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Q&A with RVA’s Got Issues host Rich Meagher

Rich Meagher
Scott Elmquist
VPM News
Rich Meagher is the host of VPM's new podcast RVA's Got Issues.

In May, VPM launched RVA’s Got Issues (RGI), a podcast aimed at helping Richmonders understand the politics in and around their city while putting the impact of those issues into perspective. The show solicits feedback and questions from listeners to pull back the curtain on how local government works.

RGI’s first episode, titled “RVA’s Housing Woes,” explores how, despite a high volume of new apartments and homes being built in the area, housing costs continue to rise. The second episode, titled “More Buses, Free Fares, No Problem,” investigates what the GRTC Transit System is doing right and where there’s room for improvement.

RGI is hosted by Rich Meagher [pronounced MARR], a Professor of Political Science and the Director of Social Entrepreneurship at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. With expertise in local and state politics, particularly in Richmond, Virginia, Meagher is a political analyst for WRIC 8 News, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

VPM caught up with Rich to learn more about how RGI came about, what to expect in future episodes, what some of the biggest challenges of hosting the podcast have been and more.

VPM: How did the idea for RVA’s Got Issues come about?

Rich: I listen to podcasts... like, A LOT. And I've always felt like RVA needed its own politics podcast; maybe it's because Richmond is a state capital, but I just feel like the community here is so plugged in and hungry for more news about local politics. I kept waiting for the right one to come along, and finally realized that maybe I needed to do it myself.

VPM: Has anything surprised you while doing the podcast? Do you have any major takeaways?

Rich: It's not exactly surprising to me - I kind of knew this from my previous work on local politics - but it's always amazing to see the kinds of work people are doing around the region. We find really smart people from all walks of life doing really cool things to make their community better.

VPM: What do you hope that audience members will take away when they listen to this podcast?

Rich: I hope listeners can be informed, but also inspired. So much of our politics today is disheartening, even draining. But at the local level, it's a little easier to grasp what's going on - and to get your hands a little dirty in trying to make things better. I always leave our interviews feeling a little bit better about RVA and the world.

VPM: What have been some of your favorite topics to talk about from the podcast?

Rich: My favorite topics often are the questions that listeners have, especially when it takes me into researching obscure sections of county code or forgotten corners of RVA history. Why does it seem so hard to start a business in Richmond? What does a county supervisor DO, anyway? Who was Dillon, and what is his Rule?

VPM: What are some of the biggest challenges in hosting the podcast?

Rich: I think my biggest challenge has been trying to grow as a storyteller. I feel like I have some good basic skills from my career in teaching and media. But I have already learned SO much more over the past year or so: how to find the right guest, how to structure an interview, how to highlight the key points of the story that will make it come alive for listeners. I credit my VPM producing team for helping me get better at this each and every episode.

VPM: Can you tell us about some future topics that will be explored on the podcast?

Rich: We're covering all sorts of issues - everything from solar energy to food insecurity, participatory budgeting to FOIA requests, even ballet - all through the lens of: what's happening here in RVA? What do I need to know about it? And if I care, what can I do about it?

VPM: What are some of your interests outside teaching, politics and podcasts?

Rich: Outside of politics, my family keeps me pretty busy! Still, I'm interested in the RVA beer scene, currently hunting the perfect pilsner.

Be sure to stream the first two episodes of RVA’s Got Issues. New episodes premiere biweekly on Wednesdays.

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