Moon Pie

It started with the desire to share our breaking news stories on the coronavirus pandemic.

The Moonshine editorial squad was working harder than ever from home with up-to-the minute breaking reporting on the coronavirus pandemic. Constantly, we asked ourselves, What do we know? How can we find out and report on what we don’t?

We heard JD Hoss on 101.5 Truckee/Tahoe Radio also doing great work keeping the community informed about the new virus and interviewing important leaders. But he couldn’t do journalistic reporting on the ground and host a radio show.

Why not feed two birds with one scone?

Enter: the symbiosis of a set of independent media outlets that had the potential to help each other. That seed of an idea has since become Moonshine Minutes, brief reports recorded by our staff to share key stories. We reach a new audience,  JD and his team further inform their listeners, and the community as a whole has more information in an easily-digestible audio format.

Originally, and mostly, the episodes feature our staff as talking heads, reading versions of published stories, but we recently expanded and evolved to include direct interviews with sources and have developed radio-exclusive content.

To highlight a few of our recent experiments, we spoke with parents who were shaken up by their son showing racial prejudice; we covered the Say Their Names Vigil just for radio; and we spoke exclusively with Rick Holliday about his decision to draw back from the Railyard Project.

Plus, we turned the tables on JD Hoss; check out his interview on how and why he keeps it local.

Catch up with us on the airwaves, Tuesday to Thursday and weekends on 101.5. Shout out to Hoss for coming up with the nickname “Moon Pie” for the show; we hear you, we love it!

Episodes are available both on moonshineink.com, Multimedia tab > Moonshine Minutes: On the Radio, and on KTKE’s website under On Demand > Community Conversations.

Tahoe Talks

Connection is tough in a multi-state, many-county, and multitudinous-districts set of communities, pandemic or no pandemic. But as we looked ahead in May to an indefinite period of living our lives apart, Moonshine realized we had an opportunity to fill an important role in connecting our community around vital topics. Tahoe Talks, facilitated by the now-omnipresent interpersonal platform that is Zoom, was born.

The pandemic and its fallout blanketed our region — from businesses suffering, to visitation being cut off, to medical advice coming from multiple channels. The problems were community-wide; they didn’t observe jurisdictional or organizational borders, but the ability of agencies to reach out across those boundaries to seek a regional conversation is limited.

We realized that as a well-trusted community paper that covers Washoe, Placer, Nevada, and El Dorado counties, with friends and contacts all across the region defined by Lake Tahoe, we were in a unique position to bring people together. Through the years, Moonshine Ink has entertained the idea of convening the community on important issues, but hosting events is time-consuming and resource-intensive. The pandemic made us look past the obstacles and just do it.

TAHOE TALKS, FOR THE FIRST TIME: The first time we swapped our reporter hats for convener hats and hosted a Tahoe Talks conference call over Zoom, it was a forum for the small business community to share their stories as well as resources to weather the storm. Screenshot by Alex Hoeft/Moonshine Ink

We were poised to spread confirmed information instead of doubt and uncertainty, and we jumped at the opportunity. Again, as with our mutually beneficial relationship with KTKE, we were not mere altruists, and so appreciate the community and leadership that have come together to engage in productive discussion that informs and assists our reporting.

So far, we’ve facilitated conversations on the business community and economic resiliency in the beginning of the pandemic, where heartbreaking stories were shared. We visited the hot topic of short-term rentals and visitors to the area during lockdown; the resulting conversation was civil, productive, and powerful. We hosted public health officials to give direct medical answers, and our most recent one convened fire officials from around the region, including Cal Fire, to talk about fire season in the face of COVID. We were honored that Placer County employees reached out to us to collaborate on the fire forum, having been impressed with previous Tahoe Talks.

Our Tahoe Talks start with ground rules and background information so everyone is on the same page. We’ve gotten feedback that we “run a tight ship” with question-and-answer time cut-offs and Zoom formalities like raising your hand digitally. We ask people not to use the chat for discussions, but rather stay focused and listen to each other. Multiple attendees have reached out to tell us it was the best community conversation in which they’d taken part.

You can find videos of our past four Tahoe Talks conversations on our website (at the Multimedia tab  > Tahoe Talks: Community Conference Calls). Email tahoetalks@moonshineink.com to get notified of coming talks and with any ideas for future conversations.