Editorial page podcast

This week’s podcast covers DACA and racism, AzMERIT scores and the challenges of public education, “Star Wars” and TV’s “‘Swedish Dicks.”

Nelvin C. Cepeda

The Star’s Opinion staff has some groovy news – and we need your help.

We’ve launched a podcast.

Thursday afternoons, cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, editorial writer Luis Carrasco and I get together around a conference room table near the Star cafeteria and spend about a half hour chatting. With microphones. Luis puts it all together and a podcast is born.

The goal is to open up the Star’s Opinion pages and share how and why we do what we do — and to also share what you have to say.

So far we’ve talked about immigration, President Trump’s visit to Phoenix, the Tucson City Council Ward 3 Democratic primary, Trump’s decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the Tucson Unified School District superintendent search and selection, Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller’s ill-advised remarks about her white pride, and more.

We confab about what we’ve editorialized about that week in our Star editorials and columns.

I’m not going to pretend we don’t go off on tangents — we talked at some length recently about Fitz’s quest to make the perfect pot of refried beans.

Fitz talks about his favorite cartoon of the week, and how he created it.

In a recent episode, Fitz explained how he comes up with ideas for his cartoons. It’s something I’ve often wondered, because I’m definitely a word, not a visual, opinion person.

It turns out he makes lots of lists and looks for connections. Some hit like lightning bolts, others morph. Some fizzle.

Fitz also shares an email or voicemail he’s received that week — we call it his air-quotes fan-mail.

Luis handles letters to the editor submissions and many guest-opinion pieces submitted to the Star. These contributions are at the heart of the Opinion pages. Even if people are writing about national or international issues, it’s a local conversation.

The music we use is local, too. It’s a new, unreleased song by The Marshmallow Overcoat called “Wait For Her.”

Luis interviews letter writers and guest-opinion authors for the podcast. It’s great to hear a letter to the editor read by the person who penned it, and to hear them share what moved them to write.

Have a letter writer you’d like to hear from? Let us know.

Luis, Fitz and I also share things we’re interested in each week. Sometimes it’s another podcast, or a book or a board game. Or beans.

So here’s where we’d like your help. Our podcast needs a name. We’ve been calling it the Arizona Daily Star Opinion Page Podcast — descriptive, yes, but it makes me think of those plain label groceries, with no photo or design. Just a can with PINTO BEANS in black lettering on a white label. PODCAST.

We have a couple names we’re kicking around, but we’d like to hear from you. Ideas? Send them my way at sgassen@tucson.com.

In the meantime, check out our latest podcast below.

01:00 — The rescission of the DACA program and plenty of questions: What does this mean? Was the program legal? Will Congress act? and Was this racist?

19:15 — Fitz's cartoon of the week.

20:00 — Not one, but two Fitz "fan" letters of the week.

21:45 — Hot topics on letters to the editor

22:55 — Sunday's editorial on AzMERIT scores and the challenges of public education.

28:36 — What is a guest opinion and how are they chosen for print?

31:05 — Bean update: Last week Fitz was making refried beans for the first time. How did that work out?

32:02 — Our groovy recommendations for the week:

Guess what? Luis is a Star Wars nerd, too. He recommends Star Wars: Jedi Challenges.

Fitz is working on a book.

Sarah's into "Swedish Dicks."

Sarah Garrecht Gassen is the Editorial Page Editor of the Star.