When talk radio first hit the airwaves in 1906, professional broadcasters were the only ones able to tell homegrown stories to local listeners. Over 100 years later, internet podcasting made this form of communication accessible to anyone, and local podcasters have the opportunity to share Utah’s unique culture with the world.
Two notable local podcasts are “The Banyan Collective” and “I am Salt Lake.” “The Banyan Collective,” an Ogden-based podcast, focuses on Ogden arts and outdoor rec.
“The Banyan Collective’s” co-producers are Todd Oberndorfer and Brandon Long. Oberndorfer, a WSU visual arts adviser, hopes he can turn “The Banyan Collective” into a full-time job as it grows in popularity.
“‘The Banyan Collective’ may be Ogden-based, but at the same time, listeners can be anywhere and get their little dose of Ogden when they listen to our programs,” Oberndorfer said.
The group got its start in 2010 as a live broadcast on WSU’s radio station, KWCR 88.1 Weber FM with their flagship podcast, “Ogden Outdoor Adventure Show.” Radio censorship made it so guests couldn’t speak freely, so it became clear to them that a change needed to be made. Switching to a podcast format made it more accessible to listeners since it didn’t have to be live or in a traditional studio.
The group generally broadcasts on-site at events all around the Ogden Valley, including Snowbasin Resort and Historic 25th Street events, complete with a mobile podcast studio and a tricked-out 1987 Dodge Xplorer.
“The Banyan Collective” has expanded its repertoire to include three other shows: “Van Sessions,” a live music broadcast that showcases local talent from the van; “LITERALLY,” a Q and A with local authors; and “The Nine Rails Podcast,” a sit-down with businesses and creatives supporting the infrastructure of the burgeoning art scene on Historic 25th Street. Next spring, “The Nine Rails Podcast” will also have its own recording studio inside the Monarch, the flagship building of Ogden’s Nine Rails Creative Arts District.
Oberndorfer hopes “The Nine Rails Podcast,” with its personal narratives about artists and the business of community-based art, can serve as a blueprint for other cities planning on establishing their own art districts.
“I am Salt Lake,” created by husband-and-wife duo Chris and Krissie Holifield, showcases SLC’s people and places. “I am Salt Lake” was voted Best Local Podcast by the 10,000 people who cast their votes in City Weekly Magazine’s Best of Utah Awards.
The “I am Salt Lake” podcast is proving that local stories about Salt Lake City businesses and people can serve a purpose for long-distance listeners.
Chris Holifield recalls two stories he says keep him going with the podcast — one about a listener debating a major career decision that would involve making a move from Philadelphia to Austin or Salt Lake. He wrote to the Holifields to tell them that after stumbling upon their program and hearing how great a place SLC is through their content, he made his choice to take the job in Utah.
Another listener from Poland was also planning a move to Utah and told them he made his choice to come to the state after becoming a listener.
“People are picking to move to a city based on listening to a podcast. Could you imagine if every city did a podcast like this, how powerful that would be for their tourism?” Chris Holifield said.
The Holifields met through the podcast, which Chris started in 2012, and have since married. Both juggle the show’s responsibilities, but Krissie also works a full-time job as a UX designer. Chris, a self-taught podcaster, sees it as a rising trend and now coaches others to create their own.
The efforts of the two podcasts in sharing local Utah stories are having a far greater reach with the help of the internet.
Podcasting is a rapidly growing industry. A recent Podcast Consumer 2018 report found that 64 percent of people 12 years-and-up are familiar with podcasting, up from only 22 percent in 2006. On average, it revealed people spend four hours a day listening to audio. Of those who are podcast listeners, 33 percent of that time is spent consuming podcasts through their smartphones via streaming apps like SoundCloud and Spotify.
The growing number of podcast listeners means more opportunity for human connection. One way the Holifields’ interact with their listeners is through the “I am Salt Lake” Facebook group, which Chris said has brought him and Krissie a lot of real-life friends.
“We crave people, yet we’re so lonely at the same time,” Chris said. “A podcast creates connection with somebody in some strange way. It’s a powerful medium.”
“The Banyan Collective”’s list of podcasts can be found on banyancollective.com. “I am Salt Lake” can be found on iamsaltlake.com.