Meet Johnny Flores.
He’s 40, grew up in South Sacramento and Fair Oaks, enlisted in the Navy after high school, lives in Tahoe Park and hosts “Serious Talk. Seriously.”
I stumbled upon his podcast a couple months ago while working on an earlier post and was impressed by what he’s created. It felt like a kindred spirit to my own little project.
The podcast, started in 2014 and now on its 66th episode, consists of conversational interviews with artists, business owners and locals who give the city character.
One of the reasons I wanted to speak with Johnny was because he’s interviewed so many people in local media, including Martin Christian, Daniel Barnes, Ed Fletcher, Melody Stone, Tim Foster, Cody Stark, Joey Garcia and Devin Yamanaka. He talks to them outside the confines of traditional media and lets us in on their journey.
“I like to highlight people who are creating positive energy,” he says. “They’re trying to find solutions to our problems.”
I approached Johnny about participating and we met in July at the The Shack to talk about media consumption, the city of Sacramento and his thoughts on the news.
After high school, Johnny moved to various cities on the West Coast (including San Diego, Portland, Spokane and Los Angeles) before resettling in Sacramento. He says the city has changed “tremendously,” loves living here and calls the city a “hidden gem.”
“You got a lot of people who get shit done,” he says.
There are “a lot more opportunities” for people to get involved. The food has improved, the coffee has improved and the beer has improved. Sacramento is “a better place to live.”
“I don’t think we ever appreciated our town enough or thought much of what was going on,” he says. “People freely admit they like living here now.”
He first experimented with podcasting in 2010 with an unreleased concept, where he and his friends would watch a movie and record themselves telling jokes, similar to RiffTrax.
A couple years later, in 2012, he launched the “No Nipples on the Suit” podcast to talk “about everything nerdy” with friends. (Yes, it had some interesting referral traffic.) They recorded 19 episodes before he turned his focus to his current podcast.
“It’s got legs of its own,” he says. “Some episodes just blow up.”
There’s a warmth and openness to his podcast, which is often recorded in his home. His family is as much a part of the show as his guests. Franny may be the unofficial co-host.
He credits the improv classes at the Sacramento Comedy Spot with helping him become a better listener and allowing others to shine, skills that come through in his podcast.
“I love improvising in the moment,” he says. “There’s nothing like getting a stranger to laugh.”
While describes himself as a positive person prideful of many of the things going on in Sacramento, he’s concerned about the health of local media. He says local television news is “horrible”: that it operates off of fear tactics and gives too much voice to social media opinion. “It doesn’t matter.” He says the marijuana and massage ads in Sacramento News & Review devalue the journalism. While he loves the investigative work by The Sacramento Bee, he says its paper-thin on some days and is concerned by layoffs.
“Newspapers are a very, very important part of the community,” he says.
Johnny answered the following questions by email about how he gets the news. Text submitted July 9.
What’s the first news event you remember?
One is real and the other one is fake. The real one is the Challenger Space Shuttle exploding. We didn’t watch it in class that day, like a lot of children at Anna Kirchgater Elementary School did, but I remember all of the kids speaking about it on the playground. My younger sister, who was probably, 7 or 8 at the time, ran up to me and told me her teacher started crying when it happened. I was probably 10 or 11 and remember the adults on our street talking about the accident for several weeks.
The fake one is the episode of Saturday Night Life where Eddie Murphy is playing Buckwheat and there is an assassination attempt like the one that happened to Ronald Reagan. The episode kept having “news breaks” to keep the viewer aware of Buckwheat’s condition. I guess I was young enough to realize it was a joke but I also half-heartedly believe it to be real.
What content do you pay for?
I’m an evergreen donor to Capital Public Radio because I listen to it a lot… probably too much. For a while I was paying for the premium access to Marc Maron’s WTF podcast. My girlfriend and I pay for Netflix, Amazon Prime, and I recently started paying for Hulu so we can watch Seinfeld. I love Seinfeld.
What’s the last great thing you ate?
My dad and I rode our motorcycles over to Hot Italian for the Hot Lunch Concert Series. I had a panini and followed it up with some gelato. It was damn good food and company.
Who’s doing it right in news?
I don’t watch most televised news shows. I’d say NPR is my trusted news source. And Jon Stewart. Please don’t leave The Daily Show, Jon
Name the three most important issues facing Sacramento.
Drought issues. Everything else seems like small bananas to that.
What do you absolutely hate about the news?
I can’t stand how local TV news asks people to weigh in on crap through social media and posts the opinions as news. Local news should be about 20 minutes long: 10 minutes on national news, 9 for local news, and 1 for weather.
What’s the most important issue to you that’s not being covered well enough?
I can’t seem to think of an important issue that’s fallen through the cracks. Do people know that a small indie film called Star Wars Episode VII is coming out at the end of the year? I’ve got a good feeling that it’s going to be a sleeper hit.
If you could be anywhere, an-hour-and-a-half drive away, where would you be?
AT&T Park, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers or walking my dog around Tahoe Park.
— SeriousTalkSeriously (@SeriousTalkTwit) February 6, 2015