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On the Trail, an occasional column by St. Louis Public Radio political reporter Jason Rosenbaum, takes an analytical look at politics and policy across Missouri.

Remembering Highlights Of 2014 Politically Speaking Podcasts

Breaking new ground is one of the trademarks of the Politically Speaking podcast, and this year was no exception. 

After three years of podcasts, Politically Speaking changed its format and put the spotlight on guests. In all, 48 episodes featured federal, state and local officials from across Missouri and Illinois – as well as a few folks who aren’t in office.

Over the course of 2014, we covered a lot of ground, including an eventful legislative session and an election in which local contests took center stage. We also pressed some key officials on what was next for the St. Louis region after the protests and rioting in Ferguson. And throughout it all, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum made several terrible jokes.

Just for fun, we crunched some numbers about our shows:

  • 27 hours 58 minutes and 17 seconds: The total amount of time that elapsed in episodes with guests. (A few of these were “split shows” that featured a guest on only half of the time.)
  • 34 minutes and 58 seconds: The average length of the 48 shows with guests. We like to run a tight, but fair, ship on the Politically Speaking podcast.
  • Eight: The number of guests from St. Louis, which was the most frequent residence of people that appeared on the show. Kansas City came in second place, as it was the hometown for four guests.
  • 25: The number of current Missouri lawmakers on the show. Incoming House Speaker John Diehl made two appearances, making him the first and currently only politician to appear on the show three times.
  • Three: The number of statewide officials from Missouri – Secretary of State Jason Kander, state Treasurer Clint Zweifel and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder– who joined us on the show in 2014.  That leaves Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster, both Democrats, as the two statewide officers who haven't appeared. (State Auditor Tom Schweich was on the show in 2013.)
  • Two: The number of officials who appeared on the show who once recorded deeds. They are St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Jennifer Florida and former (and future) St. Louis Recorder of Deeds Sharon Carpenter.

Before we turn a page on another year, here are some of our favorite highlights from this year's shows.
Jason Rosenbaum

Three moments in particular stuck out for me: 

Credit Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio
State Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart, was ready and willing to answer tough questions about his role in fundraising for now-former Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson. Roorda lost decisively in a state Senate race to Rep. Paul Wieland, but the Barnhart Democrat is still making headlines in his role as business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association.

Chris McDaniel

  • It was great to get state Rep. Chris Kelly on the show before he was term-limited out after 18 years in the 
    Credit Rebecca Smith, St. Louis Public Radio
    St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger brought his daughter Madeline in for his appearance on the Politically Speaking podcast.
      House. Kelly served in the House before and after term limits, and so it was interesting to hear his take on the issue. (He’s not a fan of term limits, arguing it has increased the power of lobbyists, bureaucrats and the political parties.) 
  • As much as we like having elected officials on, having political consultants on is a nice change of pace. Sometimes they’re freer to speak their mind. Jeff Roe of Axiom Strategies operates the fourth-largest GOP direct-mail firm in the country. I found it really interesting to hear him talk about how he likes physical mailers more than anything else.  Why? “We know they have to touch it."
  • Even though we were all sleep deprived, having St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger on the show less than 12 hours after his win was a chance to talk to him about the nail-biter (which was won by just a couple thousand votes). And it was also a chance to look forward and discuss what his plans are to improve the relationship between police and the black communities they serve.

Jo Mannies

When it comes to our weekly Political Speaking podcasts, 2014 was a stellar year – which makes it harder for me to choose my favorites. 

Incoming House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and Country
Credit Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio
Incoming House Speaker John Diehl, R-Town and County, appeared on the Politically Speaking podcast twice this year.

In fact, my favorite guests include all three on Chris McDaniel’s list.

But overall, rather than individual shows, I’m most proud of specific groups of shows. Such as:

As always, we are grateful to our guests -- and our loyal listeners -- for keeping the momentum going for the Politically Speaking podcast. We're hoping to exceed your expectations throughout 2015.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.