FOLIO:’s Eddie and Ozzie Awards have been the longstanding pillar in recognizing excellence in magazine editorial and design. And as digital media has become an integral part of all magazine brands, they’ve expanded the categories to include new mediums like podcasts. This year, San Diego Magazine’s Happy Half Hour podcast was selected as the winner for Best Consumer City & Regional Podcast, a category that included finalists from Red Bull Media, D Magazine, Scholastic, Harvard Business Review, and Inc. Magazine.
So what is the Happy Half Hour, and why are we doing podcasts? It started with an idea and about $900. Erin Chambers Smith started tossing around the podcast idea in the office, as they were reemerging in the media world. And San Diego Magazine is the kind of place where if you have an idea (that doesn’t require huge investment), can back it up with research or data, and can get a few other staffers excited about it, you can try it. So Erin and Digital Media Director David Martin convinced our publisher to buy four microphones and some stands. David, who’s also in a band, used his own sound mixer and set it all up on our conference room table. Our Food Critic Troy Johnson agreed to join as co-host and try it out. Arsalun Tafazoli was the first guest. “I texted him like the day before we were going to do it and just kind of begged that he stop by the office for a chat,” remembers Erin. “We are a very established brand, but the media landscape today requires us to be entrepreneurial, too,” says CEO and publisher Jim Fitzpatrick. “I love when new ideas come along, because it just means there’s more we can offer the audience.”
A thousand tiny tweaks from there, including upgraded equipment and the addition of food editor Archana Ram, and we’ve published 64 episodes, and secured sponsorships including YMCA, Petco and Kaaboo Del Mar. “We have a blast doing it. It’s just fun,” says Troy. Erin agrees. “There is something to be said for having fun,” she says. “Eating out is fun. There are serious issues involved in food, but it’s also about enjoying life and enjoying where we live. The food and drink community in San Diego is neat. It’s small and earnest, but also open about its challenges,” says Erin. “Feeding San Diegans, and our visitors, is a fascinating thing. Celebrating it, or skewering it, together with friends over drinks is what we’re trying to do.” “Making this podcast is the highlight of the week, says David. “It’s so rewarding to take a hobby and bring it to life here at the magazine. We have the most fascinating guests; I leave feeling I learned something rad after every recording session.”
In today’s media industry, to remain relevant to your audience, you’ve got to meet them where they are. We know our audience prides itself on supporting the local food and beer scene, so this was a natural extension of that. What’s next for the Happy Half Hour crew? We are actively securing sponsorships for the show through 2018, and the team plans to add in more segments devoted to neighborhoods, spirits, wine and beer.