Know Your Neighbors: Gem City Podcast

When Eric Ruiz founded the “Gem City Podcast” in 2013, he was looking to connect the community to stories and issues they were specifically interested in, not just whatever the talking heads were going on about this particular week.

“I was depressed with the lack of community in our city,” he said. “I wanted to make people aware of things they might otherwise miss out on.”

And if you tune into the Dayton-centric podcast via their website, Facebook, Twitter, Stitcher or iTunes, you can be sure that whichever issue they’re highlighting or interview they’re conducting, by the end of the 45-minute episode you’ll feel more informed, more engaged and more motivated to get involved with the Gem City we call home. The weekly episodes cover every topic you can imagine, from business to politics to local music to history, coupled with great conversation and unbiased commentary.

We asked Ruiz, a project engineer for his day gig, and a couple of his co-hosts — Izzy Rock, who also hosts his own podcasts “Tales From the Hardside” and “On the Block”, and Libby Ballengee, all-around Dayton culture supporter and Dayton Music Insider blogger/founder of Venus Child Productions — to tell us a bit more about how the “Gem City Podcast” builds the local community.

> > > Keep up to date on Dayton’s weekly music offerings with the Dayton Music Insider blog.

Can you describe a typical podcast recording — who does what; how does the whole process work?

Eric Ruiz: I host most podcasts with Mark (DaGrossa, who also produces the show) and edit them all. A typical recording is a 45-min sit-down conversation. No limits. I want the listener to hear what the guest is like, as well as the agenda being promoted. You can tell a lot more about people’s agenda when they hit the 20 min. mark.

Izzy Rock: I wanted to help Eric when he first contacted me about doing the podcast. I love the Dayton music scene and wanted to do something unique to showcase the local talent we have. I had been doing my own podcast, “Tales From The Hardside,” since April 2012.

In January 2014, I began releasing “Storyteller” episodes on the “Gem City Podcast.” These podcasts feature three songs discussed by the bands edited together in post from a basic outline for every artist. They consisted of Origin Story, Memorable Shows, Influences and Promotion. Discussing other Dayton artists is something I encourage. I also release podcasts from personalities in Dayton that were originally released on my podcast “Tales From The Hardside.” These are usually hour-long conversations with no format or segments, just deep conversations.

What role in the Dayton media scene do you think the “Gem City Podcast” fills?

Libby Ballengee: Podcasts […] are low-cost to produce, convenient to listen to in the car, at work, while cleaning,etc. They allow people to have a conversation in an unrestricted way. Most media outlets have to worry much more about how advertisers would feel about the content, and that’s not a concern for us.

IR: We give listeners an uncut, uncensored view of the Miami Valley. We give many local musicians a chance to tell their story; we give a voice to many who have none.

What are the criteria for being on the show? What kinds of stories are you looking to highlight?

LB: We like to highlight events around town, especially new ones. We also enjoy learning about new projects going on in Dayton that most people have never heard about.

Some of our best podcasts are about Dayton’s history, like our recent interview with (music promoter and former Canal Street Tavern owner) Mick Montgomery. We also try to discuss current events, such as the recent marijuana legalization effort.

This summer we started doing podcasts at events, such as Dayton Sideshow and Miami Valley Music Fest. That’s been a real treat, because we’ve got to interview a real variety of Daytonians, from organizers, bands and fans.

IR: As far as stories, we want them all. No topic is taboo, no philosophy is too weird. We want to showcase the diversity within the Dayton area and discuss hot topic issues. We want to play a part in archiving Dayton history and the people that make it fascinating and unique.

What are some of your favorite things about Dayton?

LB: The ability to make an impact is really huge. You can’t do that everywhere, especially bigger cities. Dayton is larger enough to be a city, but not so large that you get lost in the shuffle. There is a real energy and sense of community that is emerging, and it’s awesome.

IR: The people, the food, but most importantly for me is the Dayton music scene. I was a huge fan in the ’90s when Spin Magazine was covering Dayton, and Guided By Voices were indie darlings that I got to see play in Indiana at Lollapalooza. I could go on and on about all the bands I’ve discovered since joining “Gem City Podcast” in 2014. When I listen to music these days, they are usually based out of Southern Ohio.

If you could change or improve one thing about Dayton, what would it be?

IR: I’d love to see Dayton build a skatepark. I would want to see what a legal recreational cannabis would look like for Dayton. I’d improve the roads. Too many of the streets in Dayton are deteriorating.

ER: Awareness. The information is out there. Breaking people from their group-minded thinking and helping them realize we are all connected. Too many people just take without giving back. We all like to have a good time and enjoy life, but when that becomes the sole purpose of life, the city suffers.

LB: We would like to see more people vocally supporting the city and the efforts going on here. There is still that “this is an alright place to be if you haven’t been anywhere else” attitude by a lot of people. We’d love to see them change their tune.

Catch the next “Gem City Podcast” episode or tune into some archives at Follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook.