Anyone who knows State Rep. Mike Zalewski (D-Riverside) knows he loves to talk, especially about politics and politics. Zalewski is now sharing that interest with others with a new podcast he hosts.
The podcast is called “Have All Voted Who Wish”, which is what they say on the floor of the Illinois House of Representatives before a vote closes.
“I love podcasts,” Zalewski said. “I think they’re a discussion forum in a way that you won’t get on a radio show. I’ve been lucky enough in this job to do radio interviews, and you have to cut your answers down to 10-second chunks.
“It’s so hard to talk about politics, to talk about politics, to talk about human interest, to do it that way. Podcasts have no such limitations. You can really stretch your legs and get out there and get into a different type of conversation.
Zalewski hosts the podcast with Chris Crisanti, who is the leader of the Brookfield Democratic Party and a fellow politics and politics junkie.
The first three episodes of “Have All Voted Who Wish” were taped late last year, and another episode aired recently.
In the pilot episode, Crisanti interviewed Zalewski about the Illinois General Assembly veto session, but all podcasts since have featured Zalewski and Crisanti interview guests.
Guests included Chicago-based Democratic consultant Tom Bowen, Crain’s Chicago Business political reporter AD Quig, and state Reps. Mark Batinick (R-Plainfield) and Nick Smith (D-Chicago). Each episode usually lasts 45 minutes to an hour.
In addition to being an opportunity to share interesting conversations and introduce listeners to some of the interesting people Zalewski meets regularly, the podcast offers Zalewski a different way to engage with his constituents and constituents.
“I also think we speak to our constituents in different ways,” Zalewski said. “I think you have to find unique ways to make yourself known to the people you represent, and they no longer consume the media in the same way. You need to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and you need to appeal to their ear as well as their eye.
“Have All Voted Who Wish” is available on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher Podcasts.
The podcast doesn’t come out on a regular schedule, but Zalewski hopes to release one every few weeks.
“I only want to do it when it’s appropriate,” Zalewski said.
Zalewski said podcasts will likely be more common when the state legislature is in session.
“I feel like when I’m in Springfield and I’m around people and I have ideas, people tell me stories, that I’ll be able to turn on the microphone more,” Zalewski said. “That’s the vision.”
To date, Zalewski has recorded the podcasts from a studio at Boxless Media, a Brookfield-based digital marketing company owned by Jason Baumann, who grew up with Zalewski on Chicago’s southwest side in the Archer Heights neighborhood.
They both attended St. Symphorosa Catholic School. Baumann is about a year older than Zalewski who was in the same class as Baumann’s brother Brian.
Zalewski learned that a broadcast-worthy podcast involves more than recording an interview. After recording an interview, it takes a bit of post-production work to get the interview polished and ready to air.
“I say ‘uh’ a lot and it has to come out [and] there are times when there are tough transitions that they have to clean up,” Zalewski said. “You just talk for 30 to 45 minutes and then it’s up to the engineer and the sound engineer to build it up in a way that people can actually listen to it.”
Zalewski said he pays Boxless a few hundred dollars per episode for studio time and engineering and sound work. The payments come from Zalewski’s campaign funds. There are no ads on the podcast, and Zalewski said he’s not trying to make money from it.
“It’s a good investment,” Zalewski said. “I appreciate it. I got great feedback on it. People listened to it which flatters me. I really do it because it’s something I love to do.