Chance the Rapper performs during a past Bonnaroo performance.

Sixteen weeks ago, Hits 96 radio personality Brad Steiner and I realized it might be fun to do a podcast focusing on the acts coming to this year's Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The idea emerged for two reasons: We both have attended the festival for at least 12 years, and there were quite a few bands we were not familiar with on this year's schedule.

We thought we'd take a look at some of those acts, talk about some of our past experiences, and offer some tips and advice on surviving the four-day camping excursion on a former farm in the middle of Tennessee.

Within a week of first conceiving the idea, we had a name (The What Podcast), a website (, you can also find it on Podbean and iTunes) and the blessing of the folks at Bonnaroo. In fact, they offered to help us line up guests and gave us a pair of tickets to give away.

We thought it'd be fun, and might get a few listeners. Turns out, no one else was doing a Bonnaroo-based podcast, and lots of people wanted to talk Roo.

We posted our 15th edition on Sunday, and we will likely do a roundup, or maybe two of them, sometime after the festival is over, and we hope to talk to fans, artists and organizers while on the farm. As I write this, the podcasts have been downloaded more than 13,000 times in 71 countries, if the analytics are accurate. We are big in Australia, Canada and the Philippines.

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Barry Courter

The episodes include everything I said above, but we also were lucky enough to get some really cool guests to talk to us. Bonnaroo co-founder and AC Entertainment founder Ashley Capps was our first guest, but we featured interviews with David Shaw and Rob Ingraham from the Revivalists, Trevor Terndrup, new artist Bazzi and a surprise (to us) interview with Klara and Johanna Söderberg of First Aid Kit. The sisters called from their native Sweden to talk about their music.

We also talked with Senior Vice President of Promotion/Operations of Columbia Records Jim Burruss and Mike Greenhaus, editor -in-chief of Relix Magazine.

Paul Janeway from St. Paul and the Broken Bones spent so much time laughing and telling stories about his past Bonnaroo experiences, we made two episodes from it.

We also had a couple of regular campmates join us, as well as several listeners to the podcast call in to offer their best stories and tips on attending Bonnaroo, and also to give us their tips on bands not to miss.

If you are looking for new music, or think it's just about camping in the heat, give it a listen.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.


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