"Left on Red," the Daily Mountain Eagle's new political history podcast, launches on Thursday.
Hosts Jennifer Cohron and Drew Gilbert will be interviewing current and former elected officials, party leaders and voters about Walker County's changing political landscape over the past 30 years.
The first guests will include Alabama Senate Majority Leader Greg Reed as well as Sheriff Nick Smith and Nick Key, who managed Smith's social media campaign during the 2018 election.
A future episode will feature dual interviews with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones and former Auburn head coach and current Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville.
Cohron is the Daily Mountain Eagle's features editor and has been with the paper since 2007. Gilbert has been the mayor of Cordova since 2012 and runs the family-owned Tallulah Brewing Company in Jasper.
"Left on Red" is the Daily Mountain Eagle's first podcast.
"The idea of producing a podcast is something that I have kicked around for a couple of years now, but we needed to wait until we had the right content," DME Publisher James Phillips said. “When Jennifer and Drew pitched this show idea to me, I knew this would be the perfect podcast to make our debut show. Politics in Walker County lends itself to information and entertainment, which is what we want our podcasts to be about.”
The first episode of "Left on Red" will be available for download at noon on Thursday. The podcast will be available through the PodBean app. A link will also be posted on the Daily Mountain Eagle's Facebook page.
New episodes will be released weekly through Nov. 21.
"My favorite podcasts are the ones that tell great stories. Walker County's switch from being a Democratic stronghold to a Republican one has been the biggest local political story in Drew's and my lifetime. We'll return to that topic again and again during this first season, but we also want to give our guests an opportunity to have some fun with us and share stories that they don't get to tell in a more traditional news setting," Cohron said.
The Republican wave began forming at the dawn of the new millennium and crashed across Walker County in 2011 when six elected officials switched their political affiliation from Democratic to Republican over the course of the year. By 2014, there were only five Democrats left in office.
"I have always found an interest in Walker County and in politics in general. Watching the changing landscape in my lifetime has been a source of real intrigue, and I am looking forward to working with the DME to talk to many of the people involved in the transformation," Gilbert said.
Podcasts, or audio files available for downloading that can be listened to on a computer or smart phone, have grown in popularity exponentially in recent years.
Two-thirds of Americans listen to podcasts at least once in a while, including 23 percent who do so a few times a week, according to a CBS News poll released earlier this year.
The poll showed that podcast listening has increased in all age categories but has increased the most among younger adults. Now, 29 percent of Americans between the ages of 18-34 listen to podcasts at least a few times a week, compared to 20 percent for the 35-44 and 65 and older age groups, 18 percent for those 45-54 and 19 percent for those 55 to 64.
Larger print news outlets such as The New York Times and the Washington Post have launched successful podcasts in recent years. The Daily Mountain Eagle is the first newspaper of its size in Alabama to add podcasts to its growing list of digital content.
“Our goal is to provide valuable local content to our audience, whether that be in print or on the web,” Phillips said. “While 'Left on Red' is our first podcast, I do not expect it to be the last. We are working on several other ideas that will debut in the later part of 2019 or early 2020. A community newspaper in our current day and time, needs to have a strong print product as well as an ever-expanding digital presence. The Daily Mountain Eagle is doing that on a level that most have not attempted. I am proud of our staff for being willing to evolve and improve through hard work and dedication. I am also thankful to our audience for supporting us and helping us continue to be the newspaper that cares about Walker County.”