Pod and Market
Summary: The “Pod & Market” podcast grew out of several conversations amongst Newarkers, lamenting the decline of traditional forms of media and journalism in Newark (like newspapers) and the lack of a central forum for discussion of issues facing the City of Newark. While not the first or only discussion podcast in Newark, the topics of the podcast can be as general as gentrification and as narrow as the construction of a single building. The only connection between episodes will be their connection to Newark.
If you find yourself walking down Halsey Street lately, you may have noticed that several of the previously empty storefronts are now filled with interesting concepts and brand new retail experiences. Most (if not all) of these new experiences are being spearheaded by Newarkers: from Boss Blend to Halsey Co. to 19B to Brown Mill. As COVID restrictions have begun to subside and people begin to feel safe hanging out in groups, the bustle usually associated with Halsey Street is slowly returning, due in no small part to these startups. One of these new retail spots is part of Brick City Varsity, a Newark-obsessed brand offering immersive pop-up shopping experiences and photography. The pop-up is the brainchild of Larry Lyons and offers cintage clothing (and, on some special nights, karaoke in the back). Larry comes on the podcast this week to discuss his business, his identity, and other musings about life, art, and the world at large.
Being the host of a podcast in Newark means constantly keeping your ear to the ground to see who else is part of or joining the conversation. It is always interesting to see what other podcasts are sharing the Newark story to a broader audience. Which is why it’s so exciting to have Roger C. Tucker III come onto the podcast to discuss his own journey and his show. Roger is the host of “What’s Newark Got to do With It?,” a biweekly podcast that features interviews with artists, historians, authors, curators, and other cultural though leaders through the city. The conversations on the show delve into the cultural impact and lifelong influences the city has, and continues to have, on their lives and careers. Each episode is truly a deep dive into the history of Newark.
This is a very special episode. After more than a year of recording remotely, we had the opportunity to record onsite and in-person. And what a place to launch our first in-person recording in such a long time. ODR Studios sits in the heart of the Ironbound and is a gorgeous place. It is a curated 4,500 square foot industrial loft about a five minute walk from Penn Station that offers a wide array of studio services for filming, photography, and audio production. It also has a 5,000 square foot workshop below the studio space. ODR has been the setting for music videos, documentaries, fashion shorts, and a whole host of other productions. Alex Hodgkinson is the founder of ODR Studios and joins the podcast to talk about what he loves about the space, how he manages it, and his story.
In 2017, Newark First Fridays launched as an inclusive community event to showcase emerging artists, makers, artisan food vendors, musicians, and street performers. The event was meant to address the death of open air markets in the city’s downtown while also attempting to connect disparate shows and events in the area. On the first Friday of each month, the program would host a downtown artwalk, as well as dozens of artisanal food and crafts vendors, augmented by street performances and workshops, specially highlighting local businesses, galleries, and creative spaces who would open their doors during these evenings. Over the last five years, Newark First Fridays has grown to include photo launch parties, wine tastings, a monthly comedy show, and countless after-parties. Several guests of the podcast have been featured as a part of Newark First Fridays, whether it was Gabe Ribeiro or Samantha Katehis selling their products at vendor booths in Military Park or Marcy DePina DJing a party during one of the Fridays or John Ward hosting a wine tasting. Despite the COVID-19 crisis, Newark First Fridays continued online with cocktail class livestreams, Zoom interviews, and other virtual events. In time for its 5th year, Newark First Fridays will come back for a mix of virtual, in-person, and hybrid events later this spring.
Pivotable: An Interview and Conversation with Marcy DePina
Maria Lopez-Nunez and Christian Rodriguez of the ICC come on to discuss environmental justice and the fight against a proposed waste facility.
This episode, we turn the tables around. As part of our season finale, my friend, danmexlar, thought it would be fun to ask me some questions about the podcast and Newark. At first, I was hesitant, as, despite my best efforts, I am always trying to push the focus of the show off me and onto the subject at hand. I warmed up to the idea though, as it would give me a chance to reflect on the show after two years of hosting and producing it. This is a bit free flowing as episodes go, so please excuse the slightly different format. You are in store for a really interesting conversation.
At the corner of Prospect and Ferry Streets, a restaurant had a quiet opening. The usual fanfare around grand openings had to wait. The Ironbound was in the grips of a pandemic that brought the usually bustling thoroughfare to a mute standstill. Nevertheless, SIhana set its tables and opened its doors to the community, presenting a fresh new take on a space to eat, hang out, and absorb art. Kreshnik Berisha, one of the founders and owners of Sihana, joins the pod to discuss the unique mission of Sihana and what it is like to open a space during what may be the most challenging epoch in this city’s history—at least in the last 50 years..
Design Challenge, Challenging Times: An Interview and Conversation with Erin Sweeney and Schools That Can
Newark Symphony Hall remains one of the most iconic performance venues in Newark, as well as in New Jersey. Constructed in 1925 at a cost of $2M, the space has been the home of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the New Jersey State Opera, McDonald’s Gospelfest, the New Jersey Ballet, the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and the Newark Boys Choir School. Performers over the years have included Judy Garland, Bob Dylan, Patti Labelle, Richard Pryor, Amalia Rodrigues, Gladys Knight, the Rolling Stones, Parliament Funkadelic, Tony Bennet, and Eric Clapton. It has even been used for state funerals of prominent Newarkers (including Amiri Baraka and Jerry Gant) and weddings that have been featured in the New York Times. However, Symphony Hall is also a reflection of the city itself. The space hit a sustained period of disinvestment and funding shortages over the last few decades (the space was definitely not neglected). Though the space is in dire need of renovation and capital investment, it is still an active performance and community space. Taneshia Nash Laird, CEO and President of the venue since 2018, has undertaken an ambitious campaign to bring renewed attention to Symphony Hall and to restore and update the building. She is unique, as she is the only Black woman leading a performing arts center in the state. She is a self-professed entrepreneur, social change agent, and community developer, with a background in economic development and the arts, having led the Arts Council of Princeton and served as a director of economic development in Trenton. She is also an adjunct professor at Drexel University (in their entertainment and arts management program). Guest: Taneshia Nash Laird—Taneshia Nash Laird is a social change agent and community developer who centers cultural equity in her work. She is the President and CEO of Newark Symphony Hall, a historic performing arts center located within the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Newark, NJ. Since her appointment in November 2018, she has expanded programming to respond to community needs and announced plans to restore the 1925 vintage concert hall in a $40 million renovation and leverage it for neighborhood revitalization in a process she calls Symphony Works. Background & Articles: Newark Symphony Hall’s Official Page: here Nonprofit Finance Fund Interview with Taneshia: here CBS Piece on NSH: here “The Soul of Newark Symphony Hall”: here New York Times Profile of Wedding Held in NSH: here Amalia Rodrigues’ Performance at Symphony Hall [believed]: here Quote: “Science, knowledge, logic and brilliance might be useful tools but they didn’t build highways or civil service systems. Power built highways and civil service systems. Power was what dreams needed, not power in the hand of the dreamer himself necessarily but power put behind the dreamer’s dream by the man who it to put there, power that he termed “executive support”.”—Robert Caro, The Power Broker
Kai Campbell left the world of Newark politics and development to try his hand at a venerable city tradition, food creation and service. Kai was no stranger to this area of work, coming from a long line and tradition of chefs and restaurant managers in his family. He has since flourished and is the impresario behind three newly minted Newark institutions: Walla, a South Asian style burger join; Bragman’s, a decades old Jewish deli in the South Ward; and the Yard, a soon to open outdoor eatery and bar. Kai comes on the pod to discuss how he came to this business, his hopes for the city, and what it will take for more restaurants to flourish.
Newark has always been a city with a rich food tradition. It's now at the crossroads of maintaining that tradition while expanding into new fields. Charlie Shelton, head chef at Barcade, joins the podcast to talk about what's good to eat, what Newark should do to support its food culture, and what it takes to be a food-centric city.
Newark has come to a standstill. Businesses are closed. Newarkers are sheltering in place. The podcast explores what this means for the city and its residents.
Our second season begins with a special guest, Liz DelTufo. Liz has led the effort to preserve this city's cultural landmarks and historical sites for the past 50 years. On this episode, she shares her journey in this city and some of the anecdotes from her fights to protect our unique look.
Have you ever wondered about to visualize sound, especially in an artistic medium? What would it look like? How would it feel? Wolfgang Gil, local artist and principal at the Honk Tweet, explores these questions through his design and his art. Based out a studio in Project for Empty Space, Wolfgang designs mixed-reality experiences that highlight the visual potential of sound. Join the pod as we discuss his art and his upcoming exhibit at the Newark Museum of Art.