March 2020, Vol. 247, No. 3

Executive Profile

Pipeliners Podcast: Education Through Conversation

Over the last decade, podcasts have emerged as a popular form of distributing audio content to a broad, international public that covers specialized topics. In November 2017, the Pipeliners Podcast became the first such podcast focused on pipelining.

In this interview with Pipeline & Gas Journal, Pipeliners Podcast Founder and Host Russel Treat shares his thoughts on the podcast’s origins, growth, listener feedback and more.


P&GJ: How did you, personally, become involved in pipelines?

Treat: I originally got involved in oil and gas through measurement. Then, measurement led to doing data collection, and data collection led to doing HMIs [human-machine interfaces], and HMIs led to doing SCADA systems, and SCADA led to doing pipelines, control rooms and leak detection. Really, that’s how I found my way to pipelines and that’s the business where I decided to make my career.


P&GJ: What caused you to decide you wanted to host a podcast about pipelines?

Treat: I was a podcast listener early on. I found the format very engaging, particularly when listening to someone dive deep into a subject that interested me. After a few years of listening to podcasts, I got this idea for a podcast name. I thought Pipeliners Podcast was catchy. But, I didn’t really have any idea how to start the process. After another year-and-a-half of research, I came up with the core idea and decided to start.

I learned the pipeline business by going to tradeshows and short courses, finding the experts and asking lots of questions. So, the core idea for the podcast is to have conversations where I am learning, and others learn by listening. I decided to start with people and subjects I knew something about, and then move to those subjects where I was a novice at best.


P&GJ: Do you have any previous experience with developing podcasts, or any background in radio and television?

Treat: I don’t really have experience in podcasting or radio or TV, per se. I did deejay on a radio station in college for a brief period of time. But I do have a lot of experience with public speaking, platform speaking and speaking to large audiences. It’s something that’s always come easy to me.


P&GJ: You’ve had a wide range of impressive guests so far. How do you go about selecting your guests for the podcasts?

Treat:  I’m blessed to know a lot of people in the industry. I started by going to people I know personally, who are experts in domains I am familiar with. From there, I started networking, asking for introductions to experts in fields I wanted to learn about, like inline inspection. Now, people are reaching out and asking to join the conversation, which is very rewarding.

There are many interesting subjects and many experts in each domain of our business. We’re just getting started with all that people might contribute, and that listeners would like to learn about.


P&GJ: What kind of feedback do you get from your listeners? Do they offer suggestions?

Treat: There is a Contact Us page on the podcast website at and I’m quite active on LinkedIn, so I’ve heard from listeners in both of those contexts. The comments have been universally positive.

When I receive recommendations for topics or subjects, I often go back to those listeners who have reached out and ask, ‘Well, who do you know that’s an expert, and how do I get in touch with them?’ In some cases, I’ve been able to close the loop on that. Overall, the development of the podcast and the development of the guests have been quite organic. I simply follow my curiosity and that seems to work.


P&GJ: If you could interview anyone associated with the pipeline industry, who would that be?

Treat: I think what I’m looking for, primarily, is people who have a story to share that is going to benefit the listeners.

As an example, most notable so far is Larry Shelton’s story in Episode 79. Larry shared his personal experience with the Bellingham incident [1999 rupture of the Olympic Pipeline]. While the details are quite informative, the most compelling part is how Larry shares the personal, emotional impact Bellingham had on him and his resulting commitment to pipeline safety. I’ve had quite a few listeners share with me how they were impacted by Larry’s story, and how it re-ignited their passion. Pipeline safety is a mission, and it’s a mission worth having.


P&GJ: Why did you think that the Pipeliners Podcast has been so well received?

Treat: For me, pipelining is a special business. Pipelines are ubiquitous, but we’re a smaller community, and to a large degree, we’re really spread out. As a result, pipeliners are often isolated from their peers. While I was fortunate early in my career to travel and attend a large number of conferences, many in our business do not have that opportunity. 

In my experience, pipeliners want to stay current on technology developments, learn about aspects of the business they do not work in, and stay current on regulatory rulemaking. The Pipeliners Podcast is the place you come to gain information and be part of a community interested in similar things.


P&GJ: Why emphasize “educating and informing” through conversation?

Treat: Pipelining is a complex and highly technical business, and you can never stop learning. I love that people in our business are willing to share and give back to the next generation. That is how I learned. 

Ultimately, the goal is to pass along experience to the next generation of pipeliners.

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