Aug. 22—To engage more people in local politics, a Longmont artist and musician is fusing comedy and candid conversation to talk about community issues.
Andy Eppler is the creator of the brand-new "Boulder County Tonight," a 16-part series that began airing Aug. 7 and will run through November. Each episode is roughly a half-hour long, and following jokes and a monologue, the show spotlights different local issues and presents interviews with city leaders and candidates vying for the next political title.
"I feel like a lot of locals didn't even realize we were having an election," Eppler said. "Of course, average citizens don't necessarily know who their city councilpeople are. I'm trying to like, with a heart of playfulness and joy, lead our community through some of that."
Eppler said he thinks local politics are important, because that's where residents are going to see the most change, whether it's policy related to the coronavirus or helping the homeless. With a curiosity for these issues that impact his community, Eppler said his goal was to create "nonpoisonous" discussions with local politicians. He said that means listening to their ideas, rather than debating with them.
So far, Eppler has interviewed fellow musician Greg Benton, Boulder Weekly writer Caitlin Rockett and Longmont Mayor Brian Bagley. For episode four, Eppler interviewed City Councilmember Aren Rodriguez to talk about homelessness in Longmont and housing prices.
Wanting the show to have an authentic, unedited vibe, Eppler said he peppers the show with expletives.
"I have a certain flavor, for sure," Eppler said. "If I were to edit myself, people that follow my art would know that, and they would know that I'm holding back and not speaking from the heart. They would know I'm putting on a front. That's just against the law in my art."
Eppler shared his idea for the show in mid-June with Sergio Angeles, the executive director of Longmont Public Media.
"Longmont's never had a late-night show, Boulder County's never had a late-night show, so we said, 'Let's go for it,'" Angeles said. "As a media maker space and public access TV station, that's why we exist, to help facilitate the creation of concepts such as this by local residents in our community."
Eppler moved to Longmont in 2009 from Lubbock, Texas, to play music in a band. He is part of the Left Hand Artists Group, which brings together musicians, local beer brewers and artists to help empower and promote one another. Eppler plays guitar, piano, drums and bass and has performed at local venues.
His new show is not his first appearance on Longmont Public Media. Last year in April, he played guitar and harmonica for a show titled "Quarantunes #1."
Every local election season, Eppler said, he writes opinion editorials for local online publications, including The Longmont Leader. The show is not his first broadcast endeavor; he's had other comedy interview shows and podcasts of his own.
Angeles said people are encouraged to reach out to Longmont Public Media if they have an idea for a show they would look to explore.
He commended Eppler's show for providing some comic relief, while teaching people about local politics.
"Comedy is needed. I think it brings interesting dialogue, especially between the guests," Angeles said.
Eppler's YouTube channel numbers show close to 2,000 views per episode — a number Angeles says is continuing to grow.
"It's easy for people to be distracted by national level politics, but the truth is in their real lives, I believe people are more affected by local politics whether they realize it or not," Eppler said. "People that disagree can still have a polite conversation about how to help our community."
Where to see the show
What: "Boulder County Tonight"
When: 10 p.m. every night, with new episodes premiering Saturdays
Where: It can be viewed on Longmont Public Media's YouTube channel; at 10 p.m. on public access Channel 8 and is available on demand through the Roku app.
Have a show idea? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to start a discussion.