Admiration and respect for one another, deep knowledge of their industry, and a passion for telling stories are just a few things you will discover about the hosts of Heads in the Cloud, a podcast created by telecommunications company Star2Star. Hosts David Portnowitz, John Roth, and Frederick Weiss handle all things marketing and creative for Star2Star when not working on the podcast. Star2Star’s President and Chief Revenue Officer Michele Accardi hosts occasional episodes for a special “Women in Tech” series, as well.
David is the leader of the group and the CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of the company, but his hosting duties are more fluid. John, SVP – Learning Management & Training, adds levity along with an insane depth of knowledge gained from his 37 years in the industry. (The video call for this interview revealed an old, working Bell Telephone sign that used to point the way to a telephone booth on the wall behind John. If you don’t know what Bell Telephone is, or a phone booth, reach out to John, and he will gladly share with you the history of the phone.) Frederick, Vice President and Creative Director, is the youngest of the group, and has hosted his own show, Thunder Nerds, since 2015.
Food and diners seem to be a common love for all three. John even has a dish featured in a Sarasota, Florida diner called “Crager’s” that doubles as their unofficial extra office. Imagine: meatloaf with eggs Benedict. Interesting combination, but that is exactly what these hosts are—an interesting combination.
Their love of food and fun takes a unique turn on the show with John’s critically important rotating closing questions to shake things up. One of those questions is, “What is your favorite sandwich?” A worthwhile ask, considering their show is all about communications… the world of Unified Communications, that is. Still, food is one of the oldest forms of communication. One episode saw them go on for about ten minutes on the merits of mayonnaise.
With their deep technical knowledge and expert interviewing skills, the trio brings a refreshing voice to technology and the Cloud. Witty repartee is not just reserved for the show—it is apparent they are the same on and off the air.
The idea for Heads in the Cloud was born at an event in San Francisco. The original hosts were David and one of the first ten employees at Star2Star, Graham Potter. Like John, Graham is a veteran in the field, and he and David plumbed the depths of their robust relationships in the industry to bring carefully chosen guests onto the show. Analysts, vendors, partners, and even customers of Star2Star began sharing their stories and parrying intellectual thrusts with the hosts, and they continue to do so today.
John took over when Graham retired, and then Frederick was added to round out the team. Their unique voices and diverse backgrounds make the show enjoyable to listen to even when the topics go deep.
David and John are that rare breed of Floridian natives… born, raised, and never left. Frederick is a transplant from New Jersey. All three are family men. David has begun collecting bourbon and has amassed a diverse assortment (the exception being a bottle of Pappy). Frederick was a musician who, in his younger days, was a lead singer in many bands. And John? Well, you can typically find him behind his Traeger grill or out on the waters of Lake Placid, Florida. He also enjoys water skiing, tubing, and boating with his wife, three kids, and five grandkids.
One theme runs through all of their individual stories featured on the show:
“Live life fully, because you are only here once. So enjoy!”
Their show reflects this theme as they weave curiosity, technical knowledge, and a killer line-up of guests from within the industry with whimsical moments, including guests’ answers to the age-old question that no one ever really knows they need the answer to: “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”
At the end of the day, Heads in the Cloud is a show about Cloud technology and Unified Communications.
Or is it?
Frederick says that their “rhythm was organic and immediate.”
Decide for yourself when you listen to the show. If you do, be prepared to laugh, be inspired, and learn a lot about technology in the Cloud and the people who make it all happen.
August 2021 Issue