By MATTHEW MEYER | Reporter
Asked to describe their on-air chemistry, hosts Brook Dougherty and Steve Cron are quick to draw parallels to “an old married couple.”
As one of the latest guests on their nascent podcast, I’d agree with that assessment, though that’s not as negative a characterization as it might sound.
They’re both knowledgeable, successful professionals with big personalities and sharp senses of wit. They’re also dear friends, and they let the aforementioned qualities clash into mild bouts of on-air bickering not unlike the playful banter of two good friends having drinks after work.
“We’re like a … couple that’s on the verge of getting divorced but can’t quite figure out what we’d do,” without each other, Cron said through laughter. “The Bickersons!” Dougherty interjected.
It’s a casual dynamic that podcasting—an exploding medium of audio entertainment that often listens like a less formal version of its grandfather, radio—lends itself to perfectly.
And it’s an encouraging sign for the success of their Palisades Podcast, because Cron and Dougherty are still relative newcomers to the medium.
They’ve launched boldly into a field that’s overwhelmingly popular with college students and young adults, but that hasn’t fully matriculated into the mainstream for preceding generations.
But the beauty of the downloadable audio shows is their low barrier to entry. Hosts with basic recording equipment and a topic to talk about can create podcasts from makeshift studios at home or in a conference room.
The content can be slickly produced like a radio show or an edit-free, stream of consciousness conversation; the subjects can be broad but are often incredibly niche.
That’s what originally drove the duo to found the Pali Podcast. They saw a niche that needed filling—a decidedly local show centered around interviews with the movers and shakers of Pacific Palisades, hopefully buoyed by local advertisers and ultimately serving as the foundation for a small network of local shows produced by young people.
Dougherty’s desire to create a haven for youth podcast production is just her latest venture in more than a decade of investing in LA’s students.
Since 2002, her nonprofit Young Angels Network has organized and sponsored a range of peer-produced events and fundraisers that teach young people about entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
They’ve included concerts and dances, comedy benefits and talent shows, and panels like their popular “Busted 101” event, where LAPD representatives, comedians and legal experts like Cron, a criminal justice attorney and Young Angels board member, gave frank and funny advice on knowing your rights and staying out of trouble.
Cron and Dougherty’s podcasting venture was born out of their continued desire to give students the tools they need to succeed as creators and businesspeople.
In 2015, Dougherty was struck by the immense potential of the increasingly affordable, portable means of media production.
Smartphones and small cameras producing crystal clear video and audio, plus social media platforms that made it possible for anyone to get their content online, had “leveled the playing field.”
Dougherty began to see it firsthand in the classrooms of Watts schools where Young Angels held afterschool programs. “If a kid had a phone, they could have a project,” she told the Palisadian-Post. “You don’t need financing. If you’ve got it, you can make it. And if you can make it, you can show it. And if it’s good, people will see it.
“You really can [just] be a kid with a phone and talent. I think that’s exciting.”
And in recognition of that promise, Young Angels’ mentorship approach has pivoted further toward do-it-yourself media production in recent years.
Podcasts fit naturally into that formula—but Dougherty said she isn’t interested in helping people produce content just for content’s sake.
In line with Young Angels’ goal to teach entrepreneurship, she wanted to explore a model for building a business around podcasts:
“We played with the idea—would it be interesting to create a local studio where we could sell ads to local businesses and teach young people how to become media producers?”
Through the Palisades Podcast, “we’re learning how to do that.”
Dougherty and Cron have put the concept into action, recording their own show from a cozy conference room at Wells Fargo off Sunset.
Guests have already included voice of the LA Rams Sam Lagana, Pacific Palisades Community Council Chair Maryam Zar, beloved Marquez Charter Elementary School teacher Jeff Lantos and, yes, yours truly.
Before I had a chance to interview them, the Pali Podcast duo turned the questions on me.
As Cron told it, “sometimes I’ve known our guests for 35 years; sometimes I’ve just met them today.” That was the case with my interview. “I know absolutely nothing about you,” he told me cheerily.
Perhaps a slight to a more distinguished guest, but it made sense in my case.
And Cron and Dougherty enjoy starting with the basics anyway. Their conversations with guests follow the general query: “How did you get to where you are today?”
Their casual chats are designed to unearth the surprising facts and unknown origins of familiar faces around town.
Cron’s style undoubtedly draws on his background as a criminal defense lawyer. His questions don’t stand alone—rather, they build on one another, creating a natural series of answers from his guests that form a coherent story or deeper insight.
Dougherty is fond of tying in local hot topics, and she loves to connect the dots between early experiences and her guest’s current status.
Their audio engineer, Keith McElhannon, brings the show together with precision and ease.
The affable Inglewood native and Cal State Northridge grad has worked for local mainstays KLOS and KABC, and he can also be found online and on-air on his very own Good News Radio Station.
“He’s taught us a lot,” Dougherty told the Post.
And as the Palisades Podcast continues to learn the ropes and seek advertising (they’ve already attracted two local sponsors), shows by young recruits have already started to emerge.
Young Angels mentee Mike Riley hosts his own “Uninformed States of America” podcast, and another show created by a pair of students from Palisades Charter High School and Crossroads School is due soon as well.
It’s a promising first foray for both Dougherty and Cron and the young people they mentor.
Make sure you tune in to hear it from the very start.
Download or stream the Palisades Podcast here.