SCV podcaster keeps it local and lively

Stephen Daniels interviewing Cameron Smyth before he was elected to the Santa Clarity City Council and appointed to the position of mayor. Photo courtesy of Chad Kampbell
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Stephen Daniels likes talking to people. He likes it even more when lots of other people listen in.

Daniels, a 49-year-old Kentucky native and, since 2007, Valencia resident, hosts “The Talk of Santa Clarita” podcast, which he began in August of 2015.

The podcast is a long-form, one-hour weekly sit-down with local people, discussing local issues with a guy who fell in love with Santa Clarita during his days as a film student at CalArts in the 1990s.

“It’s totally, 100 percent a community service,” said Daniels, who makes not a penny on the podcasts.

An unsuccessful candidate for City Council in 2014, Daniels is upfront on the ‘casts about his own “moderate progressive” leanings, whether he’s interviewing a conservative or some guest on the other end of the political spectrum.

It makes the broadcast a conversation, not a confrontation.

“I had run for Council in 2014, met a lot of people, and just got really interested in the issues around the city,’’ Daniels said of how the podcasts began.
Daniels generally posts a new podcast every Tuesday morning – though this week, “life got in the way” and the posting was slightly delayed.

This week’s guest is Phillip Germain, a 19-year-old College of the Canyons student who has founded a progressive political group called SCV UP – for Santa Clarita Valley United for Progress.

Daniels has also sat down with the likes of state Sen. Scott Wilk, Councilman Bob Kellar, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, as well as hosted debates among congressional, City Council and Saugus school board candidates, plus a wide range of local activists, elected and non-elected.

Mayor Cameron Smyth, he said, is a particular “friend of the show.”

This week’s Germain interview is Episode 62 since the show began.

“We try to interview just about anybody that’s got a good story, conservative or progressive,’’ Daniels said. “I’ll talk to anybody.”

Occasionally, one of Daniels’ guests will make news on the podcast, as when Malibu lawyer Kevin Shenkman – the plaintiffs’ attorney in the 2013 Voting Rights Act suit against Santa Clarita – went on and said the city might still be vulnerable to litigation over not having a districted voting system.

Daniels said he prefers doing the interviews in his guests’ houses – though the city council debates he hosted before the November election were held at the Newhall Library.

And he approaches each session leisurely and then warms up to the tougher questions over the course of the hour.

“I ask them why they live in Santa Clarita, where they grew up — I try to get to know the person as best I can,’’ he said.

When he’s not preparing his podcasts, Daniels is a full-time COC student, studying architecture. He said his master’s degree in film “didn’t work out” into a lucrative career, and that after being laid off last year from Covenant House, he decided, “I’ve got to find a career that pays.”

But around those studies, he finds time to log about four interviews each weekend, keeping a few in line for takeoff, so that he’s not pressed to produce another in time for those Tuesday postings.

“I love doing it (the podcast) because I like talking to people, and I like doing something for the community’’ Daniels said.

Editor’s Note: “The Talk of Santa Clarita” podcast is available online under the Community section of The Signal’s website.

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