BY DANIEL LOCKE
FOR THE OBSERVER
LEE COUNTY —
Are you looking for an efficient way to keep up with all the latest happenings in Lee County? How about a way to learn about the people and businesses who call Lee County home? Look no further than the Lee County Listener.
The Lee County Listener is a podcast hosted by Sam DiChiara and Garrett Martinez, two local residents who both have a deep connection to the area.
“Garrett and I host, write and promote the Lee County Listener, which is sponsored by Key Media and The Observer,” DiChiara said. “We are a local news and community podcast that has a different community business on every week.”
“The Lee County Listener is a project devoted to telling the story of Lee County,” Martinez added. “It does amaze me, constantly, the diversity of people and their interests and skill sets that end up here. We think this is worth documenting, so the podcast does that.”
From Auburn University to some of Alabama’s most unique businesses, Lee County is home to a wide variety of interesting things that are near to the hearts of those who call this area home.
“I love that the podcast gives me an easy excuse to talk with people whom I already find interest in speaking with,” Martinez said. “For this reason or that, it seems odd to go up to say, a local business owner or community leader, and ask for an hour of their time just to pick their brain. With the podcast, we get to do that every week.”
“I really love getting to know some very interesting people in Lee County from every walk of life,” DiChiara said. “I love that Michelle (Key) has been kind enough to grant Garrett and I a lot of creative freedom; that’s what has allowed us to have some really cool series coming up, like our Black history series in February.”
The podcast covers a wide variety of topics, so everyone can find something for them. DiChiara and Martinez said they pride themselves on their ability to get out into the community and dissect everything that is going on.
“From what makes a great hot dog to how the cities of Auburn and Opelika continue to grow, we try to find whatever makes our guests passionate and focus on that,” Martinez said. “Few things compare to listening to someone share what they are passionate about with full force.”
The podcast has produced some great memories for both of its hosts.
Martinez said his favorite moment from the podcast was “the first time we took the show on the road.”
“We’ve been blessed with spaces to record, but it felt true to the spirit of the podcast to be able to go out into the community that we speak to and meet people where they are,” he said. “It varied up our schedule, and people are always more comfortable where they are, so it made the interviews a bit more free-flowing.”
Podcasts are becoming one of the most popular digital media outlets. Many people have an interest in starting a podcast of their very own.
“Plan,” Martinez advised anyone interested in starting a podcast. “You learn a great deal along the way, of course, so be prepared to have your share of last-minute changes and all, but a decent plan carries you so far. The interviews are fun, the meeting people is fun, the going to events is fun. But the real work is in guest coordination, design, production, social media management and episode catalogs. A good plan goes a long way in helping you to be able to just enjoy the fun parts.”
The Lee County Listener is available on all the main podcast platforms, including Spotify, Apple, Podbean, iHeart and more — even TikTok. Be sure to listen as two locals, DiChiara and Martinez, bring you coverage of everything that is going on in Lee County.