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Podcaster focuses on Liberal including ‘Ruby Red Slippers’ PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 March 2018 13:00

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ELLY GRIMM
• Leader & Times



Liberal has been garnering much attention recently from several media outlets, with more recent pieces turning up on delish.com and Highlights magazine. Liberal also recently got the podcast treatment thanks to “A romantic in Kansas” by Jacquee Thomas. 

Thomas recently began a “Special Features” portion on her Web site, with her first subject being titled “The Ruby Slippers” and referring to Liberal. 

“When I began the series, I’m doing what I call volume one of the series and each volume will have four episodes. I chose feature subjects that are in conjunction with the story I’m telling about something I learned about in Kansas,” Thomas said. “Then I realized shortly after I arrived I had worn red shoes on my trip, so I chose ‘The Ruby Slippers’ as my first subject and then the second one will be ‘Midnight Train’ and then I’ve got a couple others lined up after that. With the ruby slippers, I’d heard Liberal was the home of Dorothy Gale from ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and I felt it would be a great match. I’d been exploring mostly the northern region and going to different communities and areas in and around the northeastern part of Kansas and hadn’t heard much about Liberal. So then after all that, I called up the Convention and Visitors Bureau and spoke with Sally Fuller and she was fabulous and excited about this and we went for it. When I interviewed her, I learned about Dorothy’s House and The Land of Oz and way more about Liberal, and I’m all the more excited to make Liberal part of my story about Kansas.”

“A colleague of mine, Susan Barnes, is the one who introduced me to Jacquee,” Fuller said. “I was in Topeka for a meeting and she told me Jacquee wanted to do this series and the focus of one of the episodes was going to be the ruby slippers. So of course Susan thought about Liberal since it’s the home of Dorothy and all that, so she introduced us and then we did the interview over the phone since she’s in Topeka and we talked about Dorothy’s House and The Land of Oz and how that all came about.”

And podcasts are not the only media platform Thomas has lent her voice to. While in college, Thomas was heavily involved in the local professional theater in Madison, Wisc. and also had her own soap opera satire on the local NPR station. Then while living in Chicago, Thomas was a newspaper columnist for Letter from Chicago, which was printed in several newspapers in communities surrounding Chicago, where she would go to those communities on a regular basis and often be interviewed. 

“Then when I came to Kansas and was in Topeka, I met the owners of one of the stations there and they asked me if I had any ideas for a new radio show and I did,” Thomas said. “So I started a new series called ‘A Romantic Moment by Jacquee T.’ Every Saturday at 12:30 p.m., during one of the talk shows, there’d be about five minutes for my spot where I chose a subject and how to easily incorporate it into your lifestyle. I was hearing back from listeners about doing replays and then I was also asked if I could do longer programs along with some other recommendations. Then I started thinking ‘I’ve been in Kansas a while, I’ve got a lot to share about Kansas!’ so I recently started my ‘A romantic in Kansas’ podcast available on my Web site and on iTunes.”

Throughout her travels, Thomas has gathered many stories and said that was part of the inspiration behind the “Special Features” on her site. 

“I’ve seen so many wonderful people and I’ve been making some great contacts and I’ve got just so many stories about the wonderful things I’ve seen here and I love podcasts and the Internet radio, so I felt like it behooved me to share the Kansas stories I have from a romantic perspective,” Thomas said. “Everything just came together at the right time and it was just perfect for that format. I started with 15-minute shows and more recently I’ve started the special features, which are longer programs, about 40 to 45 minutes, that focus on a Kansas-specific subject. Each of them has only core sponsors, which I’ve limited myself to because I want my core sponsors to be part of the stories.”

So what is something Thomas has especially noticed about Kansas?

“When I got here, I discovered Kansans are ‘Let’s do it!’ people, which I love. Then I called Sally and explained what I was wanting to do and she was so excited and told me ‘Let’s do it!’ I learned about the Pancake Day race and I’d talked to Sally right in the middle of when all that planning was going on, so kudos to her helping make it all happen,” Thomas said. “She was there and available even among all that and it’s just such a wonderful tradition. The art museum and other things you have there, it sounds like there’s just so much going on in Liberal for people to be able to do there, which is just really exciting. The people have really impressed me, Kansans are very passionate and romantic, and Kansas just has so much U.S. history every where and the communities just embrace that, which is amazing. I stayed in Hiawatha for a while and they have the county seat and the county museum and just so much about that area. I also love the pioneer days and hearing about the trails and the trains and somewhat oddly, the arts – each community I’ve visited has its own element of supporting local artists and supporting them not only by touting them but also by having programs and things like that to showcase those artists.”

And the extra eyes on Liberal is also a plus, Fuller added. 

“It’s my job to make Liberal as well known as possible in the most positive ways possible, and that’s possible through all the work we’ve been doing,” Fuller said. “In Jacquee’s case, someone heard ‘ruby slippers’ and referred her to us and associated us with Dorothy and all those other attractions we have for visitors. It’s always nice when those who live on the eastern side of the state get to hear about anything going on here on the western side of the state because I don’t think they typically think about us when going somewhere for the weekend or traveling, what have you, so that’s a great thing for her to be talking about Liberal and what it has to offer because while that interview was mainly about Dorothy’s House and the Land of Oz, we also talked about the air museum and Baker Arts Center, so hopefully someone will hear all that and think to visit us while on spring break.”

Overall, Thomas said she was very excited to learn about Liberal. 

“I’ve enjoyed connecting with everyone I’ve been able to talk to,” Thomas said. “Everyone I meet, I love hearing their stories and I love sharing them with everyone because they become part of the story I’m telling. The leaders of the communities, I get to speak with them and learn about their passions and then the people who sign up as sponsors and travel with me, they have a wealth of information. I’m always learning more, and it’s exciting.”

To hear Thomas’ interview with Fuller, visit Thomas’ Web site at   http://www.aromanticsperspective.com/rik-ruby-slippers/.

 

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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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