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The Town of Oro Valley launched a new monthly podcast aimed at giving residents a look behind the scenes of town services and departments from the viewpoint of town staff. 

The podcast, “This is Oro Valley,” is hosted by town manager Mary Jacobs, who shines a spotlight on how the town’s services aid the community by speaking with those in charge of Oro Valley’s various departments and programs. 

“This is really designed to get people connected to what it is their town government does for them on an ongoing basis,” Jacobs said. “Our next one that comes out in about a week or two is going to be on our water utility and our sustainability. It’s really all about the town’s services.”

So far the podcast has featured topics like community policing, pavement preservation and the OV Safe Steps program since its inception last November. Jacobs said she likes to keep her interviews conversational to loosen up town staff sitting in the hot seat. 

“I’ve been on radio shows and stuff before so I know what to expect. But bringing in some of our team who have never have...I have to tell them to put their notes down and talk to me,” Jacob said. “I ask questions they weren’t expecting and they get all warm and their tone changes. It’s fun to see them do that.” 

“This is Oro Valley” is produced by the town’s communications department. Communications Administrator Misti Nowak said she and her staff try to find topics that are relevant to the community. The podcast’s inaugural episode was in response to the national conversation regarding police brutality and defunding police departments, according to Nowak. She and her staff felt it was important to allow Police Chief Kara Riley a moment to discuss what her department does for the community, said Nowak.

“When looking at topics, we look at things that are relevant. Our decision to start off with policing was because there was a lot of turmoil with law enforcement across the country,” Nowak said. “We thought what a great time to sit down with the police chief and get the human side of law enforcement that we’re not seeing on the national news right now.”

Nowak said the podcast also focuses on town projects like preserving Oro Valley’s roadways to give residents a look into why action is being taken in the first place. One of the goals of “This is Oro Valley” is to help residents understand how their tax dollars are being used, according to the communications administrator. 

“Roads might not seem that interesting, but we just started our paving schedule for the pavement preservation program and some may feel inconvenienced by that,” Nowak said. “When they understand what that’s for and that’s why we have quality roadways, then they are more accepting of what we need to do.” 

The town manager said the ultimate goal of the podcast is to get residents connected to what their town government does for them on an ongoing basis. While the format is currently monthly, Jacobs said she hopes community interest will lead to more frequent podcasts, dealing in more general topics related to town strategy. 

“We’re still mulling over what could be next. Maybe at some point if we broaden this and do shorter ones, we could focus on Oro Valley growth and have one on annexation,” Jacobs said. “Hopefully we can weave this into something that’s released every week.”

New episodes of “This is Oro Valley” are available mid-month on the town’s website, Spotify, or on any podcast application.

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