Monday, April 10, 2017

Elevate Maryland - Episode One: A Short Talk With An Old Friend

I love podcasts.  In fact, I love podcasts so much that I will do things I don't want to do just for the opportunity to listen to a podcast.  When I walk to work, drive my car, exercise, do yard-work, or vacuum, I listen to podcasts.

So, obviously, when the opportunity arose to do a podcast with my friend Candace Dodson Reed, I excitedly said yes.   When the extremely talented Ilana Bittner of HoCoMoJo agreed to produce, I knew we could do something special. Our first episode hit the interwebs on Friday, and I'm really pleased with how it came out.  Admittedly, the door bell at Joe's Deli is a bit annoying, but as one friend suggested it made the podcast "more real".  (I may be trying to make the next podcast "less real" on that front if at all possible.)

For our first go, we wanted to make a big splash with a well-known newsmaker.  I feel like we really lucked out by being able to have former County Executive Ken Ulman on as our first guest.  We asked about what he's been up to since 2014, particularly his work as CEO of Margrave Strategies.  I hear the phrase "dream job" more and more recently, but I can tell with Ken that it is actually true.  While County Executive, you always had the feeling that Ken had a vision for what he wanted Howard County to be and this vision was shown in the actions, initiatives, and policies that he put forward.  Ken wanted Howard County to be more green, more cutting edge, and an exemplar for other communities to follow.  That brought him plenty of criticism from those who thought Howard County was perfectly fine just the way it was.  But for those of my generation and anyone looking to raise a family in Howard County, that vision seems to have paid off.

Now Ken gets to market that place-making vision to those looking to be more green, more cutting edge, and exemplars in their own way.  He, along with his team at Margrave, works with college towns to utilize their foundational strengths to build amazing places to live.  These institutions of higher education realize that in order to compete for the best talent, both in the student body and academia, they need great towns.  Ken has found a very powerful niche that works well for his talents.

What I enjoyed most about this first podcast was the "rapid fire" portion at the end.  When I began the first question with "I'd like to ask some questions of you as a person...", Ken's eyes got big like I was about to ask him "boxers or briefs".  As I finished by asking him about books, movies, and music he would recommend, I could tell that he enjoyed the opportunity to step away from policy and talk on human terms.  From talking to many of you, I know that the book, TV show, and music he recommended were all downloaded, ordered, or viewed within the weekend.

For the next show, we would like to have someone on from the Republican side of things.  We understand and appreciate that some in the GOP may be hesitant to come on a show with two Democrats, but I would respond that we will have a failing show if we don't respect our guests.  We do not intend to offer a liberal rallying point with this podcast.  Rather, we want to offer up local content in an interesting way.  We want those who make public decisions to have a forum to express why they did what they did, why they think the way they do, and maybe what they'll be watching on Sunday night with their spouse.  I think we did that well with the first show and can't wait to see what comes next.

Have a great Monday doing what you love!