... we actually just get to know each other. When someone is new, I always say you can actually feel their awkwardness... but it goes away quickly when they realize everyone we put on the air is supportive, welcoming and truly interested in his or her friendship. As the person behind the scenes managing the show, I say you can often see the moment when a person officially joins the group. Their worries about what it's going to be like recording an episode, or social awkwardness quickly goes away when they simply start talking to the group and see how they are automatically accepted as "one of us."
I have to say that this journey has been amazing for me. I've met some of the greatest people in the world though the network and the shows we do. These are friendships I cherish and I consider the people I record with as good as any friends I have. It also makes me incredibly happy and proud to see the friendships developed within the shows by others. I can't tell you how good it feels to see two people who probably would have never crossed paths in life, but happened to both record a show with me become friends as well.
Recently, there has been much focus on the bonds created through bourbon thanks to the stories shared by Freddie Johnson in the excellent documentary, Neat: The Story of Bourbon. I'm happy to say that it's not just bourbon itself that builds bonds... sometimes it's podcasts about bourbon that builds lasting bonds and friendships, too!