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Keeping “the Austinticity” in Austin, TX with TJ Wendel’s Bar Austin Podcast

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What we consider as part of our culture is constantly changing. Mostly, it is shaped by how accessible and how binge-worthy it can be especially to the younger ones. It can be a dance hit on Tiktok, a travel vlog, or a lifestyle Podcast. In this digital age, culture varies but one thing makes it distinct – authenticity (Austinticity). This is what Timothy J. Wendel II or TJ aims to establish with his very own project, the Bar Austin Podcast.

TJ was born and raised in Austin, Texas. But he had to leave home and experience a near-death accident before coming across his own way of promoting his hometown’s culture. In 2007, he enlisted in the military and took part in a radioactive rescue operation in Japan in 2011. After his honorable discharge, he got broke to the point that he had to rely on sheer luck by playing slot machines in a casino. He walked into the casino only with a jar full of change, but eventually came out of it in a car on his way home to Austin.

However, what really turned his life 180 degrees was when TJ encountered a motorcycle accident in January 2019. He was back in town for good and was riding his motorcycle when a car swerved in his lane. He lost total control of his motorbike and spiraled before crashing the pavement headfirst. The impact threw him 100 feet away from his bike. He was found unconscious and was in a coma for 5 days. By some miracle, none of his bones were broken.

But he wasn’t left unscathed after that. TJ suffered from a brain trauma injury. He has a hard time remembering things and controlling his thoughts. But TJ has not given up. He has found a new love for his hometown since he’s been back for good. He realized that Austin has its own charm that both locals and visitors alike should see and enjoy. Thus after 8.5 years and 3 failed attempts at business, TJ launched the “Bar Austin Podcast” in December 2019.

This passion project was initially titled “Bar Austin”. It later adopted its current name with the help of his business partner, Sean Mullin. Of course he hails from Austin, Texas too. But he’s also a talented musician making him the perfect co-host for TJ. As they are both natives, they promise to boost the “Austinticity”. This is their branding for a fresh and authentic perspective on their hometown. Their topics cover almost anything under the sun about Austin, Texas. No stone is unturned as they try to keep it interesting by inviting guests to their shows. Indeed they “preserve Austinticity, Protect Austin’s Austinness, and Keep Austin…Austin.”

Bar Austin Podcast has a target audience of natives, locals, and “transplants” within their town. This project offers a contemporary look at their town culture. More importantly, it lays out a digital and easily accessible platform that the broader population can enjoy.

TJ, however, doesn’t stop at just sharing his love and passion for his city. He also shares his personal advocacy to the users and listeners of Bar Austin Podcast. It adapted a listener-supported system where for every dollar earned, a portion of it is donated to different non-profit organizations in Austin. The first of many of these organizations is the National Awareness in Mental Illness (NAMI). It is a non-profit organization that raises awareness of brain tumor injury and other mental illnesses.

The Bar Austin Podcast endeavors to make it to the Top 5 Podcasts aired throughout Central Texas. This goal is not overstretched as they truly endeavor to make their content more creative and better in each episode. With this project, TJ has also helped redefine the culture of his locale by contributing his story of resilience and charity.

This project attests that authenticity does not only mean sticking to what is already there. It can also mean adding improvements and letting others know how they can join in this effort. For tourists and locals alike who are curious about the “Austinticity”, listen to the podcast here: Bar Austin Podcast in Austin, Texas.

CEO of Penske Media Group. Experienced Content Editor with a demonstrated history of working in the newspapers industry. Spoken on stages around the globe - NYU, US Embassy, P&G Toronto and much more.

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