Diving Deep in Holly Springs

Local podcast offers a new kind of news

Karen Shore created The Holly Springs Deep Dive Podcast to provide information about and access to candidates for local office.

Big Idea: Your life is directly, and closely, impacted by local government officials. You should know who they are.

“I did lots of ceremonial scissors lessons. They actually cut — there’s a technique to it,” says Karen Shore, marketing and social media expert and host of the Holly Springs Deep Dive Podcast.

First episode released: August 5, 2019

59 episodes produced

About 3 new episodes per month

Those ceremonial scissors tutorials were done in service of the Holly Springs Chamber of Commerce, where Shore, a longtime Holly Springs resident, worked for more than four years specializing in social media and event planning, most recently serving a five-month stint as the chamber’s interim executive director last summer.

“I was sitting at the chamber office planning the candidate forum,” Shore recalls. “And saw how few people came to it, because it was after work on a weeknight.”

Outside of those poorly attended campaign events, Shore noticed there were very few places to look for information about candidates for local office. And even fewer ways to get to know them outside of campaign jargon.

“That level of elected officials, they affect your life a lot more than the big races do. … I knew we deserted more, and I knew we weren’t going to get it from anywhere else.”

This realization prompted Shore to start the Holly Springs Deep Dive podcast.

“Through my work at the chamber, I had met so many people who I would need to talk to about government types of issues,” she says, which created easy introductions and conversations with guests on the show.

From the outset, Shore’s goal has been to get to know local candidates and podcast guests in a friendly, casual way — as if you were overhearing a conversation from the next booth at a neighborhood restaurant. She has no political agenda, and no desire for “gotcha journalism.”

The Huddle Room at the Holly Springs Coworking Station is specially equipped for digital media production like podcasts and videos.

“Different listeners have different mindsets and political leanings and social leanings. I don’t want to push an agenda. … I go into everything genuinely curious, because I want to know and I think listeners want to know.

“I just ask the questions, and people answer them truthfully, hopefully.” Ideally podcast interviews are conducted in the guests’ own home or offices, though during the last year, many were done virtually. Shore’s aim is for guests to be where they feel most comfortable.

“Hopefully people are able to forget that they are being recorded and just be themselves,” she says.

Interviewing candidates during election cycles continues to be one of her top priorities, but Shore also welcomes many guests outside of the government sector, including entrepreneurs, small business owners, nonprofit founders and community leaders.

Past guests include Matt and Christy Griffith of Pimiento Tea Room, town manager Randy Harrington, Coastal Plain League commissioner Justin Sellers, town council member Aaron Wolff and North Carolina senator Sydney Batch.

“My most meaningful (episodes) are when I talk to marginalized communities. … Hearing about experiences that you don’t normally hear about.”

Notably episode #39 entitled, “Being Black in Holly Springs,” which aired last summer on the heels of Black Lives Matter protests and demonstrations.

“Given Holly Springs’ history with the Black community as being predominantly a Black populace for so long, I thought it was important to hear from people in our community of color and their experiences,” Shore says. A podcast is no small undertaking. Each episode takes several hours coordinating with the guest up front, then additional time editing, uploading and announcing the show.

“It takes a lot of back and forth communication with the subjects. Getting them set up; making sure they know what I want to talk about and what my goals are. And making sure that I know what message they want to make sure they communicate with listeners,” Shore explains.

During the podcast, she lets the conversation flow back and forth, as if between friends, and doesn’t edit out content — aiming for full transparency and authentic personality.

“I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned you have to talk the right amount before you hit record. You have to talk enough that you calm the person down, but not so much that they have said everything they want to say. I’ve learned that I can’t wear noisy bracelets,” she says with a grin.

Shore welcomes guest and topic suggestions from the community.

“I use my connections and keep an eye on what’s going on. If I’m curious about something, I assume that other people are, too. I try to stay as engaged as I can.”

Shore recently accepted a full-time marketing position at North Carolina State University, but plans to continue producing the podcast, teasing an oral history project and a long-awaited interview with two downtown entrepreneurs to air in the coming months.

“I’m looking forward to the next election cycle. In a town like Holly Springs, where we are growing so much, it’s really very important to keep your eye on what local decisions are being made,” she says.

“The best community is an informed and engaged community, and that’s what my goal was — to give the people an easier route to becoming informed and engaged.”


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