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The city of Marble Falls aired the first episode of its new podcast, “Behind the Falls,” on June 6. Hosted by Downtown and Marketing Manager Erin Burks and “Marvelous Falls” podcast producer Kurt Cotter, the episode featured newly elected Mayor Dave Rhodes, focusing on his background, years of service with the city, and future plans for Marble Falls.

“I see (the podcast) as an asset moving forward in a communications and transparency way,” Rhodes said. “I’m not saying newspapers are obsolete, but they’re limited. There are people we need to reach, and you can listen to a podcast by just driving down the road.”

The idea for a podcast stemmed from Rhodes’ desire to better communicate with residents, something that was discussed at a recent Marble Falls City Council workshop.

“We’re not very transparent,” he said about city government. “We’re good at saying, ‘Well, we have meetings twice a month, so you need to show up.’ There’s truth in that, but I think we can step out.”

The podcast will offer an inside look into the city’s decision-making process in an effort to promote transparency, dispel rumors, and humanize officials.

“Twice a month, we’ll have some content about what was on the agenda previous to the podcast,” said Rhodes, who will be on some of the future episodes. “We’ll go over what we did, why we did it, where it’s going, and whether there is any history or context that might help people understand what the thinking was behind the agenda item.”

Residents can also hear how the city is putting their tax dollars to work.

“We’ll talk about parks, projects, and what the city is doing with their tax money,” Rhodes said.

The city also hopes to dispel misinformation about how it does business.

“We’re going to do a segment on mythbusters,” Rhodes said. “There’s always some gossip running around town about something, so we’ll have some fun with that.”

Rhodes sees the the digital audio broadcast as a way to promote community by giving city employees a space to show residents their true selves.

“We’re getting bigger and we don’t know our neighbors,” he said. “Part of our neighbors are the people who operate your city on a day-to-day basis. It’s important people get to know them.”

The new podcast is completely privately funded, Rhodes said.

“We’re not spending money on equipment or building a studio or anything like that,” he said.

City officials are kicking around other ideas on how to communicate with residents.

“We’re going to do our best to go out and meet people,” Rhodes said. “We’re going to be in your neighborhood to talk about city stuff. We want to hear you and let you know what’s going on and be transparent, in a constructive manner, about what we’re doing.”

Rhodes plans to build on the neighborhood meetings with semi-annual town halls.

“The town halls are going to be an outflow of the neighborhood meetings,” he said.

When asked about potentially livestreaming City Council meetings, Rhodes explained the issues that come with that.

“We’ve talked about it, but it’s just not that easy,” he said. “What I’ve been made to understand, at least in our existing City Hall venue, the acoustics are awful. We would have to spend several thousands of dollars at minimum for equipment to do that.”

Listen to future episodes of “Behind the Falls” on Spotify.

nathan@thepicayune.com