The first episode of the Peak City Podcast begins with a guest who demonstrates the medium’s value: J.C. Knowles of the Apex Downtown Business Association, whose booming baritone and Piedmont accent doesn’t translate into print.
The podcast, launched by Apex resident Shane Reese in mid-Octobers, focuses on the events and personalities of Apex’s downtown, where he lives, works, and records the show.
Reese, 36, works for a nonprofit advocacy group but has a background in radio. He decided to put his old radio equipment to work to share stories and news about the town he cares so much about.
Podcasts are radio-style programs recorded and packaged for download over the internet, rather than being broadcast at a set time over the airwaves.
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“More than anything, this is about getting it right and recording stories that people want to listen to – not just doing it for the sake of doing it,” Reese said. “Right now, I’m thinking there might be 10 or 20 of these podcasts a year, and it may increase if this is something that catches on.”
In addition to conversational interviews with downtown business owners, such as Common Grounds Coffee’s Mark Porcelli, a December episode featured a descriptive bulletin of various holiday events in downtown Apex, more in the style of a conventional radio newscast. So far, episodes have ranged in length from four to 22 minutes long.
We talked to Reese to learn more about the show.
Q: How did you get into podcasting?
Reese: I am absolutely not a journalist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a background in broadcasting. I was with Curtis Media Group. They own a series of radio stations here in the Triangle. I was on air for a bit as a radio host, talking about policy, politics in North Carolina. That’s where I caught the radio bug.
Q: What’s your relationship to Apex?
Reese: I’m originally from Ohio, but I got here as soon as I could. I’m actually an Apex High School grad, so this is a bit of a homecoming. I’m also an N.C. State grad. (Apex) is just a welcoming place, whether you’re from Ohio or Florida or any other part of the country. That’s part of what makes Apex great.
Q: What do you hope people get out of the show?
Reese: This is more than anything an opportunity to bridge the old and the new in town, and it’s also an opportunity for people outside of Apex to get to know Apex. It’s a way for people to know that we welcome friends and fans alike. It’s such a diverse town – age groups, backgrounds, cultures. And even with so many people moving here from everywhere, people are moving here for that friendliness.
Q: What can you do with a podcast that, for instance, a newspaper can’t?
Reese: Print, radio and television all have their place in getting to know your own community. But from a radio perspective, I do think it’s valuable for people to hear conversations and to hear it in a way that is the same way you and I are talking right now. You’re going to hear Southern accents, Midwestern accents, Northeastern accents, and once again, those are all valuable to us here in Apex.
This is absolutely not a replacement for journalism in any way. In fact, I hope it augments current journalistic efforts. This podcast is about meeting and getting to know your neighbors. That’s really the concept behind it – putting a name and a face to the restaurant that opened up or the new park that’s about to break ground.
Q: It’s clear you want to celebrate Apex, but do you also hope to turn a critical eye to the town? What are some problems facing Apex that your podcast might tackle?
Reese: Growth and traffic. Those two subjects are at the center of the conversations we need to be having. We need to have open lines of communication about what our vision is for this town, and I do think that the town leadership has done a great job of listening and talking with – not just talking to – the residents of Apex.
But no town’s going to go from 40,000 people to 80,000 people without encountering some challenges along the way. That’s part of what I hope this podcast does – maintains and continues those kinds of conversations.
Gargan: 919-460-2604; @hgargan