'Bittersweet' ending for Edmonton's long-running Unknown Studio podcast
Hyperlocal interview show did 125 episodes over six and a half years.
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After six and a half years and 125 episodes, the hosts of one of Edmonton’s longest-running podcasts are hanging up their headsets.
Just before Christmas, Adam Rozenhart and Scott Bourgeois did their last episode of the Unknown Studio, an Edmonton-focused show on which they chatted up everyone from entomologists to journalists to the mayor.
“It’s bittersweet,” Bourgeois says. “But we wanted the show to end on our terms, rather than fade away like other podcasts.”
Both Rozenhart and Bourgeois say other projects and full time jobs—Rozenhart is a social-media strategist, among other things, and Bourgeois works for CHED—have made it hard to eke out time for the Unknown Studio, but also that the podcast scene in Edmonton has grown to the point where they’re ready to hand off the baton.
“That niche is being filled with other people. I’d like to say maybe they’re even doing better than we are, but we gave them that starting point from which to launch,” Bourgeois says.
The two, both alumni of the Gateway at the University of Alberta, connected over Twitter right as podcasting was enjoying a surge in popularity, and they were among the first to use the new technology to establish a hyperlocal focus on the city.
When asked about the origins of the show, Rozenhart is blunt: “Six and a half years ago, people still thought Edmonton was a complete shithole.”
But they had an inkling the city was more interesting than that, and set out to prove it by interviewing the people who’d shaped the city. The first season was recorded after hours at the radio station Bourgeois worked for, before they raised enough money to buy their own equipment.
Rozenhart says that with their long-form format, the steepest learning curve came with figuring out what kind of interviewers they wanted to be.
“At first you start wanting to be buddies with everyone you interview,” he says, “and after awhile it’s like, ‘Screw this, I want some information out of these people.’”
“I think we got really good at putting people at ease and softening the ground so they could tell the stories we were interested in hearing and we knew our listeners wanted to hear.”
Rozenhart’s favourite interview was science-fiction writer David Gerrold, who’s written for Star Trek and came to Edmonton for a literary event.
Bourgeois remembers early interviews with entomologist Peter Daly and reporter Jeremy Lye that allowed them to establish their chops as interviewers early on.
Both say the podcast taught them to see the city in a new way.
“When I was in my mid-20s I knew I was going to leave this place, that this place was the worst,” Rozenhart says, but the podcast opened his eyes to what was happening in the city.
Bourgeois agrees. “Edmonton has a bit of a self esteem problem and people often look elsewhere,” he says.
“It became a mission to tell people what a great place this is, and that they should put down roots.”