It all started when Hayes Barnes and Austin Walton sat down to talk about their favorite podcasts and books, and why they #LoveIndy.
Then came an idea that would formed Why, Indy? Podcast.
“We wanted to a talk to people around the city about how they got to where they are, about the steps they took and why,” says Hayes Barnes. “Connecting with these business leaders, entrepreneurs, and community leaders seemed like the next step to getting to know the city.”
Fast-forward a year and a half, and there are 30+ podcast episodes featuring key local thought-leaders in the city, including restaurant owner Chef Oya, artist Israel Solomon, and community leader Ashley Miser.
“We wanted to talk to people about what their experience was, why they went into the specific fields they chose, and breaking down their decisions,” says Hayes.
“We interviewed 20 different people across Indy, ranging from all fields and industries. After 20 interviews, we realized it’s less about decision making and more about people’s journeys. One of the key questions we asked every single guest in Season 1 was: what is the identity of Indianapolis?”
Hayes and Austin found a theme after these first few episodes: that people of Indianapolis are what comprises the identity.
“For us, it was seeing that there are people in this city who are walking in their purpose. They are driven to do that every single day. That became the idea behind Season 2 – asking our guests what their drive was, and how it connected them to Indy.
After Season 1, Austin had competing priorities and decided to leave the show. Hayes wanted to continue with Season 2, and so he pressed on with scheduling interviews, producing, interviewing, editing, and promotion.
“What I love about Indianapolis, there is a willingness to connect with human beings. I simply ask people to sit down and have a conversation, and I’ve been surprised and humbled about how many people are down to do that.”
A few local businesses have even worked with Hayes on special products and promotions. Gordon’s Milkshakes, Amberson Coffee, and Leviathan Bakery have partnered with Why, Indy? to offer unique milkshakes, lattes, and food items to uplift the partnership. In fact, as of September 1, Gordon’s Milkshakes is adding a permanent spot on their menu for Why, Indy? Podcast’s Blueberry Crumble Milkshake, with 25% of proceeds benefitting the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Indiana.
So: what’s next for Why, Indy? Podcast?
“I’ll use this forum to make the official announcement. There will be one more season of Why, Indy? Podcast. I say that with joy, with pride, a little bit sadness. If I’m asking my guests “why?” then my answer must be intentional for the people who confided in me early on. I want to be fair and honest with my listeners who followed me on this journey.
"I am starting a nonprofit that I hope will become my career and serve people of marginalized populations around the country. With an aspiration that large, I need to give my all to it. Why, Indy? has been an amazing experience, but even the best of things come to an end. But hey, I still got one more in me!”
Connect with Hayes at @whyindypodcast on Instagram and listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.