“Off the record.”
That’s a journalistic term that usually refers to upcoming information being provided by a source to a reporter that is intended as background only to a news story.
It is also the title of our new podcast, which premiers today on PinalCentral.com, the website of Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc.
Conceived and produced by veteran reporter Kevin Reagan, Off the Record is patterned after old-time community radio programs in which a host interviews a guest while discussing a local issue or subject matter. In this human interest program, Kevin will conduct a long-form interview that gets at the heart of how guests ended up where they are.
Elected officials, community leaders, artists from all around Pinal County will be invited to come on air and answer questions about their lives and work.
The 20- to 30-minute episodes will be posted each Friday, with links pushed out to the community through social media and our digital newsletter.
Kevin will also write a companion news story on the subject that will appear during the week in the Casa Grande Dispatch and other print publications.
Kevin, whom some have seen in a number of community theater productions, is no stranger to a radio setting. After graduating from the University of Arizona, Kevin traveled to Alaska to intern at KTOO Public Radio. While there he produced a number of radio stories about politics, government, criminal justice and the arts.
Off the Record is being sponsored by Grace 91.1, a Casa Grande Valley community FM radio station.
Kevin’s first guest is new Banner Casa Grande Medical Center CEO Brian Kellar. Future guests may include area police chiefs, nonprofit directors, restaurant owners or elected officials as well as candidates seeking public office.
And just what is a podcast and where did it originate?
A podcast, or netcast, is basically an episodic series of digital audio files that a user can download and listen to. The format can also be used in videos, which are logically termed vodcasts.
According to Wikipedia, the term “podcast” was the brainchild of Ben Hammersley, a British journalist and broadcaster, as a portmanteau of “iPod” (an Apple brand of media player) and “broadcast.”
Podcasting is considered a converged medium bringing together audio, the web and portable media players. The wide variety of topics available in podcasts has contributed to its growing popularity, especially among younger audiences.
We considered a variety of formats for our first podcast, mostly involving a panel of journalists discussing and reviewing stories they covered or the hot topics of the day. But we chose this format because it involved outside viewpoints through guests.
Kevin said he chose the title of the program because of the way people respond when they believe they are talking “off the record.”
“There are many times when you’re interviewing someone and they’ll say, ‘Can I tell you something off the record?’ And then their personality completely changes and they open up in an authentic way,” Kevin said. “Print stories cannot capture that authenticity with just words.”
He said he wants this podcast to get guests to open up and express themselves honestly, almost like they are talking “off the record.”
“I hope this podcast allows the public to get to know the people leading their community,” he said.