A Psychedelic Western with David Weinberg

A Psychedelic Western with David Weinberg
A Psychedelic Western with David Weinberg

Dec 14 2023 | 00:37:15

Episode December 14, 2023 00:37:15

Hosted By

Stuart Barefoot

Show Notes

On this episode of the Audience podcast, Stuart and David talk about his limited series, Dreamtown, the Story of Adelanto. David shares his expertise on podcasting and storytelling in general. It can be difficult to tell someone else’s story compassionately and compellingly. Dreamtown aims to do that for–not only–the main character, but also the town of Adelanto. He also touches on the importance of being able to explain your podcast in one sentence, what to do when your story evolves during the production process, and the reason why he chose to use a narrator (who wasn’t him).

David Weinberg grew up in Colorado and moved around for a while until he found himself in New Orleans. There he got his start in radio, writing and creating stories for WWOZ. He was a staff reporter at Marketplace and KCRW where he hosted the podcast Welcome to LA podcast. Welcome to LA was named one of the best podcasts of 2018 and 2020. His latest project is Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto. His print work has been published in The New York Times. 

If you have any questions about this episode or want to get some of the resources we mentioned, head over to Castos.com/podcast. And as always, if you’re enjoying the show please share it with someone who you think would enjoy it as well. It is your continued support that will help us continue to help others. Thank you so much! Never miss another show by subscribing at castos.com/subscribe.

Today you’ll learn about:

  • David’s journey from freelance to radio to podcasting
  • The story behind Dreamtown
  • Finding the focus of your story and staying true to your vision
  • Establishing trust with guests and interviewees
  • Reasons behind the use of a narrator 
  • The sound design for Dreamtown
  • David’s next big project
  • How David gets his story ideas


David C Weinberg: https://www.davidcweinberg.com/about-1 

Dreamtown: https://crooked.com/podcast-series/dreamtown-the-story-of-adelanto/ 

Castos Academy: https://academy.castos.com/ 

Castos, private podcast: https://academy.castos.com/privatepodcast/ 

Castos, website: https://castos.com/ 

Castos, YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/castos  

Clubhouse video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8729ZpWpmIw 

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: What is your story about? If you have a podcast or really any type of creative project, then that seems like a pretty simple question. On the surface. It's generally a question that anyone who has ever successfully pitched a show or an idea has had to answer at some point. It's really not meant to be a trick question or anything like that. But what happens when the premise of a show, the plot, and the main characters all change in real time? [00:00:28] Speaker B: So many multi part series, there's like a very clear through line like this happened. These are the characters that went through it, and this felt a little more challenging to tell. And so that was what felt risky, like, oh, does it make sense for us to try to be telling all of these people's stories in one series, or are we trying to do too much? [00:00:50] Speaker A: Next, David Weinberg talks about his limited series, Dreamtown, the story of Adelanto. My name is Stuart, and this is audience, a castos original series where we go behind the scenes of all different kinds of podcasts to uncover their creative process. But before we get to all the creative stuff, here's just a quick note for the podcasters out there. Creativity is the most important part of the process, and without it, your podcast or your show probably won't get very far. But you also need a support system, which usually means money. We can help you there. Casos let you monetize all of your episodes, even the old ones, with a press of a button. There's no chasing sponsors, no extra editing work, none of the headache. You can even tap into your own support network. Let your audience directly support your podcast through onetime or recurring donations with castus commerce. For more information, check out the links in the show notes. Okay, let's get back into it. [00:01:58] Speaker B: Basically, that's how I learned how to really make radio. I mean, the foundation of a lot of my skills came out of being at just. [00:02:06] Speaker A: David Weinberg started out as a freelance radio reporter, cutting his teeth on local stories. Eventually, he landed a gig on marketplace, a nationally syndicated radio show from american public media. [00:02:19] Speaker B: It was also just exciting. I was very, very happy to have a job in radio. Up until then, I had just been freelancing, which is a very. You don't get to do a lot of work when you're a freelancer, especially back then, there were no podcasts, so it was like I could file a story for marketplace every couple of months and do a few stories for the local radio. And so it's hard to get good at something if you're not doing a lot of it. But then when I got hired at Marketplace, I was doing like 100 stories a year. I mean, when you're on spot duty, it's almost every day. You get your assignment at 830 in the morning, and then it has to be on the air by 02:00 p.m. So it was fun and exciting. And also my editor there, this guy George Judson, he had been at the New York Times for a long time, and that was also where I got my education and how to be a journalist. Because I didn't go to journalism school, I don't have a college degree. And I just sort of figured out how to make a story on my own and then figured out how to pitch them. But I lacked a lot of just like, the basic rules and things you should know about being a journalist that I learned. So it was like a very valuable experience in terms of learning things. And I loved it. And it was very cool to be on the radio. Marketplace is a huge show. My family could hear me on the radio most days. That was really an amazing experience. And after about three years of that, I was just like, okay, now I want to do long form. I want to spend time with people and stretch things out. And so, yeah, it was kind of like the perfect. It worked well in that I had this education and I did it until I decided I wanted to do something different. [00:03:56] Speaker A: So he started pitching to shows like 99% invisible and began making long form podcasts. One called welcome to LA, about his experience moving to Los Angeles, an eight part series called the Superhero Complex, and an experimental show called Random Tape. For his latest project, he joined forces with crooked media to create a limited series called Dreamtown, the story of Adelanto. It was a town in California that David had been covering for various freelance gigs. And while he was there, he learned of a plan that an eccentric out of towner had to improve the place. In the years that followed, the town would rally around legalizing medical marijuana to boost the economy, which worked out until it didn't. In the aftermath, a small town would be turned on, its head rocked by a made for tv type of drama, or as David describes it, a psychedelic western. And he had a front row seat to the whole thing. [00:04:59] Speaker B: It's a small town, just under 30,000 people. It's in the high desert, so it's about an hour and a half from Los Angeles in the Mojave. And if people do know about it, they usually know about it as a prison town. California's largest immigration detention facility is there. There's also another prison in town, a third prison just on the outskirts of town. And for many, many years, the main economic driver, the largest employer was these prisons. And then in 2014, this curious, sort of right wing hippie character named bug pitched this idea to the city because they were going bankrupt. They've always struggled financially as a city. There was a lot of promises that prisons would solve that, but then the prisons didn't really solve that problem. They continuously had budget deficits, and they were kind of throwing around this idea of maybe just calling it a quits as a city and closing everything down, letting the county take them over. And then in the midst of this guy, Bug ran for the city council, and his pitch was, why don't we legalize commercial weed cultivation, which had never been done in southern California, and it would be a way for the city to get rich. And when I heard about that, my interest was immediately picked, because the thing about is, it's a pretty conservative place. I know California is known as a liberal state, but it's a very conservative part of the state. And so it was a curious thing to me that a town that was this conservative would be trying to do this very progressive thing that had not really been done. So that's when I started going up there. I started interviewing bug and just sort of following the early stages of this path that the city was setting on to basically try to transition their economy away from prisons and into the world of cannabis. And then the shit hit the fan, and all this crazy stuff happened. After I had done these initial short stories, and a lot of the people I interviewed ended up charged with crimes, and it was like, oh, I should go back to Atlanta and keep following the story. Yeah. [00:07:05] Speaker C: In many ways, this story is absolutely bonkers. And I think it's one of those things where it's like, you listen to the first episode, and wherever you think the story is going, you're wrong, because it. I don't think anyone could have predicted. [00:07:23] Speaker B: Yeah. After I started going back and reporting, and I was kind of figuring, like, well, what is the story now that there is this kind of large scale corruption that had been happening, I kind of envisioned the story as, like, the structure of it as, like a crossfade. You kind of open with this big story, and these characters in the beginning of it, they sort of, like, fade away. And then these other characters who you meet at the beginning who aren't really aware they're important, they kind of rise. And it's sort of this, like, that's sort of how I imagined the series would if I was going to sort of give it like an image. It's just this. By around episode three, there's this sort of shift that happens and you're like, oh, this is actually story about this person. And so it was fun to try to figure out how to do. [00:08:01] Speaker C: Yeah, like, how did you make that decision to be like, this isn't about bug anymore. I'm not going to follow him. You stayed in Adelanto. [00:08:09] Speaker B: I guess I was not particularly interested in making, like, a straightforward true crime show, which I think you could have done. I think someone could have easily just kind of stretched out eight episodes about what happened with Bug and the other members of the council and the crime. But that wasn't super interesting. The other sort of logistical issue was that bug wasn't around to talk to. I kind of got what I needed from bug. He's not a particularly self reflexive, deep person, so it's hard to hang a whole series around someone like that. On top of that, the people that committed the crimes alongside, they wouldn't talk to me. There's a lot of bribery stuff. The people that had been accused of making the bribes, also law enforcement wasn't interested in talking to me at the time. When I was starting to report this, there was still an ongoing case. And so they're like, we won't talk to you. So it was like, well, I didn't really want to just interview a bunch of people around these people. And so I knew I wanted to tell a story about the town because I was also interested in the history of the town. And so I just started reporting out sort of like other parts of the city. Like, I started reporting out immigration stories independently, just short pieces for the radio. And in the process of doing that, I met another city council woman who had replaced Bug. And as soon as I met her, Stevana, I was like, oh, you should be the main character of this show because she was just like one of the most compelling people I've ever met, especially in terms of being a politician. She was just very open. She's like, yeah, you can follow me around whatever you want. She was just saying, just kind of like speaking from the heart and talking about her life in ways that are surprising for a politician. And I was like, oh, well, I'm also really interested in what happens to a place after you've had. I mean, a lot of us had decades of corruption, but what's it like to try to rebuild the city after that? And what's it like for the people that are trying to clean up these messes that these people have made before them. And so that kind of became my focus once I met Stevana of just spending time with her. And I had sort of two tracks where I was like, on one hand I was keeping track and reporting all the stuff that was happening in the aftermath of the corruption because people were still being tried. But then I was also just spending a lot of time in the town with Stevana and with other people trying to understand the city from as many different perspectives as possible. [00:10:27] Speaker C: Did you get any pushback for taking that track? Because were there people above you that were like, crime? True crime is the thing right now. That's what everybody wants. That's the story. Again, like you said, that's a pretty wild story. The FBI gets involved, people go to know there's a dead rat that ends up in somebody's bar. I mean, it's all pretty nuts. [00:10:52] Speaker B: Yeah, well, I was very intentional when I pitched it in that I said this is how I wanted to go. But also because I did this for crooked media. Crooked media, they're a podcast network that was created by people who are very interested in the world of politics. And so they were less interested. I mean, the true crime is like a great hook and it's what I think gets a lot of people interested in it. But they were really excited about a story that gets into small town politics and the story of someone who is running for office for the first time. These are important values to their mission as an organization that tells stories. These are stuff that they're already interested in. So that was kind of a perfect fit for both of us because we were both on the same page about the direction that we wanted to take the story in and the things that we felt were important to talk about, like democracy and especially like local government, which I think is fascinating, interesting, and is very underreported. [00:11:49] Speaker C: I think one character that I was really interested in was Shay Johnson because this guy's covering small town politics for years. He's going to these really boring city council meetings, probably has to report on the minutiae of local government, and then boom, this story happens. [00:12:10] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, it's just like right place, right time. Although there is a lot of this sort of corruption that happens because you don't have journal. I don't even think Jay Johnson's job exists anymore. I don't think that the newspaper that he worked for has. I think they've all shrunk. But when you don't have someone like Shay Johnson from the local paper, sitting in the council meetings and then going up to the council members and being like, wait, this thing you just voted on and these things that happen, it's very easy for these small town politicians to get away with a lot of things if you don't have journalists keeping an eye on things. And so me, I was lucky in that there were multiple reporters that had been in covering the stuff as it was happening, because I didn't come to Adelanto, sort of until the tail end of a lot of that stuff had started happening, and I didn't have the resources. There was a couple of years where I was reporting on Adelanto, but I hadn't sold the story. So I was just kind of, like, going up there out of pocket to pitch short pieces. And so it wasn't until after I sold the show that I could really kind of embed there and spend a lot of time. So they were great resources to local reporters that had been there. Yeah. [00:13:24] Speaker C: How long did it take you to make this total? [00:13:26] Speaker B: I think there was, like, a seven year period from when I first went up to Adelanto to when the show came out. But I would say from the time that I sold the show to crooked and actually was like, okay, I have the funding. This will be an eight episode series. That period was about two years from when I got the funding and then to when it came out. So that was, like, intense. So there's, like, five years of just, like, bopping up there, following things, talking to people, kind of, like, picking away at things and just following the story by doing individual stories for KSW Marketplace. And then two years of just like, okay, I'm going to spend a lot of time here and devote my time. And then I also had a producer who was assigned to this project that worked with me 20 hours a week to help and do research. So that's when things kind of, like, kicked into high gear. And so that was two years of that. Then we had, like, a composer and sound designer. All those people started coming on board. And so then it became, like, a team that we kind of worked on that. [00:14:25] Speaker C: Did it feel risky at all, like, going there and being like, yeah, maybe no one will ever hear this? [00:14:31] Speaker B: I don't know that it felt risky. Like, no one will ever hear this. I mean, everything feels risky because you're just like, is this good? Is anyone going to like this? Does this add up to anything? Because I always was one of those stories that, to me, it's a red flag when I hear other people say this, but whenever people be like, oh, what's the story about? It was always very difficult for me to explain it in one sentence. And I was like, I'm concerned if I can't explain what this is about because I would often say like, oh, it's about a town that's trying to transition its economy from prisons to weed. But it's like, it's not really about that. I mean, it says, like, we don't talk a lot about the prisons, we don't talk a lot about weed. It's kind of a story about corruption, but it's really about, I don't know. So it was just like, what is this? Is this a thing? So many multi part series. There's like a very clear through line like this happened. These are the characters that went through it. And this felt a little more challenging to tell. And so that was what felt risky. Like, oh, does it make sense for us to try to be telling all of these people's stories in one series or are we trying to do too much? [00:15:35] Speaker C: I almost felt like there was like three acts to this story. You have the opening act where you meet bug. He successfully runs on the campaign of legalizing weed, at least for medical purposes. Succeeds in doing that, that feels like a success story until it isn't. That all crashes. Then you meet Stevana. She has her own vision for Adelanto and then there's like fallout from that too. [00:16:04] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:16:05] Speaker C: Does that seem fair? [00:16:06] Speaker B: I don't want to speak for mean. One way I think about it is like it's kind of Stevana's ton of the arc. And so you just have a regular citizen who's watching all this crazy shit happen at city council and is like, what the hell? And is not involved in politics. And then you have someone who becomes a politician, decides like, you know what? I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to run for office and then kind of has a realization of what it means to actually be in power. Like, oh, maybe I don't have the power as a city council person and then decides to try to go higher up on the rungs of then. So it does feel like that to me. It's like, oh, there is sort of three acts to Stevana as the main character in which she experiences. [00:16:44] Speaker C: There's also this kind of like ethos as like journalists. You have to stay impartial. You can't be too involved. But I mean, you were there for seven years and I mean, I imagine being around all these folks for so long you're developing relationships and opinions about everybody. Was there any sort of internal struggle of balancing how you felt with impartiality? [00:17:06] Speaker B: Yeah, that was hard because I don't do stories about politics very often. I haven't done much of that, but it's hard. I had a person. There was people who I was rooting for in elections that I had to report on. And some people I thought were. Would have been great people to lead the city. And some people were running, I thought would not be good for the city. It's like, it's not my job to like, I have to kind of try to be impartial, but it's impossible to not let your biases inform how you shape the story. But Nick White was my editor, and the team at crooked were really good. I trust them in those moments. That's where I really lean on my editors to be like, does this feel fair? Do you feel like I'm presenting this fairly, or do you feel like I'm leaning in one? A. It's really important in those situations to have editors you can trust. [00:17:57] Speaker C: And this would probably seem, like, really mundane. Some people might not even think much about it. But I think of that time, it was like the trunk or treat thing that with Stevano, when she was running for office, and people were supposed to bring their cars and they, right. Because they were going to fill the trunks with candy and all that. And she's kind of freaking out because people stood her up. [00:18:21] Speaker A: And then you kind of jumped in. [00:18:23] Speaker C: And helped out a little bit, which I think was like the right thing to do. [00:18:26] Speaker B: I thought it was cool. Yeah. I'm sure there's many journalism professors that would say I crossed a line. Right. That event was like a campaign event. And I guess the one way to look at it is that I helped her out on her campaign. But it was also just like, there's all these kids that are expecting to go trick or treating, and if there's no trunks here, like what? I don't know. I just felt like. I felt the same way you did. I was like, I'm going to park my car here. I'm going to open up the trunk. I'm going to let the kids take candy out of it. I don't know. I don't regret it. But I'm sure there is some line that some people would say that I crossed as a journalist. Yeah. [00:19:07] Speaker C: But I think it's like one of those things that if you didn't quote unquote cross the line or did it buy the textbook or whatever. Who remembers that but you? [00:19:19] Speaker B: Whoever listens to this podcast. [00:19:20] Speaker C: Yeah, but I mean, if you don't bring it up, that's why I put. [00:19:25] Speaker B: It in the like, I think it was Brooke Gladson who said it. But transparency is like the new objectivity. I could have just left out that detail and pretended like I didn't help, but I felt like more honest and more real to be like, I helped these kids with the truck or treat thing. I helped someone out. You can feel about that, how you want to feel, but it feels good to me to say that I did it and to not be like hiding this fact. [00:19:50] Speaker C: Yeah, that feels like kind of a generational thing, too. I think a lot of younger journalists and storytellers are kind of like, look, I'm as biased as anybody, but I'm going to try to be honest about it. And so if I could tell you, yeah, I'm coming from a pretty liberal perspective, I still think you're being pretty fair as long as you're being transparent about it. Because then I think if you know that, then you can look at it through that lens when you tell the story. And I think it has that context that I think helps people kind of, I don't know, judge what they're hearing. [00:20:21] Speaker B: Yeah, I would. [00:20:23] Speaker C: I mean, I think the other point or where I was going with that about who remembers it, know, those kids are just going to remember forever that, hey, this really nice guy gave us Candy and Stevana's was probably, I'm sure, eternally grateful to you. So, I mean, I think it was impactful in that way that you just. [00:20:38] Speaker B: Kind of know, none of those kids were of voting age, so I was influencing their vote or anything. But also I do think there is this power dynamic as a reporter that is worth talking about and which is that I have this power to take Stevana's life and shape it and control it. And she has to live for the rest of her life with the way I portray her to the world. And it doesn't always feel fair to me that I have that power over her. And so in those moments where it's like there's something I can do, to me, it's like, oh, well, the least I can do is help you out after you've given me all your time and trusted me, I guess I have slightly different views about it all because of the ways that I feel like, you know, the power dynamic between a journalist and a subject exists. [00:21:26] Speaker C: How did you establish trust with her? [00:21:30] Speaker B: I don't know. I feel like she kind of just trusted me from the beginning. I mean, one thing that helped was that I went up there, I interviewed her for a piece about. It was right after she got elected, and it was about her coming into power and about kind of like the aftermath of the wheat stuff and immigration detention. And then that story came out. That story aired on the radio, and she heard it. And so it was like, okay, this guy's legit. The story is fine. She didn't have any problem with it. It wasn't like I wasn't like, got you journalism. And so that just established me as a bona fide journalist, which I don't think she had any issues with. And then when I got the funding to do this, I was very transparent with her. I was like, hey, I have money to do an eight part series, and I'm going to have to spend a lot of time with you. I'm just going to need you to let me tag along with you whenever I want. You know what I mean? Whenever you're willing to. And she was excited about that. I think she appreciate at the time, there was periods of where I was traveling, where she was running for office. And so I think it benefited her to have a journalist who could help her get her message out. And she's an activist, too, and so she has a lot of causes that she's fighting for. And I think she saw me as, like, a way to help her get the word about these things, these injustices that she's fighting for. So I think it was never an issue. I felt like she kind of trusted me from the beginning. [00:22:53] Speaker C: Well, clearly something about you was very trusting, because you think about everything she had been through with child protective services and really just had a tough go of it leading up to that point. And I think you could tell she was a little bit distrustful of institutions. Something about you and what you were doing, I think, must have really resonated with her. [00:23:15] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, I just tried to be transparent with her. I was just like, this is what I'm doing. This is who it's for. I was pretty clear that to her, I was like, you will kind of be like the main person in the story, like the main character. And what that means is that everything that you. I was like, anything you tell me about someone else, I'm going to go ask them about it. And in some ways, that helped. She would tell me all these things in interviews about other people that she'd had beefs with or that she disagreements or whatever, and then I would go to those people and ask them their side of it. And I think that she'd said to me, she's like, I'm really glad that you did that. Which was partly why I wanted to spend so much time with her, because she struck me as someone who was just fundamentally an honest person, which isn't always the case with politicians. So I think she appreciated that I was doing my due diligence. I think she saw me as someone who was going to be fair to everyone in the story. [00:24:13] Speaker C: Yeah, it'd be hard to listen to Dreamtown and think that you are anything but fair. I mean, I think there was not once that I listened to that where I was like, oh, man, this guy did, like, a hatchet job on somebody. [00:24:27] Speaker B: Everyone in Dreamtown just hatcheted themselves. I didn't have to do anything. [00:24:33] Speaker C: Let's be clear. There's a difference between being unfair and critical. [00:24:38] Speaker B: Sure. [00:24:41] Speaker C: I think that a lot of these guys were their own worst enemies, and you just kind of reported very accurately on that, but it doesn't mean it was unfair, right? [00:24:48] Speaker B: Yeah, no, I just tried to keep it factual and be like, this happened. Judge for yourself. [00:24:53] Speaker C: What shocked you the most? [00:24:55] Speaker B: So I interviewed, like, jermaine Wright, who was a city council member. I feel like there might be some spoilers in this, just. But he was this preacher who was kind of against bug in a lot of ways. Like, bug seemed like a wild, shoot from the hip, literally gun toting guy who had a lot of crazy ideas. And then Jermaine was just this very soft spoken preacher, retired preacher. When I interviewed him in the mayor's office, his daughter was there in the room doing her homework, like, quietly in the corner. He's like a family man. And I was just like, oh, yeah, this is. Whatever. It wasn't even, like, that great of an interview. I was like, okay, well, good luck with your plan. He was, like, against weed, which didn't surprise me for someone who was religious and conservative. And then I don't remember how much later it was in that, like, less than a year, all this news broke about these crimes that he'd allegedly committed, and the DOJ had put out this press release telling the story of what he'd done. And it was just like you said, it was like a manuscript. It was just like a film. You're like, what? There's a data ad, and there's all this crazy. That was shocking to me. I was like, that guy. And then that was, like, the moment where I was like, oh, this is a really good story because everything you think gets twisted. There's a lot of twists and turns in the series, and the people that you think are good are not, and people you think are bad are not. And it's just like, it was like everything went topsy turvy, which is great from a storytelling perspective, because then you have these twists and these surprises. But it was genuinely shocking to me at the time that that had happened and stuff with bug, too, like, all this other stuff started coming out about things that he and that they had been allegedly doing. At the time I was interviewing them, this stuff was happening. While I was like, they were giving me one side of their story. At the same time they were allegedly doing all this crazy stuff. And I was like, wow, I did not see that coming. [00:26:50] Speaker C: Yeah, I don't want to spoil anything, but it's all pretty wild. But I also think this story has just got a lot of classic american tropes. A small town that's left behind, people going out west to find riches, the small town politics, and then there's, like, the outsiders with big money interest. It's crazy because a lot of those things just seem, again, like such typical tropes, but they're also very real. [00:27:18] Speaker B: Yeah, that was kind of why, stylistically, one of the ways I pitched the story, I was like, well, it's kind of a psychedelic western. It's about this town in peril. Stranger comes to town, literal gun toting stranger in, like, a straw cowboy hat and tiedye shirt, and is like, I want to save the town, which is like, such a trope of westerns. And so I was like, well, let's lean into that. Let's kind of subvert that in some ways, but also create a frame around this show that feels like an archetypical western story. And I sort of use some references from those things in the story to highlight those points. [00:27:57] Speaker C: I think one of the things, I think that really just drew me in again, like, stylistically was the use of the narrator setting up each episode. How'd that come about? [00:28:07] Speaker B: I'm a huge fan. Another thing that inspired this series was the movie true stories. I don't know if you've ever seen it, but it's David Byrne. The Talking heads made this movie about a small town in Texas, and it's great. It's kind of like a musical, but the opening of that movie is just David Byrne, and he's standing in front of, like, a projector screen, and he narrates the history of Texas basically from the beginning of time while these images are sort of projected behind him. And I really liked that as an idea, and I wanted to try to do my version of that. And I'll tell, I was like, oh, it would be really great because there's all this interesting history to the town about how it was founded and stuff. Like, lot of I didn't really have any compelling voices to tell that story. And then I liked this idea of kind of like some westerns have it and some stories within a story where there's kind of like you're opening a book and it's like, this is the legend of Audelanto. And so I thought it would be good to have someone other than me sort of, like, tell the entire history of kind of California and of this town before everything happens as kind of like a prologue. And I liked the idea of it not being in my voice. And so we recorded that. We liked it. But then there was this question of, like, who is this person, this random narrator at the beginning of the show, and do they ever appear again? What happens? And then I was like, well, they should definitely bookend the story. This omniscient narrator should open the show, and they should close the show and talk about what happens kind of after everything. But then it was like, well, how do we explain this person? Do we need to explain this person? And then someone on the team had the idea of, like, well, instead of doing a recap at the beginning of each episode, why don't we just have this woman, this nameless narrator? Why don't we have her do those so that she isn't this presence that's only in the first and the last episode. And that was sort of like how. [00:30:04] Speaker C: We decided to do that sound design, too. I mean, you had, like, a custom score for this and everything. [00:30:10] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Blessed to have Eric Phillips do the music, whose work loved. And he did some stuff for winds of change. So he had a relationship with crooked already. And I thought the music for that show was really great. And then, you know, probably one of my, if not my favorite sound designer I've ever worked with. We had worked together on some love and radio stories, and he's a so. And I wrote to him, and I was like, I don't know if I can afford you, but would you want to work on this? Cricket was great. They had the budget for it and believed in the importance of those things. And instead of using stock music and minimal sound design, we got to hire people that I trust and had worked with in the past, which was great. [00:30:52] Speaker C: NPR referred to Dreamtown as, like, a Coen brothers esque story. That's what I thought of when I heard the narrator the first time. Does that feel fair? [00:31:02] Speaker B: Yeah, I think I even had a reference in the script where I was think when I read the DOJ report on Germaine's arrest, I was like, oh, you could just erase DOJ press release and write treatment for Coen Brothers script. That's, like, interchangeable. Especially, like, the peopleen brothers. Obviously, they've done lots of different kinds of movies, but when I think about Fargo, like, those sorts of characters, these sort of, like, down and out folks who are trying to scrape together a buck or things like that, the character is not allowed to feel like those sorts of characters. [00:31:38] Speaker C: And, like, big house next season of Fargo, the tv show, man, you got to get it. Options. [00:31:44] Speaker B: Yeah, I think it's actually. I can't say officially, but it is probably going to be a tv series. [00:31:49] Speaker A: Oh, that's cool. [00:31:51] Speaker B: Yeah, the wheels of all that stuff are moving, but there's interest in. People who make good tv are excited about it. Yeah. [00:32:01] Speaker C: Do you watch a lot of. [00:32:03] Speaker B: I've seen. I don't know if I've seen all their movies, but pretty much probably all of them. Yeah. [00:32:08] Speaker C: They almost never miss, it seems like. [00:32:10] Speaker B: Yeah, they're great. Yeah. [00:32:12] Speaker C: I was watching the ballad of Buster Scruggs recently. [00:32:15] Speaker B: Oh, yeah. Some kind of Avalon toe vibes to. [00:32:21] Speaker C: I mean, most of their stories seem to take place in the midwest or out west. [00:32:28] Speaker B: Yeah. That was partly of. I was worried. I was like, oh, people are going to think I'm ripping off the big Lebowski the way I'm doing this opening, but I was like, it's not really. That wasn't my. [00:32:39] Speaker C: Well, I mean, the Coen brothers didn't invent the idea of a narrator. [00:32:42] Speaker B: That's true. Yeah. But that was something that's like, oh, that was something that crossed my mind when I was coming up with the. [00:32:48] Speaker C: Idea, what's next for you? [00:32:50] Speaker B: I really want to make a show about the Mississippi river. And so I'm trying to pitch a series about the river. That's, like, one thing I'm working on. I just got back from traveling down the Mississippi with a river circus and did some reporting for that, and so I'd like to go down the river with a bunch of different folks. I've canoed part of it myself, so I'm trying to get the funding to make that happen, and I just made a pilot for a network that if that gets funding, then I'll work on that, too. And I'm doing a little bit of editing work for a series that's going to come out in a couple of months. That's cool. Yeah. [00:33:25] Speaker C: The funding is always a tricky part, it seems like. [00:33:27] Speaker B: Yeah. Not a good time for limited run podcast series right now is a tough market. Yeah. [00:33:32] Speaker C: If you ever figure out the magic formula to getting people to give you money. [00:33:38] Speaker B: I had a good run. I made three shows in a row with other people's money, and I was very happy about that. But I'm sure there'll be more shows. I mean, these companies have to make shows, right, if they're going to make money? Isn't that the whole plan? Like, make shows and then sell ads or sell IP or something? You got to have something. [00:33:58] Speaker C: Yeah, it would seem that way. [00:33:59] Speaker B: Can't all be celebrity chat shows, right? [00:34:02] Speaker C: Yeah, it's all right. Well, listen, man, I mean, this is really cool stuff you're doing, and all your work is great, too. I mean, I'm kind of jazzed to really listen to the superhero complex. Haven't got a chance to hear it yet. [00:34:14] Speaker B: Oh, yeah, that's a very. Sounds awesome, very wild story. Yeah, that's another one. Holy shit. Stories. That was one of those ones where I did not know about it until I started reporting and I was like, wow, this is crazy. [00:34:25] Speaker C: Yeah, I can't believe anyone actually did that. [00:34:28] Speaker B: Oh, yeah, they did it. They're still doing it. They're still doing that. I went out on patrol with some of these folks that are still out there. These real life superheroes are out there. They'll be out there this weekend, I bet. Keeping it safe. [00:34:40] Speaker C: The podcast is Dreamtown. It's available at all the usual podcast places, plus on Crooked's website. I'll post it in the show notes. Don't worry. [00:34:49] Speaker B: Cool. Thank you so much for having me on. [00:34:52] Speaker C: Yeah, man, this was fun. [00:34:54] Speaker A: It feels a little cliche to say that a story captures the human experience, but I think it's true in this case. David's stories do tend to shed light on the stranger aspects of humanity. But as weird as the events from Dreamtown are, they do tell the story of a community just trying to make it. And in that way, David manages to show a little bit of humanity amidst all this chaos. And if nothing else, anytime your work can be favorably compared to the Coen brothers, you've done something right. And now it's time for our podcasting tip, where our guests share some handy tips with the rest of us. [00:35:36] Speaker B: I'm David Weinberg, I have a podcast called Dreamtown the story of Lanto and here's my podcasting tip. This has served me very well many times, but I really am an advocate for grabbing your microphone and going out into the world without a plan and just talking to people and finding someone interesting to talk to and then building a story around that person. I think it's a great way to find stories that you wouldn't normally find. It's fun if you're not too terrified by talking to strangers, but yeah, that's a tip I have. Go talk to some people with a microphone and see what happens. [00:36:15] Speaker A: Audience is a Castos original series. Our founder and executive producer is Craig Hewitt. Production assistance is provided by Esell Brill, Jocelyn Devore, and Marnie Hills. Our website and logo design is courtesy of Francois Brill, our head of product here at Castos. All music comes from the Storyblocks Library. This episode was written, edited, narrated, and produced by me. I'm Stuart Barefoot. Check out audiencepodcast FM for more episodes, or just search for it anywhere you get your podcasts. And that wraps up season three, but stay tuned to the feed because we'll still have bonus episodes, reairs feed swaps, that type of thing and I think. [00:36:58] Speaker C: You'Re going to like it. [00:36:59] Speaker A: Until then, thank you all for listening and we'll catch you next year. [00:37:06] Speaker B: You it's.

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