‘Seattleland’ host Sara Bernard stitches together the city’s stories. Photo by Mark Baumgarten

‘Seattleland’ host Sara Bernard stitches together the city’s stories. Photo by Mark Baumgarten

Welcome to ‘Seattleland’

Producer and host Sara Bernard tells us all about our new podcast.

For years, Sara Bernard served as a staff writer for Seattle Weekly, crafting powerful stories about heavy stuff, including environmental activism and sexual assault. Then, a few months ago, she went dark. This Friday she will re-emerge as the host and producer of Sound Publishing’s new podcast, Seattleland.

Each week, the podcast will feature a deep dive into a story inspired by the reporting done by her colleagues stationed in communities thoughout the region. In the first episode, we will hear about the fight to rename King County after Martin Luther King Jr. from the people who made it happen. After that, Bernard will take us to the pinball parlours of Seattle, the skateparks of Renton, and the wake of a marijuana pioneer. And that’s just the beginning. We asked her what she’s been up to behind that closed studio door and what we can expect from her new obsession.

There is this idea that you need to be niche in order to succeed in the podcasting space. And you’re doing something that’s a little different than that and focusing on a place. Why?

This is an incredibly interesting space right now for a number of reasons. The history is really fascinating, the contemporary struggles are drawing national attention, there are a lot of national profile companies, and in the past year there have been a lot of national profile politically charged events. Seattle is taking on this national role. This podcast allows us to tell these local stories, but in a way that uses the power of audio to engage more people and engage people differently. I have a real passion for audio and its ability to be so empathic and so intimate and so immediate and emotional. I want to give that opportunity to people who live in this area, or maybe who live anywhere, to hear these stories and understand these stories, have an opportunity to really experience them in a different way and, arguably, feel them more deeply.

Do you like working in audio instead of print now?

Oh yeah. Yeah. Definitely. Even though, I’m really stressed out. Especially this week, because this thing that has existed only in our heads is now going to be a real thing that other people can listen to and comment upon. So that’s a little scary. However, there are a couple of reasons that I’m happier now than I was then: One is, I confess that I have always been more interested in stories than in news, and I think [that is] the way that we’re structuring the podcast at the moment, that these are not going to be breaking news, responsive type piece. We will be topical and we will have time pegs when we can, and we will try to respond when we can to very timely things. However, our focus is going to be on the story. And that is a real privilege for me. And number two: I just feel like it’s a new challenge. This has just been a lot of fun, but I have learned a lot of things in the past few months, the hard way. I have done radio since maybe 2011, while also writing, and I feel like I miss one when I am doing the other. So, this is cool to maybe swing the pendulum back over and focus on this thing that I put down for a couple of years.

We hear a lot of your voice in these first three episodes, but as we move along we are going to be introduced to other voices. Who do those voices belong to?

It definitely is going to evolve. The first few episodes are going to be mostly me as host and reporter, but the idea of course is to not make this my podcast, or my project, with me as reporter and producer and host; it’s also me working with local reporters in this family of publications owned by Sound Publishing to elicit their expertise in their local communities. I’ll be the host continually, but hopefully showcasing a lot of the people who are doing this field work on the ground.

Tell me about a moment from these past three months that is going to stick with you.

One moment was when I started to go through the audio I had collected for the first episode, which is about how King County came to be named for Martin Luther King. I was going through some of that audio to figure out what the good parts are, and I was just blown away by some of these conversations I had. They felt really powerful to me. It felt like, in this first episode, there are going to be moments that, for me, anyway, underscore the importance of audio and the reason I love audio. The conversations I had for this episode were things that I wouldn’t have been able to say myself as well, even if I were quoting someone in a print piece. I just feel so grateful that I get this opportunity to show people what I was hearing; to give people what I was hearing.

New episodes of Seattleland will post every Friday starting this week. Subscribe through your favorite podcast platform, or download each episode at seattlelandpod.com.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@seattleweekly.com.

More in News & Comment

Surveillance footage appears to show Tyler Slaeker and other people entering the U.S. Capitol Building on Jan. 6, 2021, according to U.S District Court documents. Courtesy photo
Federal Way man arrested in connection with U.S. Capitol riot

A Federal Way man was arrested Aug. 4 for his alleged involvement… Continue reading

Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance
Puget Sound renters will need housing assistance

Nonprofits, activists are expecting greater need as workers are laid off.

Seattle Film Summit organizers Chad Hutson (left) and Ben Andrews (right) - (courtesy of Seattle Film Summit)
Seattle Film Summit returns to partial in-person format this September

This year’s event will focus on promoting self-advocacy in the creative sector.

Cows at Tollgate Farm Park in North Bend. Photo by Conor Wilson/Valley Record
State’s dairy workers begin earning overtime with new law

“This bill corrects a historic injustice,” said Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Des Moines).

A Darigold dairy worker practices picketing as a strike is approved by the union. Photo courtesy of Julia Issa
Puget Sound Darigold workers on verge of strike amid contract negotiations

Workers cite lack of medical leave, outsourcing and bad-faith negotiations as reason for strike.

Critical race theory became a political buzzword last fall after Gig Harbor resident Christopher Rufo (right) joined commentator Tucker Carlson on Fox News. (Screenshot from YouTube broadcast)
Educational merit of critical race theory sparks heated debate

In Washington, schools have seen parents protest and threaten to remove their children from schools.

The King County Courthouse. File photo
Sexual assault leads to calls for closing King County Courthouse

Crime is rising in the ’dangerous environment that has surrounded our seat of government.’

Courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health
COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations are rising in Washington

Data suggests the vaccine is effective in preventing hospitalization for COVID-19

File photo
King County Council OKs millions for courts overwhelmed by pandemic backlog

Some lawyers testified that the backlog has created an “access to justice” problem.

Most Read