Downtown Podcast is a weekly video production filmed by friends, community members, and visitors to share the stories, ideas, and people that make the Downtown Las Vegas community so special.
Started in October 2012, the Downtown Podcast has grown to produce 63 episodes with guests ranging from Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and mega-angel investor Cyan Banister, to industry powerhouses such as Singularity University VP Robin Farmanfarmaian and tech industry leader Esther Dyson.
Throw in an appearance by legendary rapper Flavor Flav, and you’ve got one incredible weekly show in downtown Las Vegas!
“The creation of the Downtown Podcast is less of an idea and more of a solution,” explains host and creator Dylan Jorgensen. “The downtown Las Vegas community was growing to point where people were starting to get disconnected. The Downtown Podcast arose as a solution to share important community news, events and people to everyone in a more scalable way.”
The volunteer team explains that the Downtown Podcast is successful because of the people involved.
“I think the audience and at-home viewers can tell when people behind the scenes are not passionate. You can see it in traditional broadcasts,” Dylan Jorgensen explains. “I think our show is refreshing because it’s produced by people who genuinely care about downtown Las Vegas. Genuine people talking about things they are genuinely interested in.”
The volunteer team has evolved over time, but what has remained consistent is the amount of love poured into each taping.
“Volunteer projects are strange to define because they are about getting something for yourself, but only by helping others without expectations,” Dylan Jorgensen says. “I call it the ‘Downtown Paradox.’ It’s impossible to describe it logically, but it’s the most important thing we have!”
In 2014, three important members were added to the Downtown Podcast team. Michael Spadoni, a local Las Vegas musician, can be found playing the keyboard live at tapings. Denise Kutzner, an intern from Germany, can be found setting up each night and running the camera equipment. Finally, Mack Holiday from HolidayWhatTV, can be seen each week during the sponsor segment.
Pawel Szymczykowski, longtime volunteer at the Downtown Podcast, usually works the left side camera, which includes running the show timer and fiddling with the sound board. He agrees that Mack Holiday’s energy is contagious.
“Sometimes there is a mad scramble to hook up the long microphone for an audience interview, or to turn down Mack’s audio gain when he’s too enthusiastic and causing the audio levels to clip,” he says.
When he’s not responding to the energy at the table, Pawel Szymczykowski says he is usually talking to the audience.
“Quieting them down while shooting or riling them up during the applause segment,” he says. “Sometimes I tell dumb jokes.”
Pawel Szymczykowski says he started showing up to the Downtown Podcast after the Vegas Jelly meet-up for the free beer.
“I became a regular because I enjoyed the show so much,” he explains.
Then, he and friend Susan Hinton built the Downtown Podcast sign at Las Vegas Hackerspace SYN Shop because they were fans and to say thank you for help filming some special interviews of their team.
“I was asked to man one of the cameras around episode 25 when they were a little short on volunteers. Then I did it the week after too, and kept going,” he recalls. “It’s a lot of fun and I love everyone involved in the project! Thursday nights are often the highlight of my week. Sometimes you have a low energy day, but after engaging the audience, meeting the great guests Jackie has lined up, experiencing Susan’s professionalism and drive, and hearing Dylan’s off the wall commentary and crazy ideas, I always feel better and more energized than I did before.”
The Downtown Podcast has had recognition from the local startup and tech community in Las Vegas. Just this month, the volunteer team was awarded the 2013 “Las Vegas Spirit Award” by the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada.
“We thought there was nobody else who exhibited spirit in Vegas more so than the Downtown Podcast team,” said former TBAN president Jason Mendenhall at the awards ceremony.
The Downtown Podcast wouldn’t be as much fun without the sponsors who are recruited to foot the cost of the equipment and “#FreeBeer” for the audience each week.
“We have had wonderful support from both local companies and companies from around the nation,” said co-host Susan Hinton. “Modify Watches and Lamps.com are two sponsors from outside Las Vegas. Within our community IBEW 357 and EGO:Entertainment Growth Opportunities have been a great supporters. Rachel’s Kitchen in The Ogden has sponsored 3 times!”
Dylan Jorgensen says the Downtown Podcast’s growth plan is a plan that mirrors the downtown Las Vegas community.
“We know we always want to open doors for new people and reflect the community’s values,” he said.