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The first episode of Trailside Radio! Two months before his big adventure, Ratatouille interviews PCT thru-hikers Paul “Blurr” Burdick (2013) and John “Cupcake” Brennan (2002) about trail culture, going the distance, and readjusting to life after a thru-hike. He also talks with his mother, Mary Hepokoski, about her wilderness experiences and the camping trips she took him on as a child.
Paul’s blog: Shapeless Chaos
John’s blog: Cupcake Walk
Bonus link: Naked American Hero
Recording assistance provided by Ariana Rosales. Theme song by Nicholas Austin Skinner.
Production of Trailside Radio has begun. In the last week I’ve conducted three interviews, with more to come. By early April there should be at least two episodes available for your listening pleasure.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have very little experience interviewing people. Over the years, I’ve probably conducted more job interviews than journalistic interviews. I listen to a lot of interview-based podcasts (WTF, Nerdist, etc.) but the hosts of these shows have the advantage of decades of experience in radio and television. Luckily for me, Trailside Radio will not focus on long form interviews like these other podcasts do. There is no pressure for me to seamlessly fill an hour with one unedited conversation. Still, I need to develop a similar set of skills if I want to create the best result possible.
Fortunately, my first three subjects have all been great storytellers who made the process easy for me. I interviewed two people who have completed thru-hikes of the PCT. Both interviews were conducted at a friend’s home studio here in Portland, which allowed me to forget about the recording process and focus on the conversation. Both sessions exceeded my expectations, and the credit belongs to the hikers I was interviewing. I think the secret for me will be to stay out of the way as much as possible. Follow-up questions are great when someone isn’t sure what to say next, but when a story has momentum, it’s usually best to stand back. My goal is to give people space to tell their own stories. In these segments the spotlight should be on the person telling the story.