Breaking new ground is one of the trademarks of the Politically Speaking podcast, and this year was no exception.
After three years of podcasts, Politically Speaking changed its format and put the spotlight on guests. In all, 48 episodes featured federal, state and local officials from across Missouri and Illinois – as well as a few folks who aren’t in office.
Over the course of 2014, we covered a lot of ground, including an eventful legislative session and an election in which local contests took center stage. We also pressed some key officials on what was next for the St. Louis region after the protests and rioting in Ferguson. And throughout it all, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum made several terrible jokes.
Just for fun, we crunched some numbers about our shows:
- 27 hours 58 minutes and 17 seconds: The total amount of time that elapsed in episodes with guests. (A few of these were “split shows” that featured a guest on only half of the time.)
- 34 minutes and 58 seconds: The average length of the 48 shows with guests. We like to run a tight, but fair, ship on the Politically Speaking podcast.
- Eight: The number of guests from St. Louis, which was the most frequent residence of people that appeared on the show. Kansas City came in second place, as it was the hometown for four guests.
- 25: The number of current Missouri lawmakers on the show. Incoming House Speaker John Diehl made two appearances, making him the first and currently only politician to appear on the show three times.
- Three: The number of statewide officials from Missouri – Secretary of State Jason Kander, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder – who joined us on the show in 2014. That leaves Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, both Democrats, as the two statewide officers who haven't appeared. (State Auditor Tom Schweich was on the show in 2013.)
- Two: The number of officials who appeared on the show who once recorded deeds. They are St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida and former (and future) St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter.
Before we turn a page on another year, here are some of our favorite highlights from this year's shows.
Three moments in particular stuck out for me:
- It was a big deal to me when state Rep. Caleb Jones of Boone County indicated on our show that dealing with the aftermath of the Ferguson unrest would be a priority for the GOP-led legislature. When a key Republican in the Missouri House says something like this, it suggests that the issues -- including alterations to municipal courts and a look at St. Louis County's structure -- won't be an afterthought in the legislative shuffle.
- By the time state Rep. Jeff Roorda came on our show, the Barnhart Democrat had become something of a lightning rod. Roorda – the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association – had provided an unapologetic defense of law enforcement in the wake of the Ferguson protests. His opinions may not have been super popular in some quarters, but it's the type of sentiment that was expressed more vocally as the year went on – especially after two New York City Police officers were killed.
- I will remember Darlene Green’s appearance on the podcast for two reasons: First, we engaged in a frank discussion about the impact of race on Missouri’s politics – which months later became a dominant topic of discussion throughout the region. And, second, my son was born the day after we completed the show.
- It was great to get state Rep. Chris Kelly on the show before he was term-limited out after 18 years in the
- As much as we like having elected officials on, having political consultants on is a nice change of pace. Sometimes they’re freer to speak their mind. Jeff Roe of Axiom Strategies operates the fourth-largest GOP direct-mail firm in the country. I found it really interesting to hear him talk about how he likes physical mailers more than anything else. Why? “We know they have to touch it."
- Even though we were all sleep deprived, having St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger on the show less than 12 hours after his win was a chance to talk to him about the nail-biter (which was won by just a couple thousand votes). And it was also a chance to look forward and discuss what his plans are to improve the relationship between police and the black communities they serve.
When it comes to our weekly Political Speaking podcasts, 2014 was a stellar year – which makes it harder for me to choose my favorites.
In fact, my favorite guests include all three on Chris McDaniel’s list.
But overall, rather than individual shows, I’m most proud of specific groups of shows. Such as:
- The podcasts featuring House and Senate leaders, especially Senate President Pro Tem Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles; House Speaker Tim Jones, R-Eureka; and incoming Speaker-elect John Diehl, R-Town and Country. (Diehl gets particular kudos for re-recording a show that had fallen victim to technical failure). All three legislative leaders have been refreshingly candid and accessible, offering great legislative insight to our listeners.
- Our pairing of ballot competitors, notably St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter and her temporary replacement, Jennifer Florida; and of the two Jefferson County rivals for the state Senate, Republican Paul Wieland (who won) and Roorda. We tried, but failed, to have a similar matchup in the 24th District state Senate contest. Republican Jay Ashcroft declined our invitation.
- And our shows featuring some of the most influential women in local and state government, especially U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin; former House Speaker (and now GOP candidate for governor) Catherine Hanaway; County Council chair Hazel Erby and state Sen-elect Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur.
As always, we are grateful to our guests -- and our loyal listeners -- for keeping the momentum going for the Politically Speaking podcast. We're hoping to exceed your expectations throughout 2015.