Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Interview With Joe Toscano of The Donut Bag

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to lately is The Donut Bag by Joe Toscano. While I asked him to describe the podcast below, the short description from its Twitter page is that The Donut Bag is "A podcast about Pittsburgh sports & other stuff." I thought I would ask Joe about how he started the podcast, his relationship with Chris Carter (not that Chris Carter unless it's the Chris Carter you're thinking of), and more.

My first question is how did you decide to do a podcast, how did you get started, and did you have type of media experience or did you just grab a microphone and begin? (Yes, I guess this should be first questions.)

I decided to do a podcast because I had too much to say and being a loudmouth on Twitter wasn’t enough :)
In early 2018, a couple podcasts were nice enough to have me on and I had so much fun that I thought about doing one of my own. But I was so shy and had no idea how to even start something like that so nothing happened. I thought I needed a cohost so I asked a few friends if they wanted to do a podcast with me and they turned it down. That ended up being a huge blessing because it gave the freedom to do whatever I wanted :)
So in July 2018 I decided it was now or never. Steelers training camp was starting and I wanted to do a lot of Steelers coverage so I decided to start the podcast. I never had any media experience other than a little writing but I did have a technical background so that helped. I tried to register with Apple Podcasts but they need an episode to get registered. Then I discovered I needed a host so I signed up with podbean. I was able to get out that first episode, get registered on all of the podcast platforms and the rest is history :)

Did you have an idea when you started of what you wanted the podcast to be?

Yes, and it turned out to be nothing like that :) I listen to a lot of podcasts and one of my favorites is This Week In Tech. Each episode is 2 hours and features a host and 3 experts talking about tech. So I thought I’d do the same thing but with sports and pop culture. I did a couple episodes like that but it was hard finding ‘experts’ to commit to 2 hours so I had regular fans talking. Then I tried to live up to the ‘donut bag’ aspect by having 3 or 4 different segments on one episode. That didn’t work because people complained it was too long. So now I put out a number of episodes a week that are 30-60 minutes long and each episode focuses on one subject.

Going off this question, I’m impressed by how prolific you are in putting out multiple episodes each week. How do you decide on the theme of each episode?

Some of it is planned ahead of time and some of it just happens :) During football season, I have a structure of doing a show previewing the upcoming week’s game then a show reviewing the games. For baseball and hockey, I try to do an episode a week. But then things come up, like the Le’Veon Bell situation or the Antonio Brown trade where I feel the need to do an episode ASAP. The Antonio Brown trade was funny because I found out about it on 6am one Sunday morning and saw that frequent guest Mark Hagelauer was online and I messaged him that we should do a podcast now. He said ‘huh? Dude it’s 6am!’ But we did one anyway :)
And sometimes things just come up, like when it was the 30th anniversary of Seinfeld so I decided to do an episode about it!

While I’m a little late in discovering your podcast, my favorite reoccurring podcast guest is Chris Carter of DK Pittsburgh Sports because of his knowledge of the Steelers and the rapport between the two of you. I feel like I’m going to go into Chris Farley mode here interviewing Paul McCartney on SNL, but that was awesome.

Thanks! Chris is awesome and we always meet in person to record. I usually talk to people over the phone or Skype but talking to someone in person is a whole different dynamic.

Is there a dream guest that you would like to have?

There’s so many :) I want to talk to athletes, current and former. I want to do episodes with Pittsburgh media personalities but I’m too shy to ask them :)

What has surprised you about doing the podcast?

That anyone would want to talk to me :) But I’ve had so many guests on and it’s been so much fun meeting new people. Also, since I’m a one man operation, I had to do a better job of getting organized. I’d be sitting at home and someone would message me that they’re ready to record and I’d forget that we agreed weeks ago to talk :)

What should we expect to see (well, hear) in The Donut Bag future?

I don’t know! :) Maybe less episodes. Some weeks I put out 5 or 6 episodes a week and that’s a bit much :) Being a one man operation gives me the freedom to do what I want, and sometimes things just come up so we’ll see what happens :)

Do you have a favorite podcast episode?

I don't really have a favorite podcast episode - they're all like my children :)

Oh, what is the song that’s played at the end of each podcast?

It’s a song called ‘restaurant at the end of the universe’ by a band called Gumband. (This is the band's website.) They usually do rock covers (and are REALLY good!) but this was one of their originals.

Thanks to Joe for taking the time to answer my questions. He really likes smiley faces! :)

I highly recommend checking out his podcast, particularly if you're a Pittsburgh sports fan. Even if you're not, skip those episodes and listen to those about The Office, Seinfeld, and more. You can also follow Joe on Twitter.

No comments: