To your vast and growing playlist of local podcast personalities, you may want to consider adding Amy Koch and Karin Housley.
The former Republican Senate majority leader and her pal Housley, who currently represents the east metro’s District 39 in the state Senate, have “softlaunched” a show called “The Get Real Happy Hour” via the Pohlad-owned Go 96.3 with Kailen Rosenberg, aka “The Love Architect.” (From her bio: “[Rosenberg] is a Master Certified Love, Life and Relationship Coach with specialized training in Spiritual Psychology, Addictions, and Relationships.”)
The association with Go 96.3 is interesting if seen as another step in the evolution of terrestrial radio and podcasting, or both, even though Go’s manager in charge of new business and event development, Peter Johns, says he has no plans to drop the show into one of the station’s broadcast time slots. For the time being, he prefers to think of the relationship with the women as more of a fortuitous happenstance.
According to Koch, it was a meet-up with Rosenberg, who has known the Go 96 team for several years, that led her and Housley to a handshake agreement with the station. Both Koch and Johns say that at the moment nobody is getting paid, but that there is an understanding about marketing (mainly Go 96 on-air plugs for the podcast) and ad sales outreach by both the women and the station. Currently, Juut Salons is on board as a sponsor.
It’s fair to say that Koch, 44, is the most interesting facet in this equation. The self-admitted “political addict” (and Russian linguist who once did work for the NSA) not only survived one of the more embarrassing public downfalls in recent memory, but managed to do so while maintaining an engaging sense of humor, earning respect from most points of the political compass for resilience and just being a damned good sport.
She doesn’t much care for comparisons of the podcast to ABC-TV’s enormously popular chat show, “The View,” though. “That’s not our model at all,” says Koch. “Our hope is that we’re not just pigeonholed as a show for women, because that isn’t what we want. With one former and one current politician, we think we have plenty of things to say of value to men as well.”
And if Rosenberg isn’t as up to speed on bonding bills and backroom legislative backstabbing, Koch believes her asking “the average person’s dumb question” serves a valuable purpose. “Those questions need to be asked. It’s like a reality check for any of us who are way into that stuff.”
The show, still as I say feeling its way toward a format, is operating in a kind of “rotating quarterback” process with the women trading off putting the next show together.
Housley, wife of former pro hockey star Phil Housley, has Univerity of Minnesota President Eric Kaler lined for next week, but also had Pioneer Press tech guru Julio Ojeda-Zapata on a couple of shows back to explain the finer points of her new iPhone to her.
But an election year may offer the women their best chance to shine, given their bona fides and insights into the who’s who and who’s not of Minnesota politics. (Tom Emmer’s chief of staff, David FitzSimmons, made a recent appearance trying to explain the GOP’s speaker of the House fiasco to listeners.)
Programming by, if not exclusively for, women is certainly available via local broadcast. The Hubbard family’s MyTalk 107-FM continues to roll along on a heavy diet of celebrity inanity and service journalism consumer plugs and tips. (Disclosure: I spent plenty of time at the station trading in exactly that. If only I could forget what I know about the Kardashians.)
But a show with two deeply sourced female politicians with a sense of humor offers something potentially valuable amid the biennial blizzard of stale-to-wonky-to-ludicrous messaging.
“Yeah,” says Koch — who also owns and operates the Maple Lake Bowl, which explains something about her casual vibe — “I think people are looking for places where politicians feel more comfortable and can come off as human beings. There’s a reason you see so many of them on comedy shows. They know that in situations like that they’re more relatable to the public; to people who otherwise tend to think, ‘You live in a completely different world than I do. How can you understand my life?’”
She says current give and take between the three women includes Rosenberg pushing for more national topics, while Housley and her “like the more parochial stuff.”
For his part, Johns has a wait-and-see attitude toward both the “The Get Real Happy Hour” and actively building family of podcasts.
“I’m one of those people who didn’t think much about podcasts until my 16 year-old showed me the stuff he had downloaded to his phone. All these fascinating lectures from that science guy [Neil deGrasse Tyson] and other really cool content. As a radio operator, you owe it to yourself to keep an eye out for compelling content like that, and when you get a chance to do something with personalities as interesting as Amy and Karin and Kailen you kind of have to go for it.”
“But,” he hedges, when asked about the presumed evolution of broadcast radio into something populated by podcasts, “this is still a separate world,” drawing a distinction between standard radio and a “hosting” of disparate content, like “The Get Real Happy Hour.”
“I don’t want to sound cagey, but the way we all look at this is as a great development opportunity. We’ll just see where it goes.” Adding, “If you hear of anyone who wants to advertise, tell them they can call me directly.”