Blaine Lay (right) interviews Josh Yates, director for Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, while Chris Payne checks the sound. (Photo by Jay Paul)
In the first season of the ‘Two People” podcast, interviewer Blaine Lay grills Glen Sturtevant, a Richmond Public School Board member who would go on to win a tough battle for a state Senate seat.
“It is true,” Lay asks, “that you had a bowl cut?” He refers to the evidence, a photo of young Sturtevant in his Scouting days.
Sturtevant breaks into laughter. “I don’t know if a bowl was actually used,” he says, “but it certainly looks like it.”
That mix of levity and sincerity is the hallmark of “Two People,” a local podcast by Lay and producer Chris Payne.
Every person, the podcasting pair posits, is actually two people: one, the public self, and the other, the personal self. Lay and Payne aim to reveal both in their subjects, touching upon upbringing, personal experiences and home lives.
In each 60-minute episode, Lay, a brand strategist who moved to Richmond in 2007, interviews local movers-and-shakers about everything from what they were like in high school to what problems they think should be addressed in Richmond.
“We try to make the show fun and interesting,” Lay says. “So, it’s sort of the clear-minded curiosity of public radio and then there’s a little bit of Jimmy Fallon mixed in.”
Many episodes end with a light-hearted game, such as “Name that ’90s Thing” with high school senior Noah Kim. Or “Name that Tom” with Richmond Times-Dispatch publisher Tom Silvestri. And while the well-known names and playful tone attract subscribers, Lay and Payne hope listeners also will hear something deeper.
“The other side of ‘Two People’ is how you connect these disparate communities, whether you’re talking about the creative people and those in need, or hipsters and lawyers, or city and county,” Lay says. A single interview alone won’t accomplish that, but it may encourage more open minds, he says.
“For me, it’s trying to humanize some of these people,” says Payne, a video producer and creative director.
With the first 17-episode season under their belts, Lay and Payne hope to continue to bring in a variety of guests. The pair also may continue to experiment in occasional highly produced stories à la “This American Life,” a storytelling form they adopted for a special UCI World Championships recap episode.
Season 2 kicked off on Feb. 24 with RVANews Publisher Ross Catrow. For more information or to listen, go to twopplpodcast.com.