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Jeff Gardner

Over 25,000 bats find a summertime home in Marana’s Ina Road bridge. This might seem a surprisingly high number, but you’d already know that fact if you listened to the Marana Town Talk podcast, a monthly news podcast produced and released by the Town of Marana. 

After five episodes were released in 2018, producers Vic Hathaway and Brad Allis are preparing to expand the podcast in the new year. 

The podcast, which debuted in June 2018, started with a goal to balance “education and entertainment with thoughtful commentary on local current events,” and to cover news in Marana not only in the near future, but further in the future as well. 

“It’s something we had always envisioned,” said Town of Marana Communications Specialist Allis, whose background in radio suited him well as a podcast host. 

The podcasts, ranging anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes, cover a diverse array of topics relating to the Town of Marana, including recent news, annual events and interviews with town employees whose jobs don’t often see public light. The five previously released podcast episodes highlighted, among other things: the town’s changing environment during the summer months, primary elections, film initiatives, monsoon flood cleanup, public safety and water treatment projects.

Episodes generally cover three to five topics each, including an occasional “deep dive” into a town department, such as the water department, or local government in general to clear up any possible misconceptions.

“It’s not necessarily a super deep dive, but certainly more than a sound bite would tell you,” Allis said. 

While researching topics for what members of the public might enjoy hearing about, Allis realized his interests and the audience’s interests were quite similar. 

“I wanted to cover more stuff I’d like to learn about, because if I’d like to learn about it, there’s a good chance the public wants to learn about it as well,” Allis said. 

Vic Hathaway, Marana Communications Manager, viewed 2018 as a good opportunity to evaluate how the public consumes information, and in turn a learning opportunity for how to provide information to the public. She says the town is always looking for feedback on their communications, particularly with the Marana Town Talk podcast. 

“Our job is to bring information to the public that is easily digestible,” Hathaway said. “But we’re also catering to a very specific audience—it branches beyond the quick clicks of social media. So we’re trying to give them something more in-depth they might enjoy.”

Part of the in-depth coverage is interviewing people in the field for the podcast, such as clean-up crews after the monsoon, which Hathaway said was one of her favorite segments from last year’s episodes. She was also particularly fond of a ride-along segment with local police, of which there are plans to do more. 

“We try not to interview the usual suspects like town managers, but the crews out in the field,” Hathaway said. “There’s something very important about hearing people in their work.” 

While the podcast can be listened to in a traditional audio-only format, every episode is also uploaded to YouTube with an accompanying video. 

“We pride ourselves on being innovative, utilizing multimedia, and this just seemed like a logical step,” Allis said. 

With so many town projects either planned for or finishing in 2019, there will be plenty of content for upcoming episodes of the Marana Town Talk podcast, such as construction on Ina Road, the Santa Cruz River Path extension, Avra Valley Road reconstruction, refurbishing of the Marana Regional Airport and more. 

“For upcoming episodes, we’d like to do more on-site ride-alongs, like with the police or fire department,” Allis said. “I’d also like to do more work out in the field.” 

The next episode of Marana Town Talk is planned to release at the end of January, and will cover, among other topics, the construction on Ina Road. 

To listen to or view the Marana Town Talk podcast, visit maranaaz.gov.

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