• David A.F. Sweet

Five Questions for the Hosts of The Lake Forest Podcast

By David A. F. Sweet The Lake Forest Podcast was originally conceived by Pete Jansons to help residents understand what the Lake Forest Caucus does and to get more people to volunteer for it. Since it debuted in January, the show’s scope has broadened, and its goal today is to “shed light on the people and businesses that make Lake Forest special.” A Lake Forest resident for only three years, Pete knew he needed a partner who had a lengthier background in town for the podcast to succeed. Neighbor Matt Alghini introduced him to Skoo Walker, a lifelong resident of Lake Forest, and the voice of Lake Forest High School football and basketball was a natural fit for the informative and entertaining shows. Pete answers five questions below, and Skoo gave a thumbs-up to his responses.

Why start The Lake Forest Podcast to help educate residents about the Lake Forest Caucus?

The Lake Forest Caucus interviews and vets candidates for boards, such as schools, library and cemetery, as well as candidates for aldermen and mayor. We recently had a contested school board election in which there were candidates running against the Caucus candidates. When you have a contested election, that means you have to spend money on lawn signs, you create ill will in the community and you need to campaign. That money and energy could be better suited giving to Mothers Trust Foundation or other projects.

Pete Jansons and Skoo Walker interview residents with a light-hearted style for The Lake Forest Podcast.

Our initial shows were Caucus related, and then we evolved into local business and news. Because of Covid, our small businesses have really had a rough go of it, and we do our best to bring as many of them on to help give them exposure. What challenges have you faced in getting the podcast off the ground?

In the early going, people had the expectation that we would fact check, edit or judge what the guests say when they come on our show. Our guests give their thoughts and opinions and if there is a mistake, we correct it in the show comments, or we bring on another guest to give the other side.

Politics play an issue. We try to bring on all points of view, but conservatives don’t like to hear the liberal side of things and vice versa. We sometimes get labeled, depending who the guest is on the show. I’ve been called Pete the Liberal and Pete the Trump Lover. Just because I nod my head and let someone speak doesn’t mean that I agree with what they are saying -- just their right to say it. What sort of feedback have you received from listeners?

If it’s a political show, the side not represented doesn’t like it. Big surprise. But I think as time goes one people will realize we don’t have an agenda other than to talk about what the town is talking about.

A lot of the new residents like to hear about the business and city services offered. The old-school people like Skoo like to hear about the new businesses in town like the Oaken Bistro or the upcoming Le Colonial.

Are there any topics you consider off-limits? Why or why not?

I use the Warren Buffet newspaper test. How would I feel about a show if I knew it was to be written up the next day in the local newspaper, and it would be written by a smart but unfriendly reporter, and it would be read by my family, friends and neighbors? It’s pretty simple; if the decision passes that test, it’s okay. If anything is too close to the lines, it’s out.

Everybody has a perception and an opinion. They have the right to feel the way they do about something. I don’t feel it’s our job to edit or judge, just to give a platform. Too many conversations are being had in silos in the community. Local newspapers are going away. Judgments are quickly made by headlines in social media. But when you listen to what the person actually says, you have a different opinion. I think our podcast helps with that. What great interviews do you have coming up?

Arthur Miller joins us at least once a week with Art Class, in which he talks about the history of Lake Forest. On June 25 we have Mike Forman, owner of Lake Forest Pack and Ship, and on June 29 we have Marlena Karwowski, general manager of the new Forrester Hotel. Interested in being on the podcast? Email pete@lakeforestpodcast.com