Death, innovation and a boon in podcasts might best mark 2020.
There have been dozens of startup podcasts on southern Vancouver Island since the digital format of on-demand radio became popular more than a decade ago. Students use them for school projects, while organization such as the Chamber of Commerce created Chamber Chats as a tool to connect with the community.
“I was missing conversations the I used to have all the time about community building and placemaking that were cut off by COVID-19,” said Dean Murdock, the former Saanich councillor whose new podcast Amazing Places focuses on urban placemaking. “My partner said, ‘do a podcast,’ I think, as a chance for her to get a break from me nattering about this stuff to her, but she’s right.”
Murdock’s dropped 22 Amazing Places podcasts since he started in July. His show takes a focus on placemaking, infill and density housing, the redesign of roads, and more. They come out weekly (usually on Fridays) and he’s topped 1,000 listeners.
His guests are predominantly Greater Victoria locals, such as Todd Litman of the Victoria Transit Policy Institute doing a deep dive on the real cost of free parking in urban planning, or Colwood Coun. Gordie Logan, who talked about how close the vote is in Colwood on the debate to prioritize Ocean Boulevard as a highway or close it to cars as a destination for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Initially, it was about the changes in the community as a result of pandemic and it blossomed as I built a network of connections with people who I wanted to have on,” Murdock said. “When I started in July, at that point, major topics were pandemic patios, and creating public spaces, major changes during the pandemic.”
Matt Dell and Jeremy Caradonna, a pair of government employees who are also musicians, missed out on the conversations they were having after evening jam sessions. To fill the gap, they started the Best Coast Political Podcast, and join the likes of the Out of Left Field as a local, politically-focused show that’s run independent of media.
What also makes them stand out is that they are completely non-profit, filling a niche for local politics and community building that all three want to hear more about. With the ongoing lockdown and the availability of the technology, it was only a matter of time, said Caradonna.
Can the region tackle climate change, transportation and pandemic recovery with a collective voice? This week @crd_bc Board Chair & @saanich Councillor @ColinPlant2018 joins the podcast #yyj #Saanich #bcmuni #localgov https://t.co/f29RPHzH2j— Amazing Places (@amazin_places) December 4, 2020
“The response is way bigger and better than we thought it would be,” Caradonna said. “It’s way more than we thought we’d get, and we’re getting emails and social media messages from politicos, local politicians, that they’re listening.”
Lisa, Gene, and Eric— Ruth Kiechle (she/her) (@RuthInCanada) December 18, 2020
U in the ring
Taking up space
Vital Victoria Podcast
The Veracity Podcast
The homeless idea
How I did it
I am sure there are many more :-) pic.twitter.com/wvqWdj83IR
Their first episode talked politics with veteran press gallery reporter Richard Zussman and their second looked at homelessness with Victoria Coun. Sarah Potts and local documentary filmmaker Krista Loughton.
“It’s meant to be the kind of conversation you would have at the pub with your friends, exploring issues and talking about things [in a safe way] you’re afraid to put on social media,” Dell said. “Jeremy and I had so many of those conversations, we would hang out and go at it, and after, we’d say, damn that was nice and cathartic.”
Online, you’re either in your own echo chamber of like-minded individuals or facing off with uncivil keyboard warriors acting without impunity, Caradonna said, but eye to eye, people will use some level of decorum and respect.
Locally, there are plenty of podcasts to check out. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps is part of a podcast called the Lisa, Gene and Eric podcast, with Gene Miller and Eric Bramble. Visit this story online for more.
(Travis Paterson has been a guest on the Amazing Places and Best Coast Political podcasts).