CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Patrick Felton is being interviewed by his hometown paper -- that would be this one -- at Moxxee Coffee, while Felton's own interview subject cools his heels a few feet away.
Felton, creator of the Charleston Podcast Project, is my subject for this story on his local arts podcast, "That Conversation."
But his interview subject for the podcast's next episode -- local artist, photographer and Charleston franchise rep for Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School drawing sessions -- embodies why Felton is being interviewed in the first place.
"Chase Henderson is an interview one of my listeners has been requesting for a long time," said Felton, sporting headphones connected to a Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer hooked to a couple of cardioid microphones.
"Chase is doing really interesting, cutting-edge stuff in the community with Dr. Sketchy's, which has become sort of a weird surprise cult hit among the artists in the community. I'm sure it has nothing to do with the scantily clad women and men that are a part of it. But he's an incredibly talented visual artist who I've known peripherally a long time," Felton says.
While he has toyed before with podcasting -- which to the uninitiated simply signifies a listenable, downloadable audio file on the Internet -- Felton's "That Conversation" now has a host of shows under its belt since April.
"We've done eight episodes so far. I say 'we' -- it's mostly me. The next step is we're going to try to get two more episodes in by the end of the year."
He can't help with the "we," apparently. But he has ambitions for his hyper-local show devoted to Charleston's cultural scene, which you can subscribe to through the iTunes podcast tab, download from ThatConversation.wordpress.com, or find on Facebook at That Conversation (Podcast).
The St. Albans native believes his show is taking a stand at defining the richness of the local arts scene in the face of the usual choices. Or for the matter in the face of the serial stereotyping of backward West Virginia in its latest form -- MTV's "Buckwild" reality show, coming in January.
"We have such a wealth of unique and cutting-edge artists in this community and the only two people we seem to be talking about are Landau Murphy and Jesco White," said Felton. "That puzzles me."
Asked for a sort of podcast mission statement, here was the result:
"We're a podcast that's trying to incorporate and give visibility to low-profile artists who are making a large impact on our community. People that you may not have necessarily heard of before," he says.
Or, if you have heard of his interviewees, you may not have had a chance to hear why they do what they do.
"The personalities I've tried to bring on the show are interesting. I was very lucky that with the first episode I was able to get playwright Dan Kehde, who has a huge following in this community. ... I was very lucky he was willing to come on when I only had one subscriber. Which was me.
"From that interview, I've gotten so much feedback of people just wanting to know about these people that they maybe have seen in one context, but don't necessarily know the thought and process that goes into their work."
Advocating for local artists is nothing new to the 28-year-old.
"This has been a part of my life for many, many years. Which is why when I saw the press release for 'Buckwild,' it was such a slap in the face. Because I feel like there are so many talented artists in this community that it is a real crime to have someone else be defining our community for us. And it is going to keep happening unless more people are speaking up and willing to showcase themselves. And not just in the traditional ways.
"I mean we've done it to ourselves, too, when we present West Virginia Appalachian arts to the community as the dulcimers and the quilts and the clogging -- all of which I love -- but we're not foregrounding the people who are doing really interesting experimental stuff. Like filmmaker David Smith, who did a lot of stuff in Huntington using consumer-grade video equipment."
One of his favorite interviews was with local artist and blogger BZ Tat, which the show's website described this way:
"BZ Tat and Patrick debate the roles of prettiness, politics and pets in the world of painting. Plus, BZ Tat tells us about the role of marketing and social media, how a chance meeting with a stray cat changed her life and leads us down the rabbit hole into the subculture of pets that blog."
"She is a visual artist that does a lot with painting of cats and pets. And she's also a Twitter personality; she tweets under her cat's name. Really fascinating to me to see someone who's able to talk really articulately about both the artistic process and also the process and reality of trying to make a living in the arts."
Which brings Felton to a point he and his podcast harp on regularly.