Missouri News

New podcast shines light on Hannibal's history, quirks and characters

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Sep. 16, 2018 12:01 am

HANNIBAL, Mo. -- Two people with a deep affection for Hannibal are making their feelings about the town known through a new podcast.

The "Rivertown Review" podcast with Megan Rapp and Harold Smith was launched in April. Nineteen weekly episodes later, Rapp and Smith are still having as much fun with the venture as when they started.

"This has truly been a labor of love for us," Smith said.

Smith is the news director and brand manager for KHMO Radio in Hannibal, and Rapp is the assistant director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau. For the past four years they've been getting together every Friday morning to produce a 10-minute segment for the radio station focusing on upcoming events in Hannibal.

"We found that some of the best conversations we were having were after the program was over or before it started," Smith said.

Smith said he and Rapp would find themselves chatting about many of the interesting characters and quirky things that have surfaced in Hannibal over the years and would tell each other jokingly: "Let's save it for the podcast."

Then one day earlier this year, Smith said, "We came to the realization, ‘Well, why not do a podcast?'"

They decided to give it a try.

Rapp, who has a background in marketing and a passion for history, did some research and found that she and Smith already had all the basic necessities to create a podcast: They had ready access to a professional recording studio at KHMO; they both liked to talk; and they had a long list of potential Hannibal-related topics they could discuss.

Rapp said another factor was also in their favor.

"People seem to like podcasts," she said.

So they got started.

The podcast's first episode served as an introduction. Rapp and Smith, who both are natives of Pike County, told listeners about themselves and what they hoped to accomplish through "Rivertown Review."

Rapp said one goal was to highlight some of the interesting but little-known things about the Mississippi River community made famous by author Mark Twain, who spent his boyhood years in Hannibal.

"There's something special about Hannibal," Rapp said. "There are so many interesting people and so many interesting stories to tell."

Smith said even though he works for KHMO and Rapp works for the HCVB, they want to make it clear the podcast is independent of both organizations.

"This is us," he said. "We own this show."

"We talk about whatever we want," Rapp added.

A couple of the podcasts focused on "the interesting people you will find in Hannibal -- real and fictional," Rapp said.

This includes such figures as Hall of Fame baseball player Jake "Old Eagle Eye" Beckley, who was a Hannibal native -- as was Bill Lear, inventor of the Lear Jet; Margaret Tobin Brown, who became known as the "unsinkable Molly Brown" after surviving the Titanic disaster; and Col. Sherman Potter, a fictional character from the TV show "M*A*S*H."

One podcast featured an interview with John Wingate, author of a book about three Hannibal boys who became lost in the local cave system in 1967 and were never seen again.

Another podcast focused on Hannibal's Mount Olivet Cemetery, which serves as the final resting place for several members of Mark Twain's family; the man on whom Twain's Injun Joe character is based; and Clarence Gideon, known as the father of the American public defender system.

The podcast's most recent guest was Hannibal Arts Council Executive Director Michael Gaines, who talked about the impact of the local arts community.?Gaines said he's glad to see a local podcast being produced to shine a spotlight on Hannibal.

"In the world of how we learn information or how we learn about our community, podcasts are definitely something that we need in Hannibal to be in the game," he said. "Why not? We can't keep Hannibal to ourselves."

The podcast can be downloaded from iTunes and other sites. It can also be accessed through the show's Facebook page and its website, rivertownreview.com.

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