• Dusty Weis

Lead Balloon Becomes the First Podcast to Fly with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Award-Winning PR and Marketing Storytelling Podcast Embeds with and Profiles the Blue Angels Public Affairs Team, Records Jet Ride-Along as a Podcasting "First"


MILWAUKEE, CHICAGO, PENSACOLA—A marketing and public relations storytelling podcast has achieved a historic first for the podcasting medium, embarking on a ride-along with the famed U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron at the unit’s Pensacola, Fla. headquarters.



Hosted by PR practitioner and former journalist Dusty Weis, the Lead Balloon Podcast chronicles the high-stakes stories that define public relations and marketing careers, parsing behind-the-scenes lessons from professional communicators at some of the world’s most influential brands.


“For years, the ‘Blue Angels ride-along’ has been a tried-and-true media relations tactic for the unit,” Weis says. “It’s a fitting testament to the growth of podcasting’s influence that we were allowed to partake of such an incredible experience and share it with our growing podcast audience.”


Produced at Milwaukee-based podcast production studio Podcamp Media, Lead Balloon has been nominated for a Webby Award and honored by Adweek as “Marketing Podcast of the Year.”

“The Blue Angels are not just the world’s most well-known group of elite performing aviators; they’re also an elite public relations and marketing operation,” Weis says. “After embedding with the Blue Angels public affairs team, I can safely say that there is no more intense and high-stakes strategic communications initiative in the world, and the rest of us in this field have lots to learn from them.”


“The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron has a remarkable story. Since we launched this podcast 35 episodes ago, I’ve wanted to tell the story of the people who tell that story, so to speak. It was a tremendous honor and an eye-opening experience to be invited in to do that.”


The first segment of the two-part Blue Angels podcast feature on Lead Balloon will be released on Tuesday, October 4. In the episode, Dusty and the crew from Podcamp Media embed with the Blue Angels public affairs team at the Chicago Air and Water Show, and learn how they do their jobs.


Dusty is surprised to learn that Blue Angels public affairs specialists not only handle standard duties, like coordinating with news reporters and posting to social media sites. But they also regularly ride along in the Blue Angels fighter jets to capture images and video of the team in action, and are subjected to the same grueling flight conditions as the pilots.


In the second segment, which will be released on Tuesday, November 1, Dusty travels to Pensacola to see if he has what it takes to work under those same brutal conditions. He is paired with Blue Angels #7 pilot Lt. Commander Griffin Stangel for a once-in-a-lifetime fighter jet ride-along.


“I couldn’t believe how physically demanding it is to simply ride as a passenger in one of those jets,” Weis says. “I have a new respect for the tremendous abilities, conditioning, precision and professionalism that these Blue Angels pilots and public affairs staff display every day in their work.”


An abridged version of the Lead Balloon Blue Angels episodes will also be released as a video mini-doc on Podcamp’s YouTube channel on November 1.



A Note on the Designation: “First Podcast to Fly with the Blue Angels”


Podcamp makes the claim that Lead Balloon is “the first podcast to fly with the Blue Angels” based on a rigorous search of the internet, podcast platforms and YouTube, which did not turn up a single instance of a podcaster engaging in a Blue Angels ride-along and using the footage to produce a podcast episode.


Podcamp’s search did turn up one instance on YouTube of an “influencer” engaging in a Blue Angels ride-along, and that influencer also hosts a separate podcast, but no footage from the ride-along was used to produce an episode of that podcast.


The Blue Angels public affairs team was unable to confirm or deny whether any other podcaster has previously flown a ride-along, because—to paraphrase— “a lot of people have podcasts.” But they were unable to cite examples of other ride-along participants who were invited because they were podcasters.


Accordingly, Podcamp Media chose to claim the designation “the first podcast to fly with the Blue Angels,” and NOT “the first podcaster to fly with the Blue Angels.”


“Let’s skip right past the part where we debate the ‘what is a podcaster?’ conundrum, and just let me have this one, okay folks?” Weis says.


Launched in 2019, Podcamp Media is a media production agency specializing in branded podcasts for businesses. From its podcast studio in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Podcamp helps companies and associations engage their customers and members through targeted storytelling.


Podcamp Media’s flagship clients include globally-recognized brands like Nutrien Ag Solutions, Provide, SurePayroll, the National Corn Growers Association and the State of Wisconsin Investment Board. Podcamp also partners on a pro-bono basis with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Milwaukee.


Listen and subscribe to Lead Balloon at podcampmedia.com/leadballoon, or on your favorite podcast app. Follow @PodcampMedia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok.


For more information, contact: Dusty Weis, President of Podcamp Media 414-215-0501 dusty at podcampmedia.com


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