Cheeseburgers, health care & rural identity: adventures in podcasting

Aaron Brown (right) talks with Frank Haataja of The Minnesota Skinny during a recent podcast. (PHOTO: Eliot Ness/The Minnesota Skinny)

At this point, the words “blog” and “podcast,” once trendy markers of an innovative agent of media disruption, have reached the point in their life cycle where the words themselves are pretty boring, perhaps even grating, on their own. But people read and listen to blogs and podcasts in great numbers, particularly if you count the people who don’t read or listen to them but do comment on the corresponding social media feeds. And for business reasons, I do count those people.

Even as MinnesotaBrown rolls into its second decade, I’ve yet to start a dedicated podcast of my own. But I do end up on podcasts through my other media work. Today, I share some recent examples that readers here might be interested to hear. Last week I was on three different podcasts, a coincidence perhaps, but I enjoyed the very different conversations that ensued.

The Minnesota Skinny

First, two Fridays ago I sat down at Mike’s Pub in downtown Hibbing with an old friend of mine, Frank Haataja. Frank runs The Minnesota Skinny, a beer, food and sports blog based in the Twin Cities. We attended UW-Superior together and were both editors of the school newspaper at different times.

Anyway, Frank wrote a blog post about our shared battle with the giant pretzels and ridiculously caloric cheeseburgers at Mike’s Pub. He later shared the podcast featuring our conversation. It was among the more personal interviews I’ve done, in part because I know Frank from the old days. I talk about how I got into blogging, personal struggles and redemption, how I approach differing viewpoints, and my guiding principles for the work I do. If you’d like to know more about me and how this blog ticks, you will want to check it out.

Dig Deep

Then this past week, Northern Community Radio released another series of the radio show/podcast “Dig Deep,” the independent public radio station’s first dedicated “podcast first” show. Producer Heidi Holtan moderates an hour-long conversation between my friend Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns and myself. Chuck is the “conservative” commentator while I am the “liberal.” In truth, we have a way of talking about issues that is more collaborative and that’s the hook of the show. We try to figure out ways forward for issues that vex modern politics.

The latest episodes of “Dig Deep” deal with health care. We start with the history of American health care system in the first segment. Next, the second segment asks whether or not health care is a right. Finally, we concluding with the question of how to reform health care. This is our fourth “issue” podcast since we started late last year. I think you can hear how the show has continued to develop into something pretty cool. I enjoy these talks and the challenging heft of what we talk about in a very friendly, sometimes funny environment. You can listen or subscribe to Dig Deep on iTunes.

Gilmore and Guest

Finally, this afternoon I did the “Gilmore and Guest” podcast with conservative commentator John Gilmore. I’ve come to know John as one of the most prolific members of Minnesota’s political Twitter scene. As infuriating as our political differences can sometimes be, we respect for one another as independent voices. It was an interesting conversation. You might be interested in the discussion about the identities of the DFL and GOP parties, and their challenges going forward. We seemed to agree the DFL currently has an advantage in the governors race, despite GOP dominance in recent legislative races. But we have both learned that things can change quickly.

Another Great Northern Radio Show approaches June 17 at the Reif Center in Grand Rapids. Thus, I’m in no danger of starting a MinnesotaBrown podcast anytime soon. But I do enjoy doing these other podcasts time to time. Hope you enjoy them. Though I would recommend you listen in moderation. Space them out and drink some water in between. That’s how I got through.

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