The year 2020 has been a difficult one for business districts all over the city, and Fishtown’s is no exception. As the pandemic raged against the bottom lines of the neighborhood’s restaurants and retail stores, Fishtown’s local business improvement district, Fishtown District, came up with some creative ways to help out the local economy during trying times. First there was the 5 for Fishtown gift cards, then the Fishtown Heroes initiative. But the latest marketing technique from the Fishtown District takes the creativity level and turns it up to 11. It’s called Find it in Fishtown Live, and it’s an hour-long radio show that airs on WWDB 860AM and Facebook live on the Fishtown District Facebook page.
“With COVID and everything, a lot of the traditional ways we tried to market the district have been a little more difficult to access,” said Fishtown District’s director of operations, Kae Anderson. “So we were looking for alternative ways to market the corridor.”
According to Anderson and the Fishtown District’s executive director, Marc Collazzo, the show will feature guests who are stakeholders in the Fishtown community. The very first show, which premiered this past Wednesday, featured Rivers Casino community relations manager Emily Doñes, Fabrika general manager Mike Sobolewski and Michael Morrone, president and founder of Liguori Academy.
According to Collazzo, he and Anderson – both of whom are co-hosts on the show – started talking about doing a potential podcast early on in the pandemic, in part because Anderson has a background in podcasting. As if it were fate, Collazzo said he received a LinkedIn message from WWDB general manager Sam Speiser asking if he were interested in being a host of a radio show about Fishtown. Collazzo, a natural talker, has some background in political media from his days as the district office manager for former state Rep. John Taylor, making him an attractive candidate.
“The thing that is most important to us is that the Fishtown/Kensington area is such a thriving and dynamic area, but it’s not just the delicious food or the creative and dynamic retail or the spirits at our taverns,” Collazzo said. “At the end of the day, it’s the people.”
And in that lies the structure of the show. Collazzo talked about the stories behind businesses and entrepreneurs in the area, like developer Roland Kassis who emigrated to the Philadelphia area from Lebanon, and how interesting they can be.
“We think that makes for compelling radio,” he said. “It highlights what’s so special about our corridor and the businesses and things that they’re doing. At the end of the day, if you’re looking for somewhere to set up your businesses, you say, ‘I want to be part of that.’ ”
The featured guest on the second edition of Find it in Fishtown Live will be the owner of Harriet’s Bookshop, Jeannine Cook.
“She truly is a leader in every sense of the word,” said Collazzo of Cook. “She makes you think and wants you to learn.”
Back during the demonstrations of civil unrest during the summer, Collazzo said that Cook gave him some books to read.
“One was the autobiography of Malcolm X,” he said, “and it was to get me more perspective so we could have more of a dialogue.”
For Collazzo, the show’s target audience isn’t just anyone who lives in the Fishtown corridor, but also “anyone who’s a true Philadelphian,” he said. “We are a big city of neighborhoods, and these neighborhoods have different personalities that make them special.”
WWDB’s operations manager, Lora Lewis, said that Collazzo had “hit on the real trends in broadcasting today.”
“Audio is king,” she said. “People are turning more and more to audio content, and that’s what started this whole idea.”