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Duo behind The Banyan Collective brings eclectic podcasts to Ogden ears

By Deann Armes special To The Standard-Examiner - | Jun 30, 2021
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Orchard Wild performs original Americana folk tunes during a recording of "Van Sessions" on June 4, 2021, at The Monarch.

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Ogden-based arts and adventure podcasters R. Brandon Long and Todd Oberndorfer, founders of The Banyan Collective.

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Orchard Wild performs during a recording of "Van Sessions" on June 4, 2021, at The Monarch.

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R. Brandon Long smiles from inside the Tan Van during a recording of "Van Sessions" on June 4, 2021, at The Monarch.

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R. Brandon Long and Todd Oberndorfer of The Banyan Collective, producers of "Van Sessions," pose with Orchard Wild after a recording on June 4, 2021, at The Monarch. Pictured, from left, are Caleb Wendt, Nick Garn, Long, Naomi Harlan and Oberndorfer.

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Todd Oberndorfer, co-founder of The Banyan Collective.

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R. Brandon Long, co-founder of The Banyan Collective.

Talk about arts and adventure (and beer), and you’ve pretty much got this creative mountain town covered.

R. Brandon Long and Todd Oberndorfer record podcasts that take listeners all over Ogden, from inside the world of musicians, writers and makers to the dirtiest trails, hoppiest craft beers and the top of the highest peaks.

They are the founders of The Banyan Collective, a rapidly growing media company which evolved from the KWCR 88.1 Weber FM (Weber State University) live radio broadcast, the “Ogden Outdoor Adventure Show,” started by Long in 2010.

Now, “Ogden Outdoor Adventure Show” is a weekly podcast produced by The Banyan Collective, along with “Nine Rails Arts Podcast,” “LITerally Podcast” and “Van Sessions.”

Most podcasts are recorded from their studios at The Monarch, including the most recent addition, a live spin-off of LITerally called “Bourbon Beer & Books” that continues their deeper dive into the art world.

The arts was a pivot for The Banyan Collective that started with Van Sessions in 2016, and now arts and adventure is their “wheelhouse.” Both outdoors enthusiasts, Oberndorfer and Long were never strangers to the arts either. Like their podcasts, they embody arts and adventure in their own lives.

“The truth is, outdoor lifestyle is part of who I am. … The arts are embedded in outdoor culture,” said Long, adding that he’s lived in both the arts and adventure spaces since 2008.

He studied the arts at Weber State University while working at the WSU Outdoor Program and graduated with a BS in creative writing and minor in photography. Now he’s manager of Ogden’s mountain equipment shop GEAR:30 and partner at The Banyan Collective. At both, he is heavily involved in the community.

Oberdorfer, the arts outreach manager and advisor for the Department of Visual Art & Design and an adjunct art professor at WSU, is also highly connected to the community, combining social action and art by addressing issues such as clean air and population growth in his printmaking and graphic design work.

As outreach manager, Oberndorfer is the director of Arts in the Parks, a free summer program that began in 2010, and travels to different Ogden city parks offering opportunities for children and their families to explore visual and performing arts through hands-on activities.

His community work involves collaboration and consulting with WSU, Ogden City Arts, Ogden Downtown Alliance, Ogden’s Historic 25th Street, Summit Powder Mountain, Ogden City Community & Economic Development, Union Creative Agency and Ogden First. Both Long and Oberndorfer serve on the Ogden City Arts Advisory Committee.

Their community volunteer efforts gave rise to their first arts podcast, “Van Sessions.” The podcast originated from Long’s idea to make art announcements for the public during First Friday Art Strolls on Historic 25th Street from inside the pair’s “Tan Van” to stay warm. Instead of public announcements, they were soon inviting musicians to the van for interviews and four-song sets.

The live audience podcast and music series, every First Friday at The Monarch, is like a concert but with unique elements; it’s a platform for artists to share their stories.

Artists from all over the Wasatch front have joined “Van Sessions,” including many from Ogden — The Proper Way, Orchard Wild, Standards and Substandards, Sammy Brue and Cherry Thomas, to name a few.

The goal with “Van Sessions,” partially self-funded with more support through a generous grant from Ogden City Arts and a sponsorship from The Monarch, is to be a conduit of emerging local artists, a place where artists appeared first, Long and Oberndorfer said. They say “it’s history in the making,” a place listeners will look back and find artists who “blew up out of Ogden.”

KJ Ward, formerly of The Wednesday People, was the first to play “Van Sessions” in February 2016. His new rock band, The Backseat Lovers, has released two albums since 2018 and attracted over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify.

The “Nine Rails Arts Podcast,” highlighting the latest happenings in Ogden’s arts district, is also growing with positive changes. Show host Oberndorfer will be joined by friends and arts advocates Cam McLeod, Jake McIntyre and Shane Osguthorpe as new hosts.

“People listen to podcasts to escape, become educated, stay informed or get inspired,” Oberndorfer said. With his new co-hosts, he says they’re “bound to hit at least one of those bullet points.”

Future episodes on the “Nine Rails Arts Podcast” include conversations with the teams behind Ogden City Limits, Ogden Contemporary Arts’ current exhibition of “Social Undistance” and Don Rimx’s new mural project in downtown Ogden.

“Collectively, we will continue to explore what it means to be an adventurous creative, as well as share the stories of Ogden’s new Nine Rails Creative District,” Oberndorfer said.

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