We stepped up our podcast game this year.
In July, we launched I Made it in San Diego, a podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them. It’s more than a straightforward interview show: we spend hours editing each story, adding voiceover narration and taking time to drill into the moments where local business owners seek funding, make a tough sale and watch orders come in for the first time. Many of the folks we’ve talked to so far have carved their way toward success in a series of fits and starts, hitting just as many lows as highs.
We also built out the Voice of San Diego Podcast Network, an affiliation of podcasts produced in San Diego that cover local topics and share resources and support. The network now includes four in-house productions – the Voice of San Diego Podcast, I Made it in San Diego, Good Schools for All and San Diego Culturecast – plus The Kept Faith sports podcast, the Cura Caos live podcast featuring interviews with creative people from San Diego and Baja California, San Diego BeerTalk Radio about the city’s vibrant beer scene and Startup Vault, a show featuring interviews with San Diego entrepreneurs.
We’re proud of the work we’re doing in the podcast realm. Here, we’ve collected the five most memorable episodes we produced in 2017.
An investigation into the Sweetwater Union High School District superintendent eventually snowballed into a massive scandal that resulted in convictions for several school leaders and dominated the news for years. But there was a story behind all those stories that had yet to be told. In a special episode of our Good Schools for All education podcast, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reached out to the six persistent parents and community members who set the scandal in motion by demanding accountability. Through a series of in-depth interviews that were later weaved together with narration and clips of other media coverage, McGlone let the community leaders tell their stories in their own words.
Judi Sheppard Missett didn’t set out to build a fitness empire. When she moved to Oceanside after college, she was trying to make it as a theater actress and just wanted to teach classes — a modified jazz dance workout she invented — on the side. But her classes were an instant hit, and Missett eventually turned the classes into Jazzercise, a fitness company that currently has over 8,000 franchisees worldwide in 32 countries. In this episode of I Made it in San Diego, VOSD’s Sara Libby draws the Jazzercise origin story out of Missett, touching on both the good decisions and luck that helped build the business, and the challenges that threatened its growth, including a lawsuit over how instructors were required to look, and the eventual stigma that Jazzercise was old-fashioned. Libby’s mom, a longtime Jazzercise practitioner, even makes a charming cameo.
In 2015, Voice of San Diego took a week to explain some of the region’s long-running civic tensions and the political characters behind them. We called it Beef Week, and this year we brought the concept back for an episode of our weekly political affairs podcast. The episode showcases how hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby make political affairs fun, in this case with an entertaining rundown of all the beefs brewing among San Diego leaders. It’s a good example of how listeners can catch up on a lot of local news in a few minutes.
Local buskers – artists and musicians who perform on city streets and sidewalks to earn cash from passersby – say they’re too often at odds with the San Diego Police Department. This year, many of them signed an online petition and showed up to a City Council meeting to ask elected leaders for help. In this episode of Culturecast, I talked to buskers who think city policies need to change so San Diego’s street culture can thrive. A few months after I recorded the show, one of the buskers I talked to, a guitar player in Balboa Park known as Big Slim, died. I’m glad I got the chance to get his voice and music on tape.
Back in 2005, Michael Zucchet took a shocking and unexpected detour from his role as a prominent San Diego politician. He was forced to resign his seat on the City Council after being slammed with dozens of corruption charges involving a Las Vegas businessman – allegations he denied from the start. He was eventually acquitted due to the lack of evidence against him. In an episode of the weekly Voice of San Diego Podcast, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts talked to Zucchet about the toll that the case took on his personal and professional life and his second act in San Diego politics.