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JJ Barnes The Table Read

Written by JJ Barnes

I interviewed Mike Jones about his career, what inspired him to create his podcast, AZ Brandcast, and what he hopes to achieve through podcasting.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Oh, this is always a tough question to answer: I’m a lot of things (maybe too many, some days)! At heart, I’m a teacher and strategist – specifically when it comes to branding. I love guiding people to build remarkable brands with depth, authenticity, and creativity.

Mike Jones, AZ Brandcast, podcaster interview on The Table Read
Mike Jones

I basically get to do what I love every day with the brands I’m building including Resound – the brand strategy agency I own and lead, AZ Brandcast – a podcast I host, and a whole host of other projects (Taftly, ThrivePHX, and PHX Startup Week).

But there’s a lot more to me than just work. I’m also a husband, father (of three), lover of history and coffee, and a bass guitarist.

Mockitt is where direct workflow, collaborative te

How and why did you start podcasting?

My first foray into podcasting was with my friend Chris Stadler. We were meeting up at coffee shops to talk about our shared passion for branding and marketing. Our scheduled one-hour chats would often extend way longer because we would get into such deep discussions. I think at one of these sessions I said, “we should probably just start recording these and publishing them as a podcast” and thus AZ Brandcast was born!

I’ve been hooked ever since. We’ve kept AZ Brandcast going for over 4 years now, have expanded it to include others through an interview format, and I’ve even started another podcast since then. In the last few years we’ve had som amazing conversations with business leaders from brands like State Forty Eight, Local First Arizona, the Better Business Bureau, Goodmans, WebPT, CULT Coffee, and so many others.

For me, podcasting is this fantastic way to get ideas out quickly especially in a conversational way. I’m definitely a verbal kind of person and getting in front of a mic, having a conversation, or just thinking out loud is a really natural way for me to ideate and brainstorm.

And I’m a big fan of listening to podcasts too. Whether it’s history, political analysis, business management, or theology – I’ve pretty much always got a podcast going on my commutes, traveling, and even doing chores around the house.

What is your current podcast called, and how did you come up with the name?

We came up for the name of AZ Brandcast pretty simply: it’s all about uncovering Arizona’s brand through the brands that call Arizona home. We bring on business leaders – startup founders, CEOs, and community leaders – and talk to them about their perspective of building a brand in Arizona and what’s made it such a great place to do business.

What platforms can we find AZ Brandcast on?

We’re on most of the major podcast directories (Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Pandora). We also have our own website where we have every AZ Brandcast episode available to listen to (as well as transcripts and supplemental content).

What is AZ Brandcast about?

AZ Brandcast is all about brands and Arizona. Each episode we bring on a guest – usually a leader of a locally-based business – and we talk about the story of building their brand, the successes and challenges they’ve faced, how being in Arizona has impacted their growth, and how they got to where they are today. It’s a super laid-back, conversational show. We liken it to listening in on a coffee shop conversation.

As we’ve gone along over the years, we’ve picked up on some themes about Arizona and the business community here and we work to add those insights into the conversation.

Each episode runs about an hour, sometimes a little less, and we try to keep it pretty raw without too much editing. There’s some great little tangents and interesting side conversations that we get into that really make each episode more personal and intimate.

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Do you host AZ Brandcast alone, or have guest hosts/partners?

For most episodes we have two hosts – myself and Chris Stadler. Sometimes with scheduling issues I do it alone or we bring in our producer (Sam Pagel) to add some commentary as well. Having a co-host is a blast for me. I love the camaraderie that comes with a good co-host (and friend) and it adds something to the conversation and keeps things interesting.

Do you edit AZ Brandcast or have someone who does it for you?

Mike Jones, AZ Brandcast, podcaster interview on The Table Read

I don’t personally edit the episodes anymore but we have a producer (Sam Pagel) who does the editing. Sam’s a great editor and producer. Chris and I used to do the editing ourselves, early on in the history of the show, and let’s just say we’re super glad to have a real professional doing it now! (And I’m betting our listeners appreciate it too.)

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Do you script AZ Brandcast, or just chat as you go?

We try not to have the show too scripted as that allows the conversation to flow and we can get into some topics we might not have planned for. That said, I do create a general guide for the interviews with some questions for our guest already written down. This just helps me make sure we keep things going and don’t get stuck. This also helps me remember if there’s anything really interesting about our guest that I want to make sure we hit on and talk about. I try to get deeper than just the standard, “who are you and what do you do” type of questions. With a little bit of homework ahead of time I can usually find some really interesting things to talk about from their history or their company’s past.

How has AZ Brandcast changed or developed since you began?

The podcast has changed so much – in a lot of ways. Not least, our production quality is SO much better now (thanks Sam!). And our episode format is another big aspect that’s changed. We started as just Chris and I riffing on branding and marketing topics together. And then we started doing interviews with guests. We even did some live interviews at a conference which was super fun! Now we really only do the in-studio interviews.

Through it all we’ve really had the same purpose: get to understand Arizona’s brand identity through the lens of local businesses here. That’s been our theme since the beginning and I still love it.

What are your biggest challenges with AZ Brandcast?

Our biggest challenge is finding time to record, honestly! We’d love to be doing a lot more interviews (and we have plenty of people who want to come on the show) and we’d even like to try some other types of podcast content but scheduling can be a real challenge especially when you’re trying to match up schedules between four or five different people. This isn’t our full-time gig for any of us so we’re always trying to squeeze things in around other projects. In 2022 we’re planning to switch things up a bit and create a different format for the show with some more commentary and bring in another host to add some different flavor to the show.

What are your favourite podcasts to listen to?

Oh there’s so many! Here’s my top five right now (and you’ll definitely find a bias towards history and business podcasts):

Revolutions by Mike Duncan

Fall of Civilizations by Paul Cooper

2Bobs with David C Baker and Blair Enns

Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

How and where do you promote AZ Brandcast?

We promote primarily through podcast directories, social media, email, and with our guests’ own networks.

Do you earn money from podcasting, or is it a hobby?

We don’t earn money directly from this podcast. We’ve had a couple sponsors in the past but primarily this is an extension of my passions as well as my brand strategy business. The people we invite on and the things we learn from them are fantastic research for my own work with clients.

What’s something you never expected about podcasting? What have you learned that surprised you?

I don’t think I expected how easy it would be to get people to say ‘yes’ to coming on the podcast to talk with us. I think I had it built up in my head that we had to be super ‘legit’ (whatever that means) before we could ask people. And I’ve been consistently surprised each time someone says they’ll join us. It’s been fantastic talking with so many great business leaders from around the state of Arizona.

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What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to start podcasting?

Not to be cliche, but just start doing it. There’s so many tools now to make it so easy. And it’s a great way to start developing your own thinking around different topics and even developing your own brand whether that’s for your business, for your career, in a hobby, or some other passion that you have.

And, finally, are you proud of what you’re accomplishing with your podcast? Is it worth the effort?

Podcasting has absolutely been worth it. I’ve learned so much from the people we interview, the process, and even just the preparation for each episode. Learning new things is such a passion for me and AZ Brandcast has absolutely allowed me yet another opportunity to learn and grow.

I’m currently writing a book about branding (called “ and doing the podcast has absolutely provided me with a much deeper understanding of business and branding to be able to make my book even richer. I’m so glad I’ve put in the effort on the podcast – for sure.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

If you want to find out more about me and what I’m up to, these links should do the trick:

My brand consultancy, Resound:

Personal website:




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