MADISON – Troy Bye, owner and host of the weekly “Our Town Podcast,” celebrated more than a new year this week with the taping of the show’s 100th episode.
And for the first broadcast of 2024, Bye brought in one of the show’s more popular guests – Valentina’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar owner Joe Carlucci. He first appeared on the show in episode 22 and has been the interviewer’s subject four times.
Much like the pizzas the Bronx-born implant makes at his busy eatery, Bye said Carlucci “made an instant impact” with “Our Town Podcast” listeners. His last two appearances focused on the restaurant’s relocation down the road from its original site to 25793 Huntsville-Brownsferry Road, and later to detail his winning Pizza Maker of the Year in Las Vegas last spring.
“It seems only fitting to have Joe join Troy for the big milestone 100th episode as that store is now complete and Joe will share his plans for the future of Valentina’s,” Troy said prior to recording the show. “Joe is always entertaining and does not cut corners with what is on his mind.”
Shows are usually available Monday or Tuesday each week. It is posted 8 a.m. every Thursday on 256 Today. The podcast can also be followed on social media:
Audio available on all platforms – just search for “Our Town Podcast”
Though his guest for No. 100 is well known to listeners of the show – and patrons seeking his pizza in rural Madison – the show has changed since No. 1 on April 4, 2021. Bye produces the podcast from a studio in his house with three cameras and interviews people from the areas of business, sports, entertainment, arts, education and government.
“It’s certainly evolved since the first episode to what it is now,” Bye said. “It’s pretty involved, but I’m pretty proud of it.”
Bye and his family moved to the Tennessee Valley from Virginia where they lived while he worked as a CIA contractor for 20 years. His first “Our Town Podcast” interview was with Ricky Fernandez, the on-field host of the Rocket City Trash Pandas’ home games, after meeting the emcee at Toyota Field during a game that was being sponsored by Mantech. Bye’s regular job is marketing and business development for that company.
The show’s guest list has sprouted from there. The 99th podcast featured Dana Gillis, CEO of Village of Promise, and Danielle Hart, the organization’s director of development and marketing.
About the first episode, Bye said, “I’d only lived here for like three months and didn’t really know the area. I started the podcast essentially to kind of get to know the area. I knew one person, maybe two people when I first moved here.”
Starting a show from the ground up isn’t new for Bye, who launched the media production company WL Media Group in 2012. He was an early adopter to livestream production and to what are now widely referred to as podcasts.
The “Our Town Podcast” is a full video and audio production that is built to scale to any live format.
“In 2012, I started with football games where my kids went to high school and I did live streaming, which is extremely difficult,” he said. “It was really hard back then. Things are so easy nowadays with Facebook live and YouTube. The technology that underlies it all is so commoditized. But back then it was really challenging. It was very unpredictable and unreliable at times, but I covered four seasons of football. We did basketball, some wrestling, lacrosse and soccer.’’
It proved to be a draw, but it was expensive, he said. Money that was made from the games went to cover costs. After the family relocated, Bye said he found an area growing much like Northern Virginia. He still had broadcasting equipment and decided to start his podcast, but also decided not to focus on one realm.
Bye said the cost of starting up this time was more palatable.
“Content creators – you had to pay all the costs back then,’’ he said. “So it was extremely expensive. That’s all changed. Now if you want to start a podcast, other than buying the equipment, it’s essentially kind of a free thing. There’s really no barriers to entry.’’
Bye started the media production company in 2012 called the WL Media Group in which he grew one of the company’s brands, the WL SportsNet, into a prosperous business.
The podcast started with a motto that read, “Showcasing all that is good in Huntsville,” but has since taken on a more regional philosophy. The “Our Town Podcast” wants to cover all of North Alabama and hopes listeners view the host as “someone who’s trying to throw my arms around this community now in which I live,” he said.
Bye books the guests, does the research, clips, promotions and the post production work.
“It’s kind of a one-man show,” he said.