Madison Minutes is partnering with City Cast to bring a daily podcast to Madison.
City Cast Madison episodes will feature about 15 minutes of local news, culture, and conversation from this kickass group of local journalists:
- Molly Stentz, who previously worked at WPR and WORT, is lead producer.
- Bianca Martin, a Wisconsin native who helped launch the nationally-syndicated public media program 1A and produced shows for NPR, WBEZ, and WORT, is the show's host.
- Dylan Brogan has joined as producer. You may know from his work as an Isthmus reporter and WORT contributor.
Q&A with the team
First off, who are you? Introduce yourself professionally and personally.
MOLLY: Hiya. I’ve been a journalist for two decades, mostly in audio. I was a manager at WORT radio for a long time and then at Wisconsin Public Radio. I am that one friend who is always reading the news and dying to tell you some random thing I learned. I will also, annoyingly, fact check you no matter who you are (it’s not my most endearing quality, I promise.) I love trivia. I love state capitols and will someday visit them all, though ours is one of the best I’ve seen. I know a fair amount about plants. I am a sucker for rescue dogs, especially short long ones (I have two… so far.)
BIANCA: Hi there. My name is Bianca Martin and I’m the host of City Cast Madison. I’m a proud UW-Madison alumnus and have worked in a series of jobs around town including at WORT, MMoCA, Merchant, Nattspil, Tempest Oyster Bar, and the U.S. Senate. I went on to work in public radio in D.C. and Chicago. My loves, in no particular order, are music, nature, dancing, and science. Oh, and food, OBVIOUSLY.
DYLAN: You might know me from my work at Isthmus and WORT 89.9 fm. I still contribute to both these local news outlets. It’s not easy to get rid of me.
What can listeners expect to hear in the podcast? What stories are you excited to tell?
MOLLY: We’re going to introduce you to all sorts of interesting people who live here. It’s like we’re throwing a party for the whole city in your living room, but you get to meet everyone we’ve invited one at a time. Which is the best way, in my opinion. (Team introvert, right here.).
We are collecting stories of cool things we’re doing right as a city, things that are just downright weird and curious, stuff you’ve always wondered about, and of course, the messy messed up parts, too.
BIANCA: You can expect our content to run the gamut of need to have convos across news and culture. From local politics to art shows and the up and coming restaurant everyone is talking about. I’m really very excited to tell under-reported stories from marginalized voices and generally find new and exciting things Madisonians are up to that I had NO idea were happening.
DYLAN: We want to capture the zeitgeist of Madison in all its forms. I hope City Cast Madison becomes a part of your day. That it helps you feel a sense of being in this city.
In your opinion, what makes Madison unique?
MOLLY: We seem pretty committed to trying to make local government and democracy work — and I do not take that for granted, having lived in bigger cities where corruption and dysfunction were normal parts of life. And this may sound cheesy, but I’ve never lived anywhere where people were so profoundly decent, like random-strangers-push-your-car-out-of-the-snow decent. Of course horrible things happen here too, but not anywhere near the rate I’ve seen elsewhere.
And we’re one of only two major cities in the country located on an isthmus, so there’s that. (And we have more seasons than just rain… so take that, Seattle!)
BIANCA: Our sense of community. I think that folks in Madison are really quite generous with their time and energy and so many genuinely care about fostering and nurturing public spaces that we all then benefit from.
DYLAN: Everyone in this town has an amazing side gig, enthusiasm, or creative pursuit. Madison runs on passion and talent isn’t defined by who writes your paycheck.
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about Madison?
MOLLY: That we’re a sleepy college town in a boring part of the country where nothing happens. If you’ve never been here, you probably don’t truly get it. Let’s face it, we’re not braggers. But we have an impressive history of changing the country (mostly for the better) and we continually produce and attract talented, creative, hard-working, caring people who get things done.
On the other hand, whenever we win these ‘best city’ accolades, I think it betrays our serious problems. Most cities are great places to live if you’re rich and powerful. But that ain’t most of us. We have work to do.
BIANCA: I don’t know that Madison is so easy to characterize in broad strokes to begin with, that said, perhaps I could see some outsiders underestimating how much stimulating art and creative work is happening here. To be honest, it’s bursting at the seams and folks really work hard to share their work. Mad-town’s creative and intellectual forces are world class. It’s delicious.
DYLAN: That Madison is supposedly receiving more than its fair share of resources from the state. Our city is an enormous asset to Wisconsin — so is Milwaukee by the way. I think a lot of the divide in state politics is rooted in misconception.
Time for some hot takes! What are the most underrated and overrated people/places/things in town?
MOLLY: Underrated: For me, it’s the everyday stuff. I love our parks. Our libraries are impressive. We have neighborhood farmers markets all over the city almost every day of the week. Also, I have come to appreciate having a local airport. For years, I’d trek to Chicago at any hour for the cheap flights, but now I am team Madison all the way. It’s just so quick and 100% less hassle these days.
Overrated: Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. I said it. I mean they’re definitely more interesting than your average box. But we can do better.
BIANCA: It’s hard for anything really good to go underrated in Mad-town for too long because so many of us are such go-getters checking out new spots. But I guess one spot I LOVE that is tucked away, but artsy and great is Imaginary Factory. Love the vibe and the cocktails are fresh af.
Overrated: Badger days? Sorry(ish). I am a proud alum and rooting for our Bucky Badgers OBVIOUSLY, but if I had to say SOMETHING, it’d be that in the realm of what’s most visible. The city has a ton to offer in addition to that Fall Saturdays sea of red, that is if you’re less into college football.
DYLAN: My hot take: Let’s have way more alders. Madison is growing and so should representation on the Common Council. I think more voices are underrated and efficient public meetings are overrated. I have no beef with famous architects.
Anything else you want to add about the podcast (or life in general).
MOLLY: Ok, so here’s my random list of Madison Things That Just Don’t Make Sense:
- Why don’t we have good public transit to the airport from downtown?
- Why can’t a city of our size support more late-night restaurants?
- Why don’t we have a better way of dealing with all the stuff generated by UW move-out week by now?
- Why do Madison schools have such random start and end times?
- For as much research and business as we have here, why don’t we have free public wifi all over the county?
- Why does no one want our seven-floor hot dog factory?
- We won’t talk about the state of the lakes. We all know.
BIANCA: I’m outrageously excited to just get into it and find out what Madisonians are up to of late. What projects are astir, what scientific breakthroughs are we on the brink of. Also, I just met a couple from Tennessee who moved to Madison a year ago and they said they didn’t love it so far. They live a bit on the outskirts of town, and all I could think was: oh my goodness! someone needs to tell them about the things! AKA the festivals, the shows, the food, the community. So insert City Cast Madison and why the podcast is going to rock. And more broadly about life, I’m currently reading (for fun) a book about the nature of time, theories about the metaverse, ya know.
DYLAN: Madison is a great place to live because a lot of people work hard for it to be a great place to live. Loving this city means always striving to make it better.