Anyone who cannot get enough Waco history, or who simply wants to fill their ears with it while driving, exercising or doing chores, Randy Lane and Stephen Sloan have a podcast for you.
The two produce the Waco History podcast, titled “Waco’s Known and Unknown Stories,” which offers in-depth dives into stories from Waco’s past roughly twice a month.
For Sloan, director of Baylor’s Institute for Oral History, the podcast is the latest expansion of local history on a digital platform, joining the Waco History phone app that he helped produce with the Texas Collection, and the website www.wacohistory.org.
For Lane, a former Navy broadcast journalist and the great-grandson of famed Waco architect Roy Lane, it is a chance to combine his love for radio and his appreciation of the city that his great-grandfather played a part in building.
Since its beginning in mid-September, the Waco History podcast has covered topics including Waco Navy hero Doris Miller, photographer Fred Gildersleeve, Waco and Camp MacArthur and Waco ghost stories. Upcoming episodes include one on the Reservation, Waco’s district of legal prostitution in the early 20th century, and the 1926 riot at a Baylor University and Texas A&M University football game in which a cadet was killed.
A podcast is an audio recording formatted for digital downloading and online playing, usually released in regular episodes to which listeners can subscribe. Many broadcasting services package their radio programs as podcasts, with thousands more created and distributed online.
“I had thought about this (podcast) several years ago when we were developing the app and the website,” Sloan said. “So when Randy approached me about doing a Waco history podcast, immediately I said yes.”
Lane, 34, a Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, got hooked on radio during his Navy days. He worked as a reporter and co-hosted a classic rock program for the Armed Forces Network Tokyo. Then, when posted to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, he headed its video division. Though much of his duties then involved video production, he developed a taste for radio.
He moved to Waco with his wife Lauren several years ago and serves as chief marketing office for 360 Solutions, where he produces the podcasts “High Performance Leadership” and “Charity Champions.” That gave him an idea to pursue stories from his interest in Waco’s past, an interest sharpened by his family’s history with Waco. Lane’s great-grandfather Roy Lane was the architect who helped design the ALICO building, the Waco Hippodrome, the Raleigh Hotel, the Cottonland Castle and more.
To learn more about Waco’s history, he looked for a Waco history podcast. Finding none, he decided to make one, offering to supply his technical know-how if someone would provide the history. That someone proved to be Sloan.
The two record episodes in Lane’s office studio in the Triangle Tower. Sloan, an associate history professor at Baylor, provides much of the historical information, sometimes supplemented by a guest or recorded material, while Lane handles the production side.
They converse on the subject at hand, which Lane then edits and condenses.
“I cut out the parts that are not interesting,” he said.
Although they aim at a target length of 40 to 45 minutes per episode, they frequently run over. That length allows “a deep dive” into the subject at hand, Lane said.
While the Waco History phone app and website draw from the histories and photographs in Baylor’s Texas Collection, the podcast can tap into the now-digitized audio archives of the Institute for Oral History that Sloan leads. The episode on Fred Gildersleeve, for instance, uses part of an interview with the late Waco historian Roger Conger on the Waco photographer.
The Ghost Stories episode draws on Waco historian and author Brad Turner, whose books include “Cotton Bales, Goatmen and Witches: Legends From The Heart Of Texas.” That episode has proved the podcast’s most popular, with about 600 downloads, and a follow-up episode is in the planning stage.
The Waco History podcast joins a small group of Waco-based podcasts that include Garrett Simmons’ ”The Wacoans,” which features interviews with local entrepreneurs and business owners and is in its second season with 48 episodes; Austin Meek’s podcast of ”Downtown Depot,” his weekly half-hour program on public radio station KWBU; the Tribune-Herald’s own weekly sports program ”One True Podcast;” and productions from Waco churches such as Antioch Community Church, Christ Church Waco and University Baptist Church that offer ministers’ sermons and teaching.
The two behind the Waco History podcast are encouraged at listener response so far and with more than 150 years of Waco history to draw on are not afraid of running out of material.
“We have a long list of ideas,” Sloan said.