GUEST POST: On Making a Podcast

Reflections on storytelling, memory, and podcasting as a creative practice

We’re now in the second week of the Boss Barista takeover: For this project, I’ve invited coffee creators, fans, and drinkers to make an episode of a podcast and share it on this channel. To accompany their audio, each creator has also written a companion article, which will be shared on the Thursday after their episode goes out.

Below, find a piece written by Amanda Whitt of the Updose Podcast—and if you haven’t already, listen to their inaugural episode about the Pacific Northwest’s coffee drive-thrus here, and learn more about their show by following them on Instagram.

Now, read on for Amanda’s musings about the podcast as a creative medium—and what happens when the art you like to consume isn’t necessarily the art you end up making.

Hello, Amanda (they/them) here, your friendly neighborhood guest-podcaster.  

When I think of the type of art that I connect with the most, it looks a lot like the heavily structured, bold black lines of cartoonist and illustrator Charles Burns—but when I sit down to draw, that style is not how I naturally create, not even close. I started out my podcast in much that same way. When Ashley put out a call for guest shows, I pitched a number of ideas for podcasts that I wanted to listen to, not really thinking about what the process of making them would look like. 

When it comes down to it, I think that podcasting is like any other creative art— sometimes there is a disconnect between what you love to consume and what your heart wants to make. Initially, I wanted to get into how the coffee drive-thru started—the technical details, all of them, the weirder the better—and unwrap a mystery.   

To some extent, this podcast episode does get into the nuts and bolts of the coffee drive-thru’s origins—we discuss the founding of what was possibly the Pacific Northwest’s first such drive-thru, Motor Moka in Portland, Oregon, in 1990. We also explore the many business lives of Terry Ziniewicz, who, among other things, joined as a partner in Piccolo Espresso. This background provides so much context I wouldn’t have understood otherwise.

However, what the episode primarily does (and what I learned gives me a lot of pleasure creatively), is to tell a story about what it felt like to work at a coffee drive-thru. Beyond my own experience, how I chose to frame the story was shaped largely by the conversations that took place on social media and through personal conversations leading up to the episode, both on and off the record.

There are also parts of the story that get into the darker side of doing that job at a young age. These conversations were the most intimidating of all to record, even after all these years. Something that I couldn’t quite find the words for in the episode, but that I thought about a lot afterward, is that these jobs risk perpetuating a cycle of abuse. Normalizing unacceptable behavior in one’s early work experiences could impact how we look at later employment situations, and even how we treat colleagues and employees if we attain a position of power and don’t properly confront it.  

If you are thinking about what it would mean to make a podcast and want to try it, reach out! Through these last months, I have learned so much, and have found the process of exploring audio editing to be incredibly rewarding, and even somewhat relaxing on my better days. This project represents my work as it is now, and captures some of my homesickness for the Northwest and nostalgia for a younger self at the same time.  

Thank you again to Ashley, The Boss Barista Podcast, and Chobani for making this possible, and please follow @UpDosePodcast on Instagram or @UpDosePod on Twitter if you want to hear episode two! 

Special thanks to Chobani for making the Boss Barista takeover possible.