An interview with Shane Wynn and Chris Miller
by Ted Zep
Since March of 2015, the Spoils of Akron podcast has concentrated a thoughtful, knowing and often incredibly funny light on the citizens, institutions, and happenings in the perpetually vibrant city of Akron, Ohio. The show is highly entertaining and often has the same vivacity as a group of friends having a beer together after work.
It is currently hosted by Ryan Dyke, Cody Stanley, Shane Wynn and Chris Miller, though previous incarnations of the cast have included Liz Tyran and Ben Arrington.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Shane and Chris in anticipation of the upcoming live 100th episode that is being held August 22, at Jilly’s Music Room (111 N Main St).
How would you describe the “Spoils of Akron” to uninitiated listeners, Chris?
Chris: The podcast is a free-form conversation with some of the movers and shakers in our community, and it’s not always the usual suspects. While we’ve had Akon mayoral candidates and prominent business owners and artists on our show, we’ve also featured people who are not as much in the public eye, like a YMCA coach, or a neighborhood barber in Highland Square. Or the time I interviewed dozens of children at the Canton Museum of Art. We also record some of our podcasts without guests as the “Core Four,” which allows the four hosts to catch up on what’s happening in our lives. Along with learning about what people do, we also like to ask our guests about what connects them to Akron and some of their favorite “Akron” things.
How did the podcast come to be?
Chris: The podcast developed and took shape as it went along, and ended up being much different than originally intended. I was interviewing Ryan Dyke (who’s a current co-host) for a story I was writing for the Akronist, and he happened to mention that he always wanted to start a podcast. At the time, I was in charge of a digital media training center at the Main Library (the Akron Digital Media Center), so I told him I would help him and former co-host Ben Arrington get the podcast off the ground. I mainly ran the sound equipment to help these two guys out, but I ended up chiming in at times and developed a good rapport with Ryan and Ben. Then, when Ben announced he was moving to Cincinnati (he’s since returned to Akron), Ryan asked if I wanted to be one of the hosts. It was all an organic process and we developed a good chemistry as a team.
How did you come to be involved with the podcast, Shane?
Shane: When the indelible Liz Tyran made the decision to move to Key West she asked me to take her place as podcast co-host. I was on two episodes of the show prior to this as a guest and was, I would argue, the podcast’s biggest fan.
What is the procedure for choosing guests & topics?
Chris: We make a list of some of the cool people and places we’d like to learn more about and often only book people a few weeks in advance, but sometimes people approach us and ask to be on the podcast. Other times, we try to bring people on for a timely event (like last week’s episode about PorchRokr).
What do you see to be the show’s role in representing the city?
Shane: Our tag line is, “A podcast about the arts, culture and eccentric residents of The Rubber City.” We hope to offer a platform for some of our Akron residents to reveal who they are, what they do and their sentiments about the past and future direction of Akron. We want to reflect a diverse sample of some of the Akronites representing the pulse of the city, but also those who represent some lesser known contributions that may go under the radar. Our tone is fun and light and conversational. I believe this helps to evoke some unique and interesting responses from our guests.
You are primarily known for your work as a photographer, Shane. What is it like shifting gears and working in the context of a team?
Shane: I do call myself a lone wolf when it comes to my career. I work alone in a sense but as a portrait photographer, I am never alone. My work is dependent on the collaborative effort of evoking a visual response from my subject. In a way, I have simply re-directed this effort into eliciting a verbal response.
To date, what episode do you find the most memorable?
Chris: We’ve done so many that this one is difficult to choose. I could name two that really stand out.
One was a live episode we did at Musica in the fall of 2015, and we had animals with us on stage (from the Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary in Portage County). One of the animals, I think it was a donkey, did his business on the Musica stage, which was quite entertaining.
You had me at “donkey,” sir.
Chris: But overall, I would have to say that Episode 27 – “We’ve Been Boozled,” has been the most memorable because we recorded the podcast at our friend Connie Williams’ house, and we interviewed Time Cat’s Jeri Sapronetti at Connie’s kitchen table. At the end of the interview, we placed one of our mics on the floor in front of Jeri’s amp, and she did some impromptu singing and guitar playing. Between the live performance and Jeri’s magnetic and funny personality, it was a memorable episode.
Who is your favorite guest so far, Shane?
Shane: Andy Troutman, owner of Wolf Creek Winery. We interviewed Andy days after an explosion at the winery devastated parts of his family-owned property. I felt good about rallying around this local business at a difficult time by telling their story and encouraging people to show up and share a glass of wine. Also in light of the situation, Andy was so much fun to spend time with, he shared the history of the winery, we drank wine and I got to teeter-totter with a goat.
What is Akron’s best-kept secret?
Shane: Akron is home to the only National Park in Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley National Park is the 11th most visited National Park in America. Also, the chip dip at Primo’s Deli and the hot sauce at Aladdin’s if you don’t know to request them. (Editor’s Note: I need to investigate the hot sauce at Aladdin’s…like pronto.)
What is your favorite thing about the city?
Chris: I love the “roll-up our sleeves” spirit of Akron’s creative community. So many great projects have emerged from people just diving in and giving something a try despite fear of failure. Even when resources are limited, people here in Akron have a fierce determination that’s inspiring.
What can fans expect when they go to the live taping of the Spoils of Akron on 8/22 at Jilly’s?
Shane: Shenanigans, laughing and the sentimental personal musings of four of Akron’s biggest fans.
The Spoils of Akron’s 100th episode will be recorded live on Tuesday, August 22nd at Jilly’s Music Room. Doors will open at 7:00 pm with Shelby Olive performing from 7:30 to 8:00. The podcast will be recorded from 8:00 to 9:00, and Eriq Troi playing after from 9 to 9:45.
Show archives can be accessed here: spoilsofakron.podbean.com
Follow them on Facebook for updates and information: facebook.com/spoilsofakron
(This interview was initially published 8/18/17 on Ted Zep’s blog, Super No Bueno. We are publishing it with Ted’s permission).