Today marks 10 years since the release of the first episode of Podcast Stockton. Aside from my family and my professional career, Podcast Stockton remains one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. Podcast Stockton was a true labor of love for many years... and 107 episodes! I wouldn’t be who am I today if it weren’t for the show.
In response to coverage of my hometown that nearly always focused on the negative, I released the first episode of Podcast Stockton on March 22, 2009. Choosing to focus on the positive side of Stockton, I wanted to bring listeners local business reviews, commentary on local issues, and interviews with local residents.
Podcast Stockton was my second podcast. A couple of years before, Dawn and I and our daughters produced a family show called Pizza Go Here, releasing 47 episodes between 2007 and 2009. It was fun recording our segments together and connecting with listeners from all over the world.
My original idea for Podcast Stockton was to write a blog of Stockton restaurant reviews but then Forbes published its infamous Most Miserable Cities list with Stockton in the number one spot. I was furious. An old friend of mine, Tom Mondragon, convinced me to do more than just complain about it; he encouraged me to prove Forbes wrong. So that’s what I set out to do and I wanted him to be my first guest, on episode number one.
The Show That Nearly Never Was
The day before I was supposed to record my first interview our home was burglarized. My wife called and told me that someone broke in and ransacked our home.
Our kids were scared. We were scared. I was beyond angry.
One of the many material things the thief took was my portable recorder - on the day before I was supposed to record my first interview for Podcast Stockton, the show all about the great life in Stockton! I called the would-be guest (Tom Moccia, episode 2) and explained what had happened, and that I was not going forward with the show. He reminded me that there was always going to be crime in the city, and that I shouldn’t let this incident stop me from doing the show. It was a real, “don’t let them win” moment. He was right. I drove to BestBuy that evening, bought a portable recorder, and kept my appointment with him the next day. I was so close to calling it quits before I even started. Thank you for not letting me, Tom.
I Couldn’t Do It Alone
After about a dozen episodes I realized I didn’t want to do this alone and started thinking about bringing on a co-host. The choice was obvious: Rod Villagomez. I learned about Rod a couple of months after starting Podcast Stockton and his name kept popping up everywhere. He was doing some interesting things with social media, Delta College radio, and local sports broadcasting. He was first a guest on episode 10 and then officially joined as co-host on episode 17 (with the great interview of local blogger and commentator, Slick Diaz). Rod’s experience in radio really elevated our show.
There were so many people that supported us in the early days, but almost no one more than Wes Rhea, CEO of Visit Stockton. From giving us event tickets to give away to our listeners, to his regular "Things To Do in Stockton" call-in segment, to his many appearances on the show, Wes did so much to legitimize us in the eyes of many in Stockton. And we always had a great time recording with him. (episode 11, episode 77, episode 100).
Podcast Stockton grew to be quite an amazing team. We brought on another co-host, Susan Spracher and then Manuel Montes and Greg Bahr joined the production team, and occasionally even filled in as co-hosts. I love this crazy, random group of friends and am so honored to have worked alongside them on this project. And even more so, I am thankful for their continued friendship through the years.
A few times we had guests in the co-host chair. Gabriel Reyes, Chris Kay, and even our “sports guy” Lowell Tuckerman did amazing jobs as co-hosts.
I needed a logo and visual identity for the show and was fortunate to get to work with the talented local artist, Omar Vargas. It was such an eye-opening experience for me to work with such a professional. And I have always loved the artwork he created, which has been used to represent the show since its early days.
Wes Johnson loved the show and felt it was just missing one thing: an iPhone app. So, he built a very slick app, iStockton, that I was incredibly proud of showing off!
The earliest spark for the idea for Podcast Stockton came from a podcast done by Joe and Lisa Lynn from Arlington Heights, Illinois. The Cheap Date Show ran from 2005 to 2007 and although it didn’t start off as a show about the town where they lived, it turned into that, and had me thinking of how to do that for Stockton from the first time I heard it.
Now for the hard part. I love all of the episodes, for many different reasons, most especially for having created them. As a listener, many stood out as my favorites. Here are some, but not all, of my favorites:
Johnny Milford, a.k.a. Johnny Stockton, the local radio and voice over legend, teased his comeback to the local airwaves in episode 71.
The first “Explicit” tag! Our show was always family friendly which was never a problem for our guests. We had no issue editing out the occasional profane word - although Mike Klooster really put that to the test. But it was the interview we did with his wife, Jenny-Faye Klooster, that we finally went no-holds barred. Of course, as the creator of the Swearing Mom’s Guide To Life, there was no way we were going to ask her to hold back. And in the end, episode 102 was one of my absolute favorite episodes!
Ah, the beer episodes. There was a time when my co-hosts and I considered changing our show format to a beer review podcast. Interviewing Steve Altimari (episode 98) and Lauren Sage (episode 99), while enjoying a great deal of beer (or twelve), was super fun. These episodes are especially crazy to listen to now, when I can hear Rod, Susan, and I go from podcaster to drunkcaster.
Although we didn’t release it as a regular podcast, one of my all-time favorite Podcast Stockton memories was doing Podcast Stockton Live! at the Way Out West BBQ Championship event!
I was always amazed when I asked to interview someone and they said yes. Including long-time Record Columnist, Michael Fitzgerald (episode 12), Tod Ruhstaller, CEO of The Haggin Museum (episode 26), Tony “Finnegan” Mannor (episodes 3 & 78), Peter Powers (episode 104), Brandon Piasecki (episode 105), Tyler Young (episode 103), Deacon Stephen Bentley (episode 101), Benjamin Saffold (episode 56), Reggie “Thuggdork” Galindo (episode 97), Marquis Harris (episode 93), Stockton Police Public Information Officer Joe Silva (episode 92), Michael Brooking (episode 90), Susan Eggman (episode 22), Miguel Guillen (episode 89), Adriana Brogger (episode 81), Alan Sanchez (episode 82), Alice van Ommeren (episode 54), and so many more.
There are many more episodes than what I’ve linked to here. And all of them are still available on podcaststockton.com. If you want to see Stockton through our eyes (and ears), go check them out. I highly recommend starting with episode 0 and working through all of the episodes!
Podcast Stockton gave me so much more than I ever thought it would. It instilled in me even more pride in my city, it opened doors to so many interesting projects and associations, and it gave me some of the greatest friendships of my life.
So many people allowed us to share their stories. I am eternally grateful for that honor. If you ever wrote to us, called us, or appeared on our show, please know how grateful I am for you. Thank you so very much.
Thanks again to my friends who helped make Podcast Stockton what it was. And thank you to my wife and my family for always supporting my endeavors and for always making our guests feel welcome when they came to the Outback Studios.
Ten years. Wow.