Dean Murdock hosting an episode of Amazing Places, his new placemaking podcast with 22 episodes that he started in July. (Dean Murdock Photo)

Dean Murdock hosting an episode of Amazing Places, his new placemaking podcast with 22 episodes that he started in July. (Dean Murdock Photo)

Pandemic podcasts emerge in Greater Victoria with policy, politics and punditry

Best Coast and Amazing Places podcasts put policy into practice

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. Murdock’s also had Cleveland-based road safety advocate and author Angie Schmitt on to promote her new book Right of Way. Schmitt’s profile brought an international audience with clicks coming from around the globe, as she is among the leaders in the movement to redesign roads to promote safe walking, biking and transit.

“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.”

Murdock uses the Anchor software app to record and post the Amazing Places to Spotify, Google and Apple podcast apps. So do Dell and Caradonna, who have released four podcasts and have had more than 500 listeners.

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.

READ ALSO: Saanich Coun. Dean Murdock won’t run for re-election

“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.”

READ MORE: New book by UVic author tackles sustainable economics

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.

All three are actually employees of the provincial government though they don’t work together.

Murdock is a Gordon Head resident and was a three-term Saanich councillor and CRD director until 2018 and currently works in the Ministry of Health’s Healthy Communities engagement initiative. Dell is director of legislation in the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, and president of the South Jubilee Neighbourhood Association. Caradonna, who is a full-time senior policy-maker with the province, is an adjunct professor with Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria (and who was running for the City of Victoria council byelection pre-COVID).

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.

The number of local podcasts is long. For more local podcast content try Skaana by author Mark Leiren Young, with a focus on orcas and the environment, Check the Program (a CFUV weekly show) on the upcoming arts and entertainment calendar, or the Creative Dive by Renee Leighann (former owner of the Copper Owl), which explores the hidden gems in the stories and experiences of artists and musicians from a Victoria perspective. There’s also a 2017 series called Monorail City from local transit planner Matthew Boyd that explored planning and other regional issues. A pair of Victoria Odd Fellows members have one called the Modern Goat Riders about their charity work, and the members of the Victoria Police union also have one.

(Travis Paterson has been a guest on the Amazing Places and Best Coast Political podcasts).

reporter@oakbaynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Steve Smith’s image of two sibling adolescent grizzly bears playfighting in the Chilko River in the B.C. Interior earned him best of show at the prestigious Lion’s Gate Celebration of Nature club competition for 2020-21. (Photo by Steve Smith)
Victoria Camera Club captures top spot in prestigious nature and wildlife competition

Saanich Peninsula photographers part of award-winning team

Downtown Victoria and the Inner Harbour are part of a corridor that also includes much of urban Saanich that is part of the Greater Victoria 2030 District, a sustainable buildings climate initiative announced recently. (Black Press Media file photo)
Ramping up energy efficiency in Greater Victoria buildings goal of new group

Greater Victoria 2030 District part of North American network of cities working to reduce emissions

Oak Bay High Grade 10 students Oliver Wakely and Alex Joiner with the new scoreboard to soon be installed on the grass turf. Fundraising from the Oak Bay Barbarians rugby alumni and Oak Bay Fire Fighters Charitable Foundation. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay High alumni buy new scoreboard

Scoreboard to be installed on grass field

Victoria Hospice staff Brianne Ohl, left, Angela Chalmers, right, and Sandi Ogloff, at back, show off their buttons that show a picture of them smiling. Staff has worked hard to maintain the connections with patients despite the barriers of PPE and rigid COVID-19 protocols. (Victoria Hospice Photo)
Hospice provides compassion in a time of COVID

Victoria Hospice 40th anniversary on pause during pandemic

Look for the Random Act of Kindness Day colouring contest in Black Press issues Jan. 17. Physical entries can be mailed or dropped off to local Black Press offices. A scanned or photographed entry can be emailed to info@victoriafoundation.bc.ca. Winning entries can get a $50 gift card to Bolen Books and a $100 donation to a charity of their choice from the VIctoria Foundation. (Pixabay)
Colouring contest coming for Kindness Day

Kindness Day colouring contest in partnership with Victoria Foundation

Terrance Josephson of the Princeton Posse, at left, and Tyson Conroy of the Summerland Steam clash during a Junior B hockey game at the Summerland Arena in the early spring of 2020. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Test your knowledge of Canada’s national winter sport

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Nanaimo hospital

Two staff members and one patient have tested positive, all on the same floor

A long-term care worker receives the Pfizer vaccine at a clinic in Nanaimo earlier this month. (Island Health photo)
All Island seniors in long-term care will be vaccinated by the end of this weekend

Immunization of high-risk population will continue over the next two months

A 75-year-old aircraft has been languishing in a parking lot on the campus of the University of the Fraser Valley, but will soon be moved to the B.C. Aviation Museum. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Vintage military aircraft moving from Chilliwack to new home at B.C. Aviation Museum

The challenging move to Vancouver Island will be documented by Discovery Channel film crews

A video posted to social media by Chilliwack resident Rob Iezzi shows a teenager getting kicked in the face after being approached by three suspects on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (YouTube/Rob i)
VIDEO: Security cameras capture ‘just one more assault’ near B.C. high school

Third high-school related assault captured by Chilliwack resident’s cameras since beginning of 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

Economic Development and Official Languages Minister Melanie Joly responds to a question in the House of Commons Monday November 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Federal minister touts need for new B.C. economic development agency

Last December’s federal economic update promised a stimulus package of about $100 billion this year

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Most Read