When Lakewood resident Katie Tackett started her Muse Room podcast in late 2018, fellow podcaster Katie Dalebout of Let It Out shared some sage wisdom: “Podcasting is the new networking.” This assertion rings true for just about every podcaster—affording the chance to curate a dream lineup of interviewees and gather compelling insights and anecdotes—and we listeners get to go along for the ride.
Check out these five Cleveland-based podcasts for a fresh dose of inspiration, from Cleveland's most fascinating Jews to Tackett's take on the creative muse.
Justin Glanville and Julian Khan
If you love Shaker Square, you'll love...This is Shaker Square. As the oldest shopping district in Ohio—and the second oldest in the country—Shaker Square is ripe for reimagining, and that’s exactly what LAND Studio and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress have paired up to do as the area approaches its 90th birthday. Currently the team is in the midst of a nine-month planning, design, and strategic implementation process to make Shaker Square more “accessible, functional, and friendly for all,” with plans to announce its vision to the public in June 2019.
As part of the process, Justin Glanville and Julian Khan have teamed up for “This is Shaker Square,” a five-episode podcast that explores the history, current state, and future of the area. “When LAND and CNP were in the conceptual phases of doing this, [our partner] the Cleveland Foundation said it would be great to include a storytelling segment as part of the outreach,” shares Glanville, who spearheads Sidewalk, a storytelling-based business that specializes in place-related content.
Now four episodes in, the podcast takes listeners on a journey from the area's original native settlement to the arrival of the Shaker religious sect to the Van Sweringens’ vision all the way through today. To research the various historical aspects, Glanville spoke with Brian Redmond of Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Dr. Ware Petnick of the Shaker Historical Society, while Khan reserved up to 50 books at a time from the library to “jump down the rabbit hole” of Shaker Square’s story.
“There’s this space here that’s managed to exist for 90 years—that alone begs for appreciation,” says Khan. “It warrants a deep dive about what made it what it is today. I appreciate the intentionality in creating something like this.”
The podcast also features modern-day movers and shakers including EDWINS’ Brandon Chrostowski and Joe Dawson, Donita Anderson of the North Union Farmers Market, and Cleveland Police Fourth District Commander Brandon Kutz. This Saturday, April 13, Glanville and Khan will hold the last of nine stops on a “listening tour” designed to connect with the community. (See link for time and place.)
Khan says the project has given him a deeper appreciation of the vast scope of the project’s undertaking, and he hopes listeners will take away understanding as well. “From episode one to episode six, it’s hard not to appreciate the exhaustive process of the design, the due diligence that bookends [this plan],” says Khan. “What’s in between is a lot of care and love for Shaker Square and the city of Cleveland.”
Rachel and Robin RoodIf you love Cleveland's diverse culture, you'll love...Cleveland Schmooze. Mother-daughter team Robin and Rachel Rood are the mensches behind the Cleveland Schmooze podcast, which highlights Cleveland’s Jewish culture, history, and notable figures. “My mom jokes that I started this podcast with her as a Hanukkah present,” says Rachel.
In actuality, the Roods laid the foundation for their current collaboration when they co-produced Lech L’cha, a documentary about their synagogue, B’Nai Jeshurun Congregation, that was shown at the Chagrin Documentary Film Festival in 2011.
“When I moved back to Cleveland a few years ago, we discovered we both have a civic and historical interest in our culture and community and thought a podcast would be a fun avenue to try,” says Rachel, who works as a public radio producer at Ideastream.
Enter Cleveland Schmooze, which has two seasons’ worth of interviews with Jewish locals such as LGBT rights activist Gregg Levine, playwright Faye Sholiton, and mother-daughter entrepreneur duo Kay Greenwald and Natalie Winer of Cake Bites and Other Delights. Mom Robin curates the content and recruits interviewees, while Rachel handles the technical work of editing and uploading episodes.
Some of Rachel’s favorite podcasts have been food-centric, “learning about the history of the Davis Bakery from the Davis family, and hearing about how Fire chef Doug Katz got his start,” says Rachel. “Plus, we got to take home some rye bread and cake bites in those episodes, which was an added bonus.”
Overall, Rachel hopes listeners take away the diversity within Cleveland’s Jewish community through the wide array of guests featured. “We want to show that while the people we interview are all of the Jewish faith, that doesn't mean that we all live the same way or even practice the same way,” she says. “There's a lot of diversity among us and a lot of interesting perspectives to share about Judaism and beyond.”
Vicki Kotris of A Confetti-Filled Life
If you love feel-good inspiration, you'll love...The Confetti-Filled Life. Vicki Kotris first found her inspiration for The Confetti-Filled Life at a She in the CLE gathering in 2018. “She in the CLE hosted a blogger workshop that was one of the most magical kinds of meetups,” says Kotris. “There were lots of women business owners and entrepreneurs there who wanted to get better at self-promotion and learn how to use blogging to scale their businesses. It sparked something in me that there were stories that needed to be told of women doing really cool and inspiring things in my backyard.”
Kotris now highlights those stories in The Confetti-Filled Life, which shares stories of women “helping to create a wave of female empowerment around the world.” Local interviewees to date have included Anjua Maximo of GrooveRyde, mentalist Stacy Allan, and Maria LeFebre of Your Local Girl Gang, and Freshly Rooted owner Alysha Ellis. “The day I did my first interview changed my life, and it continues to change me as a person,” says Kotris.
According to Kotris, the concept of a “confetti-filled life” is one that was sparked by her unofficial status as “the social chair of my family and friend group. I love finding fun things to do and gravitate towards a party atmosphere,” says Kotris. “I wanted A Confetti-Filled Life to embody that both figuratively and metaphorically. I think when we shine a light on the fun, joyful parts of our lives, we see that create a ripple effect in those around us. When we see people achieving their dreams, we start to believe that anything is possible and that’s something to toss confetti on.”
If you love history, you'll love...Cleveland Voices. It’s easy to get lost on the Cleveland Voices website, home of more than 1,000 oral history interviews collected since 2002—documenting everything from the evolution of the Cleveland Cultural Gardens to the process of racial integration in Cleveland Heights and Shaker Heights in the 1950s through 1970s. These oral histories have been exhaustively compiled as a project of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities at Cleveland State University Department of History.
Recent Cleveland State graduate Sarah Nemeth took the Cleveland Voices project one step further when she started a related podcast. According to Nemeth, the podcast meshes the "place-based narratives found on Cleveland Historical" with both previously and recently collected oral histories from community members.
Nemeth's task? To weave the mounds of material together in a compelling fashion. "My job is to write a script that attempts to tell the complex and intricate story of Cleveland's neighborhoods that is not one-sided, but is as dynamic and vibrant as Cleveland's neighborhood districts are and have been historically,” she shares.
The first two-part series of the podcast focuses on Detroit Shoreway with more than 30 oral histories (including councilman Matt Zone and late judge Ray Pianka), stemming from work Nemeth had done during a summer off from graduate school. The second series focuses on Coventry, and Nemeth hopes to start work on the second part this summer.
Nemeth says there was no shortage of source material for Coventry, both from “the large number of Cleveland Historical narratives already published and the hours and hours of oral history material previously collected on Cleveland Heights,” as well as her own work gathering additional oral histories from community groups, cold calls, social media, and other means. (One episode can take Nemeth as long as nine months to complete.)
Though the work was extensive, Nemeth says her findings were fascinating. “I found the transition in Coventry from a primarily Jewish enclave to a hippie hangout the most interesting,” says Nemeth. “Everyone knows that Coventry was Cleveland's counterculture hub, but to hear and read about the transition is quite a different story.”
Katie Tackett of Muse RoomIf you love creativity, you'll love...Muse Room. For much of her life, Katie Tackett dreamt of becoming a professional ballerina, and she stayed the course through her early 20s—studying at the College Conservatory of Music, training with the Cincinnati Ballet, and eventually taking a job with Neos Dance Theatre. But Tackett eventually felt the pull to do something different.
“After years of focusing so much on dance, I realized I had a lot of untapped creativity,” says Tackett. “I wanted to create an identity outside of dance, and I also wanted to find community.”
Tackett checked off all of those boxes by starting the Muse Room podcast, on which Tackett interviews creative types and small business owners—both local and national. Some of her favorite interviews to date include Stephanie Sheldon of the Cleveland Flea, Cat Lantigua of the Chats with Cat podcast, and Alexis Rosen and Gia Fantozzi Paulovich of Creative Babes Cleveland.
“When I am looking for guests to interview, I am looking for people that are creative and are doing the work that they truly want to be doing,” says Tackett. “I want to help empower listeners to design a life that is truly authentic to them, so I want to provide the inspiration to do that.”
Along with the podcast, Tackett has also started Muse Reading Room, a book club event series, and Muse Room Media, which offers podcast production and coaching services to newbie podcasters. It’s all part of creating the sense of community that Tackett herself once craved and now enjoys. Says Tackett, “Muse Room has helped me build a community that inspires me everyday to keep moving.“
Senior news editor Karin Connelly Rice contributed reporting to this story.