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Roundtable: Podcasting in San Diego

Speaker 1: (00:01)

This week on round table, we're putting traditional media on pause and pressing play on a couple of locally produced podcasts from an accessible casual look at civic engagement to a completely unnecessary look at modern and retro gaming. It's a special episode. All about podcasting in San Diego. I'm Matt Hoffman, and this is K P S round table

Speaker 1: (00:32)

This week on round table. We're mixing it up a bit by putting the news of the week aside and focusing on how we consume our content it's Christmas weekend and maybe Santa brought you some new headphones. That's why we want to use this episode to show some love to a couple of podcasts produced right here in San Diego. A bit later, we'll dive into the world of gaming and meet a local podcast host who has built a strong following rooted in Nintendo nostalgia. First, we're starting with a fresh young approach to civic engagement in San Diego as San Diego, 1 0 1 proves you don't need a poly sci professor op-ed columns or old school TV news anchors to be connected with how our city works. Here's

Speaker 2: (01:10)

The trailer, San Diego 1 0 1 is like your friend. Who's really good at explaining complicated stuff. And doesn't judge you or make fun of you for not understanding what's going on. We're gonna teach you things

Speaker 3: (01:19)

And learn things together about how an entire region operates. And also we're not judgy at all.

Speaker 2: (01:28)

Every two weeks, we'll be in your feed, breaking down big topics that impact your life every day. And also things people have asked us to look into police power and equity city council. What's the city council member she'll need to be here. Actually are you asked her to vote? There are a lot of big confusing agencies, issues and operations in San Diego that make the whole region go. And this is your guide county government board of supervisors. Okay? Here's what the

Speaker 3: (01:53)

County is. Here's what they do. Here's why there's five of 'em redistricting

Speaker 2: (01:56)

Commissions. Redistricting tells you where the goal post is. The referee is going to be how the game is going to be played.

Speaker 4: (02:02)

School board, a bunch of black people going into our schools and on our street. And they were crying about

Speaker 2: (02:09)

It with San Diego, 1 0 1, you'll be able to understand how the whole San Diego region works. That's stuff that affects over 3 million people. You're going to get some basic answers and a foundation of knowledge and simple language, no jargon, at least no jargon that we're not going to explain right away. So you'll be able to plug into the news and elections and just get it a lot more. Yes, they don't need a political science degree. They don't need any of that. I don't have any of that. I have a bachelor of fine arts and dance. I'm Maya. I made Joran from voice of San Diego, subscribe to

Speaker 3: (02:40)

San Diego. One, the one, wherever you get your podcast.

Speaker 1: (02:45)

And we have both Adriana Haldi and Maya. She Christiann Ron Roundtable for our special podcaster episode. And welcome back to you both. Thanks

Speaker 2: (02:52)

For having us. Thank

Speaker 1: (02:53)

You. All right. Let's start with Adriana. What's the origin story for this podcast? How did voice of San Diego decide to make this a show?

Speaker 5: (03:01)

Yeah, so part of our mission, uh, voice of San Diego is to increase, uh, civic participation by explaining, uh, how our region works so that residents can become advocates of local issues that they're really passionate about. And so with San Diego, 1 0 1, we started it off as a video series back in 2020, uh, and ever since it's grown to include multiple videos, explainers, and now a new podcast

Speaker 1: (03:28)

And Maya, you have reported for voice of San Diego for several years. You've covered issues ranging from north county to immigration and even local politics. And for a while, you were doing those San Diego reports in partnership with NBC seven. Uh, is this a bit of a continuation of that idea to make this information as accessible to those who maybe aren't like policy wants? Yes,

Speaker 2: (03:48)

Definitely. Um, as Adriana mentioned, you know, part of our mission has always been civic education and we've, you know, gone through many different iterations of how to fulfill that part of, of our mission as an organization. So the San Diego explained, um, segments that we did with NBC were, you know, one way of doing that. And then, you know, once we got Adrian on board, she's very talented at making videos and, and things like that. And so, um, we started making our own videos, explaining things that we thought people needed to, to even be able to understand our stories and our content let alone, whatever else is going on in the city.

Speaker 1: (04:26)

All right. Here's a question for both of you, of the episodes that you guys have done so far. Is there one that you personally learned the most from, be it in your research or even from the people you talk to on an Adriana? I will start with you first.

Speaker 5: (04:37)

Yeah, I, I really enjoyed, well, I like all the so , uh, but I really enjoyed our who polices the police episode. Not only did we explain how different law enforcements work and what type of oversight there is in place for police officers to make sure that they're doing the job properly, but we also had the chance to speak to two family members of victims, of police brutality in San Diego. So it was very important for us to include their voices

Speaker 1: (05:05)

And Maya. What about you?

Speaker 2: (05:06)

So the episode I'm gonna talk about is actually one that hasn't come out yet, but it's gonna be the next one to come out. It's going to be called a short history of San Diego politics, but I really learned a lot from this. I only moved to San Diego in 2015 and, you know, as I started covering things or even trying to follow local news, there were all these players. And even just certain ways that the city functioned, you know, the way the city council was structured, the way the county was structured. A lot of those things happened for a reason. They happened because certain people did certain things 10 or 20 years ago. Um, there were certain scandals, certain policy decisions, certain personas that kind of shaped where we are today. And I think understanding some of that stuff is really helpful when you are trying to understand how decisions get made in the, the city and county,

Speaker 1: (05:58)

Your guys' outlet is called voice of San Diego. And that's a really big part of San Diego, 1 0 1 real San Diego voices. You make a point to include them in explaining these ideas and processes that can otherwise be really dry. Here's a portion of an episode about voting by mail. I

Speaker 6: (06:14)

Get these calls from people and they're like, Hey, I have this male ballot, but I don't know who this judge is. Like, we can vote for judges. And I'm like, yes, like yes. Like we can, you know, and I'm like having like sit down in like living rooms or like we outside on the block and there's like Hennessy being passed around, but people have male ballots and just these small little things. Um, and I see people, I don't know, I just see it. Things are like happening the looks and people's faces is no longer just despair, but you kind of see those like glimmers of hope, every so often you like, that's, that's, that's kinda like what I live for.

Speaker 1: (07:11)

Definitely like that nice background music in there too. But Maya, can you explain who that was and why you wanted his voice as part of this show?

Speaker 2: (07:18)

So that was Aaron Harvey. Uh, he is a community activist from Southeastern San Diego, Aaron, uh, dealt with a very serious criminal case against him and several other men from Southeast San Diego several years ago when he ended up spending time in jail for something that he didn't do. Uh, it's a very complicated story, I, which I won't go into now, but, um, there's lots of good reporting, including from KPBS on it. Um, but we really wanted his voice on the show because Aaron was, is really an example of someone who was really just a normal person from historically under surf neighborhood who really didn't pay attention to local government at all. And, you know, the decisions that were being made and then suddenly found his life completely upended by decisions that were made by the district attorney, by something that was passed in a ballot or decades ago.

Speaker 2: (08:22)

And after that happened to him, he spent a lot of time unpacking those decisions and how they came about. And that's ultimately what turned him into an activist to kind of start trying to change those systems a little bit more. And I think, you know, that can really happen to anybody. And it really does happen all the time. You know, decisions that are being made at the city and county and state level are impacting us all the time. Yet, most people are really paying more attention to what's happening at the federal government and how the federal government works. And so, you know, we really wanted to bring his voice into the podcast to kind of show that, Hey, you can just be going around, minding your business. And something that happens in local government can really impact your life and chances are like, it will.

Speaker 1: (09:09)

And Adriana. There's also some San Diego, 1 0 1 videos on the voice of San Diego, YouTube, a age, what can people find

Speaker 5: (09:15)

There? We explain what the city charter is, how parents can pick the best schools for their kids. What a big of a role surveillance plays in our city. Some of the policies that are used to criminalize homelessness in San Diego, and much more

Speaker 1: (09:32)

Politics seem to dominate the news, especially over the last five years or so yet. Voter turnout is still not at the level that indicates people from all demographics are participating fully and doing this podcast. Are you all learning more about why people choose not to get involved? And both of you feel free to answer on this one?

Speaker 5: (09:48)

Adrian, do you wanna go first? Yeah. I mean, there, there's several reasons why people, you know, might not want to get involved. I think one of the biggest misconception is that residents don't care about local government, but they do. I think the way that it's presented to them, it's not always the easiest way to understand. And you know, one of the episodes that we did, we explained the difference between the, the city and the county of San Diego and some of the people that we interviewed for that who work at both those different governments. They even told us that they're learning every day, how it works, because it's just so complex. And, you know, it's just one of those things where we wanna help you get started, but it's gonna, it's obviously, you're, you're gonna learn, learn along the way. And you know, we don't judge anyone if, you know, if they decide that they don't wanna get involved or

Speaker 2: (10:33)

Anything like that. Yeah. And just to add on that, you know, we have realized, I think even before we started to Diego 1 0 1, that there are a lot of structural barriers and those can be things like language access. They could be lack of childcare, you know, to be able to go to a public meeting after work. Sometimes it's that public meetings are actually held during work hours. You know, the there's all sorts of barriers. Um, and one big barrier is information. And that's really what we're trying to address with the San Diego 1 0 1 series with the podcast, with the videos and with, you know, everything else that we will have coming in the next few years, you know, we are not part of the government, so we can't change some of the other, like when they schedule meetings and things like that. But at least we can help everyone understand who's making what decisions and what they can do to get

Speaker 1: (11:25)

Involved and Adriana what's the next episode gonna

Speaker 5: (11:28)

Be about. So, as Maya mentioned earlier, we're going to explain how San Diego has increasingly become a predominantly democratic city and region. And, and we're gonna look back at some of the events and some of the, the scandals in the last 20 years that let us here. So you can check that out San diego.org or wherever you get your podcasts.

Speaker 1: (11:48)

Well, we definitely look forward to hearing it Adriana Haldi and Maya. She Christian are the host of San Diego 1 0 1, a podcast by the voice of San Diego. And thank you both so much for being here. Thanks for having

Speaker 7: (11:59)

Us. Thank you so much.

Speaker 1: (12:06)

We can't do a show dedicated to podcasts without carving out some time to plug our own content. It's been a big year for Cape PBS podcasts, and that's thanks to you. Our listeners, of course, you can get our regular shows like K PBS midday edition and of course, round table, but that's far from what's on the menu. San Diego news now is a comprehensive recap of the news of the day, featuring original reporting from our newsroom. Beth Amando cinema junkie podcast is filled with movie reviews and used. It's a must listen to there's also the award-winning port of entry its episode on cross border love stories was our most listened to podcast of the year. We have nearly a dozen to choose from. All of it can be found at kpbs.org/podcasts, or you can search KPBS on Spotify, apple, or wherever you stream. Your favorite shows It's Christmas weekend. And that brings memories of holidays gone by part of the nostalgia, especially for those who grew up over the last 40 years has been video games from Atari to the PlayStation five gaming consoles are always one of the most wanted gifts. And that's why for a part of our special episode, dedicated to podcasters, we're talking with pat contrary, he's an accomplished writer, podcaster and YouTuber. Who's built a following based on his encyclopedic knowledge of retro gaming led by the completely unnecessary podcast,

Speaker 1: (13:52)

Pat contrary, and his co-host Ian Ferguson produced the completely necessary podcast right here in San Diego. Pat's YouTube channel, which includes the podcast and a whole lot more has a quarter of a million subscribers. Welcome to the show, pat. Thanks so much for making time for us. Thanks

Speaker 8: (14:07)

For having me PBS. I appreciate

Speaker 1: (14:09)

It. Let's start with the name. Very cool intro there. The completely unnecessary podcast. How would you describe it?

Speaker 8: (14:14)

The podcast or the, um, both, you, you know, podcasting is, is one of those sort of endeavors that when you, when you look at it, uh, on its surface, it it's almost exists in a zone of vacuum. You have to go out and find it. It's not like radio where, you know, it's already in everyone's cars, it's already attached to a bunch of devices with podcasts. You really to know where to search for them. And then it's sort of like a, an organic process, more so than anything else. So when, when we thought of, uh, doing the show, I thought of, well, no podcast is really necessary, is it? , they're very frivolous what we're doing. So it's completely unnecessary, especially talking about, you know, video games and pop culture as we do. I would not describe that as necessary at all. And, uh, especially, you know, with all controver that happen in the world of gaming and even, even the things we enjoy, it's, it really doesn't matter at the end of the day, even though people obviously let's into it and enjoy it and sort

Speaker 1: (15:11)

Of to your point, isn't it important to indulge in something completely unnecessary from time to time?

Speaker 8: (15:16)

Absolutely. Especially in the past couple of years, I think we all need some indulgence in fun activities and entertainment. And of course, video games is the biggest entertainment meeting in the world. Now, if you look at it from a dollar standpoint, I think it's asked, uh, movies several years back, at least maybe more. And it's, it's now grown generation and generation. So like your father or grandfather may not have played a lot of video games, but now everyone who's an adult grew up with video games and going forward, it's no longer going to be, not necessarily a, a children's entertainment medium, but it was once thought of that in the eighties. And probably even going into the nineties. Now it's for

Speaker 1: (15:56)

Everyone. Society is now somewhat back to normal since the first COVID shutdowns, but streaming and gaming were among the few areas to actually pick up during that time animal crossing for the Nintendo switch might be the game of quarantine. What do you think it is about these forms of entertainment that keeps bringing

Speaker 8: (16:11)

People back video games, allow you to explore themes times and places that you normally cannot. And, and it's, they're very accessible. Of course you can do that by reading a book, but Hey, who reads books anymore? Right? I'm talking to a publisher of a couple of ones , but, but something like animal crossing, it's a very social game. The new, new edition you're literally on vacation on an island. So it was almost like the perfect storm. It it, one of the few, uh, if you can call any silver lining from the pandemic, at least for Nintendo, since they sold, I think they've sold more than 30 million copies of the game. It, it really hit upon something that might not have been as big, had people not been locked in and forced to play a game like that. It still would've been a big game, but people wanted something to do, especially when that game came out earlier on in the pandemic in 2020 and video games, keep people coming back, cuz they, they allow you to, uh, become other people you can role play. I mean, you look at Sony's commercials for the, the PS five, they base their whole marketing came campaign upon, you know, basically becoming something that you're not at least for a little bit while, uh, for a little while. And, and it hits upon that part of our imagination

Speaker 1: (17:22)

And you know, creators these days, they have a lot of tools at their disposal, not only to connect with their audience, but also to make a living. I'd ask your advice here, but you and your co-host Ian Ferguson that you guys actually just covered this topic recently on an episode of the completely unnecessary podcast, here's a portion of that and you

Speaker 8: (17:37)

Have to keep at it. I mean, heck we've had people, um, call in, say, Hey, I got a podcast. And uh, on, on our quest, you know, on our Q and a line and I checked their podcasts and they were no longer doing it by the time I got to their question. Yeah. It's not, it's not a thing that you can do, like for two months and expect to gain a listener base. No one, you gotta treat it like a band. You gotta treat it like you gotta grind. Yes. If, and like, if, and you gotta like it obviously, but it's not like you're gonna, it's not like doing a YouTube channel where you can blow up. You can, you can blow up with some talent and get the algorithm and be like a Scott, the Waz where you're talented, you get favored a little by the algorithm, people like you. And then you're a sensation and have a fricking TV show coming out in a couple years. Podcasting is like, there's some not luck involved, but if there there's no like magic potion, I believe, or you can catch fire with a topic, but even as we've learned and that doesn't always last forever. No. So pot, that's the thing about podcasting. So it's like, you gotta grind like a band and just work your way up. It's almost like it has to be grassroots like a band. So it has

Speaker 1: (18:39)

To be like a band. What else would you say to someone who wants to do their own path of independent digital media? You know, some people, they feel overwhelmed just trying to start. They might have a job and other responsibility,

Speaker 8: (18:50)

You have to look at independent entertainment creation, almost like a bonus, uh, uh, of your life or like a hobby to start. You can't jump into it right away. Uh, especially if you have a full-time job, because it's so rare to be able to make a living off of it. And when it comes to something like YouTube, it's so competitive, let alone podcasting, but YouTube is super competitive. And if you live in a, in a place like, like we do in San Diego, it's not like revenue doing online entertainment, adjusts based upon where you lived. It's not like any other, uh, occupation. You make the same making YouTube videos in San Diego, as you do in Wichita, you know, Kansas. So you have to be, uh, aware of that. So love what you do, but treat it like a hobby. Don't go spending thousands of dollars on equipment you don't need to, or don't quit your day job.

Speaker 8: (19:43)

Uh, literally, cause I've seen that happen with people and try to make a go of it for a couple years, because that may not work out it's it's not just about, about talent. It's also about being noticed. It's about, like I said, catching fire as well. When it comes to podcasting, you don't have an algorithm to help promote your, your, your work like you do with YouTube. Like I said, it's totally grassroots podcast, uh, is word of mouth mainly. And self-promotion, and it's, it's tougher because it's usually audio only. So it's harder to say to someone, Hey, check out this hour and a half, two hour podcast versus a YouTube video. Hey, check out this new channel. It's even harder to spread that way later

Speaker 1: (20:22)

In that same clip. You mentioned that you have been doing YouTube for 15 years. What do you make of how big streaming media has become over that past

Speaker 8: (20:29)

Time? It's it was just a natural progression. A when, when Netflix started going, uh, streaming about wow, 10 years ago, is it, has it been that long or, or that, or has it been sooner? Uh, it, it just seemed like, you know, YouTube established the marketplace for there to be streaming, uh, media and, and, and shows some, some low budget, but some high budget, like, like ones I've done on that appeared on YouTube, uh, video game years, or even on Amazon prime. So it makes sense naturally that, uh, other big players would get into the market. And especially since they realize, you know, why are we let's just cut out the middlemen? Why, why do, why do we want people, why do we need to sell our content? Let's just make our own streaming service and, and just get the money directly. So it's gonna continue. And probably the cable companies are going the way of the Dodo. They're getting pushed out with services like YouTube, YouTube, TV, Hulu, uh, sling, you know, sling TV and, and, and others of the, like, it's just a natural progression. And it it's sort of like the technology has grown up with me as I've seen it.

Speaker 1: (21:37)

I'm talking with pat contrary. He's the co-host of the completely unnecessary podcast. Conventions are also starting to pick back up again. We actually just had ComicCon special edition here in San Diego, and we know that you travel the country going to video game conventions. And aside from growing your brand and selling some merch there, some swag, what do you get from those experiences?

Speaker 8: (21:56)

The conventions are a great reminder that what you do affects other people directly, you see like the positive reactions, uh, I'll speak at some conventions, depending on what convention. I'll speak to a couple hundred people, if not more throughout a two or three day period. And then you go to your panel and you entertain people and, and, and you don't get that feedback the same way. I, I, I probably would liken it to maybe someone who worked on a movie, maybe a, an actor going to the movie theater and, and actually seeing the movie with an audience you don't know until you're you put that work in front of people that they actually enjoy it, right. Even if you look at the numbers, you see, okay, my, my, my podcast is getting 25,000 downloads or this video got 30,000 views or 20,000 views. It's different seeing the reactions in, in person. It definitely is. So that's what I get from the experience besides, you know, I like still searching for, for junk out there, classic gaming stuff. Even though I, I spend I've spent way too much over the years and I don't have room anymore. And so my, my selling habits have, have certainly, uh, died off so to speak.

Speaker 1: (22:59)

And one of the reasons that we wanted you here on round table is because we wanted to feature locally produced shows. What drew you to San Diego. And does this place lend itself in any way to the work you, you like? Is this a podcast friendly city?

Speaker 8: (23:12)

San Diego, a podcast friendly city? Well, uh, my, my co-host also does a food podcast called ex extra napkins where they go to a lot of the eateries that exist in San Diego. So for that, I guess it would be fine, but for what I do personally, living in San Diego doesn't really happen in, but it does help my, I, I, I guess my personality type, because it's a little more laid back than the east coast, where I'm from New Jersey, the people are a bit nicer. The weather is a lot better. It's the best weather in the us, right? That's San Diego. So I guess it helps my, my, um, my temperament in a way to produce content and helps me, you know, achieve that work life balance. You know, as I'm, I live like 15, 20 minutes away from the, you know, the San Diego zoo, it's the greatest zoo in north America. I can relax and go to the water and hang out by the beach and you can't do that everywhere. So in turns of that, it's, it's a friendly city, if a little pricier than most, if there's

Speaker 1: (24:08)

One thing that you would recommend as an entry point for your content, what would it be?

Speaker 8: (24:12)

It's tough to recommend one single item as an entry point, because I I've done a variety of things. Uh, the path, the NES punk videos of flea market men, this videos, the video game years, you know, I've also done, uh, the books and the podcasts. Uh, but I would recommend if you, if you wanna get into my narrative work, go look up combat pat NES punk versus angry video game nerds. It's probably one of the, the better produced short films I've done. Otherwise check out the video game years, you know, start, start in the classic era. Start in 1980 year, you know, 1983 to, to see the, the, the death of video games in north America. there the decline. And, and just check out that, or just check out the podcast, check out, you know, any new episode that comes out

Speaker 1: (24:58)

And something we hear a lot with podcasts is find us wherever you get your podcast, where can people find your content?

Speaker 8: (25:03)

Yeah, you can listen to my podcast, wherever, wherever you have your platform of choice lined up, uh, you can go to anchor.fm/the CU podcast. I'm also on YouTube. My channel is pat the NES punk. Also, you can find me on Twitter at that same one word, pat, the NES punk. I also Twitch eighties and nineties, retro TV commercials, and every Wednesday, it's fun. twitch.tv/country code.

Speaker 1: (25:31)

I've been talking with pat contrary. He's the host of the completely unnecessary podcast based here in San Diego and pat, thanks so much for your time. Thanks

Speaker 8: (25:39)

For having me.

Speaker 1: (25:40)

Thanks so much for tuning into this week's edition of K PBS Roundtable. And thank you to my guests. Adriana held DS and is your Christin co-host of San Diego 1 0 1 podcast and pat contrary co-host of the completely unnecessary podcast. I'm Matt Hoffman. We hope you're enjoying the holidays. Join us next week for a special best of 2021 show on round table.

Red Beats headphones, just like the ones Bernie Sanders wore.
Bloomberg Bloomberg via Getty Images
Red Beats headphones, just like the ones Bernie Sanders wore.

KPBS reporter Matt Hoffman hosts a discussion with the hosts of locally produced podcasts. We start with Adriana Heldiz and Maya Srikrishnan, co-hosts of Voice of San Diego's San Diego 101 podcast which aims to explain local government and civic engagement in an accessible way. We also hear from Pat Contri, co-host of The Completely Unnecessary Podcast about his love for retro video games and what it takes to build an audience as a content creator.