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League Launches Municipal Equation, a Podcast for Local Government 

By Ben Brown, NCLM Advocacy Communication Associate

The League made a digital ripple on June 21 when it debuted its new podcast, Municipal Equation, as the Internet’s newest way to discuss the intersection of local government and stellar communities, with a focus on sharing great ideas designed to bring broad benefits. It’s been a hugely fun project with a lot of positive feedback, and you can find it on our website, nclm.org, or at soundcloud. com/municipalequation. It’s also on iTunes and popular podcast apps like Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn and Overcast. Just search the name.

When we launched Municipal Equation, we imagined you might’ve been thinking one of three things:

1. "This is just what I’ve been waiting for; it’s so engaging and informative!"

2. "Great, yet another podcast."

3. "Wait, I’m not entirely sure what a podcast is…."

All valid, we believe. Let’s address them in reverse order. Podcasts are, in the most popular sense, radio-like shows posted to the Internet. In fact, many terrestrial radio shows, like This American Life or the TED Radio Hour, are doubly available as podcasts, because listeners increasingly want the Internet (instead of the radio dial) to be their access point to the shows that they love. But the vast majority of podcasts are produced without any connection to any radio station or network. As is the case with Municipal Equation, they’re produced with standard audio equipment and uploaded to websites where anyone can download them or stream them at their leisure. Easy.

Okay, on to that second possible thought – "…yet another podcast." Exactly. The number of podcasts currently available online isn’t certain, but estimates and directories indicate upward of 270,000 across 100 different languages. That’s a lot, hitting every niche you can imagine, same as print magazines. But when we launched Municipal Equation, it wasn’t just to join the bandwagon. It was in recognition of how audiences are getting their info these days, making for an advancement in the League’s communications and persistent focus on good government and great communities. The aim is to reach a broader audience and to create a new forum to showcase leaders, ideas, success stories and emerging issues of importance to municipalities. Episode Two ("The Municipal Infrastructure Quandary"), for one, was all about the daunting challenge of infrastructure funding. We focused on a recent, national study that found that the financial burden of infrastructure maintenance was increasingly falling to municipal government – a crisis, for sure. To get a handle on it, we talked with one of the study’s authors. We talked with state legislators. And we talked with the head of a city public utilities department, who had a creative solution that’s been softening the infrastructure strain there. The episode circled the topic with variety, perspective and actionable takeaways, on a running-time of 20-some minutes (perfect for your drive to or from work, we might add). That’s our approach – find a topic of interest to municipalities, and have a useful conversation in a new format that more and more people are listening to.

Hopefully, many of you were thinking, "This is just what I’ve been waiting for; it’s so engaging and informative!" Thank you for saying so! We have a lot in store for the podcast – interviews with authors who specialize in municipalities; spotlights on innovation; new tech solutions for city hall; brainstorms on shared challenges – and we hope it gives you great ideas or conversations that you can apply to your city or town. That’s the point. Idea-sharing. And if you have a novel idea or a great success story from your municipality, please let us know. It could make for a great Municipal Equation feature. And we want you to be a part of the equation.