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The Overlook with Matt Peiken
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The Overlook with Matt Peiken

Author: Matt Peiken

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Local newsmakers, civic leaders, journalists, artists and others in the know talk with host Matt Peiken about the growing, complicated city of Asheville, N.C. New episodes are available Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

173 Episodes
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LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!This is the second half of my conversation with Hedy Fischer and Gail McCarthy, who along with their artist husbands bought buildings in the River Arts District early on and are committed to keeping those buildings open and affordable for other artists. They’re joined here by Stephanie Monson Dahl, the city’s manager of Urban Design, Place Strategies, and Long Range Planning.If you missed Part One, dial back in your podcasting app ...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Hedy Fischer and Gail McCarthy have been in Asheville since the late 1970s and, along with their artist husbands, played critical roles in the evolution of the River Arts District from a neglected, polluted wasteland of warehouses into the thriving arts and commerce destination it is today. They also have thoughts on whether the scales of progress for the neighborhood have tipped too far.Today is the first in a two-part conversatio...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Hear Here is a performance and podcast series designed to elevate conversation around local rock and indie music. I invited two all-female bands to the May 28 evening of Hear Here at Citizen Vinyl. The bands Detective Blind and O•VAD•YA come from different generations. Detective Blind are three sisters—the eldest is only 17—while most of the members of O•VAD•YA are in their 50s and 60s. Still, the bands made fast friends...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!There are about 400 Bee City USA programs across 47 states, all with a mission to sustain pollinators by increasing native plants and nest sites while reducing the use of pesticides. The entire Bee City movement started in Asheville 12 years ago with the efforts of Phyllis Stiles. During the thick of a month of pollination celebration here, I talk with Stiles about her path to pollination through beekeeping and the start and ...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Pete Candler wears many creative hats. He’s a photographer and maker of short films—all of it self-taught—and he’s also an author and recovering academic.His new book, titled “A Deeper South," is both an internal and external travelogue over 25 years of road trips through the American South. We’ll also talk about leaving a tenured professorship at Baylor University to pursue his creative impulses, why he has always been drawn to ph...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Madison Brightwell and Don Silver are local novelists who don’t know each other but have similar creative trajectories. Both spent early years behind the scenes—Brightwell in film production, Silver working for music mogul Clive Davis—before turning to more conventional careers. It wasn’t until their 40s that both leaned into writing fiction. Silver’s new generation-spanning, coming-of-age book is titled “Scorched.” Our talk i...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Most people reading or listening to this likely take their literacy for granted. But for thousands of youth and adults throughout Buncombe County, literacy is a hurdle impacting nearly every element of life.My guests are executive director Amanda Wrubleski and program directors Rebecca Massey and Erin Sebelius with Literacy Together. It’s an Asheville nonprofit training and teaming reading tutors with struggling youth, immigrants, ...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!April 27 marked the debut of "Hear Here," a series presented in tandem with Citizen Vinyl to elevate conversation around local rock and indie music. The premiere featured talk and performances with the bands Pink Beds and Caged Affair.This episode is all about Caged Affair, a vocalist-guitarist son and his drumming father from Waynesville, whose music is shaped by '90s bands such as Nirvana, Weezer and Everclear.The next "Hear Here...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!We all know the impact of Asheville’s skyrocketing housing costs. What we don’t hear nearly as much about is how artists and arts organizations are finding it more challenging to do their work in Asheville.Affordable workspaces was the topic of the latest ArtsAVL Creative Space Town Hall. Matt Peiken moderated a May 10 panel at Asheville Community Theater and recorded it to bring it to you here.Joining Matt on stage were DeWayne Ba...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!We hear a lot about pervasive social issues in our community—homelessness, addiction, racial inequities, affordable housing, liveable wages. All of those play roles in one particular need we rarely hear about—diapers.My guests today are Alicia Heacock and Meagan Lyon Leimena, co-executive directors of Babies Need Bottoms, an Asheville nonprofit diaper bank that distributes about 40,000 diapers every month to partner organizations a...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!It’s a female-powered, multi-generational, one-of-a-kind lineup for the next Hear Here—Tuesday, May 28, featuring the Asheville-area bands Detective Blind and O•VAD•YA.Listen here for clips of their music. Advance tickets are just $12.Wake Up, Asheville! and ¡Despierta Asheville! (in Spanish) are new morning newscast podcasts that give you all the local news you need to know in under five minutes. Both are free to subscribe/f...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!April 27 marked the debut of "Hear Here," a series presented in tandem with Citizen Vinyl to elevate conversation around local rock and indie music. The premiere featured talk and performances with the bands Pink Beds and Caged Affair.This episode is all about Pink Beds, a quartet shaped by disco, old-school pop and contemporary rock. You’ll hear the episode with Caged Affair next Friday, May 17. The next "Hear Here" evening i...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Asheville artists Heather Hietala and Nava Lubelski have already tasted success commercial success. Now, their new work in separate exhibitions marks new ground in their personal and artistic evolutions.In the first half, I talk with Hietala, whose response to her mother's death takes shape in the two- and three-dimensional canoes and boats that are metaphors for personal journeys. After the break, we meet Lubelski, who was an emer...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen have spent many years building lives for themselves in contemporary dance. Not long ago, they believed they largely had to perform and teach around the country to make it sustainable. Now, fueled by artistic residencies in Western North Carolina and the embrace of the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, the couple hopes Stewart-Owen Dance can become a fixture for Asheville dancers and audiences.Th...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!David Brendan Hopes has written more novels, poems and plays than he can count. The river of writing hasn’t slowed at all since his retirement from UNC-Asheville, where Hopes taught English and creative writing for more than three decades.Hopes’ newest play is titled “A God in the Waters.” The Sublime Theater in Asheville is premiering it May 9-18 at the Bebe Theater. We’ll talk about the play in the second half as part of a larger...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Talks of establishing a business improvement district in downtown Asheville stretch back to the 1980s. But over the past year, those talks have gained a lot of momentum, and some civic leaders are lobbying city council to approve it before the start of the next fiscal year.A chorus of critics are also reaching a crescendo with their opposition, pushing back against what they see as vague details, a lack of accountability and oversi...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!There’s seemingly a full-court press from certain civic leaders to push Asheville City Council to approve a business improvement district for downtown. This BID would tax property owners, and by extension downtown commercial and residential tenants, to pay for a supplemental workforce to help the city’s efforts to clean up downtown and make it safer for the people who live, work and visit downtown.Amid this push, a pushback is deve...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Choral groups were among the hardest-hit and slowest to rebound from the pandemic. Two of the region’s enduring choirs are still finding their footing both artistically and in the wider public.Today, we hear from the choirs’ two artistic directors—Kyle Ritter of Asheville Symphony Chorus and Emily Floyd of Asheville Youth Choirs. They’re performing together April 27 at First Baptist Church. We talk with the choral directors ab...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Just as Asheville’s arts community has evolved, so too has ArtsAVL. It changed its name just a year and a half ago from the Asheville Area Arts Council and, even before the pandemic, refocused its mission from service to advocacy. My guest today is Katie Cornell, executive director now in her fifth year with ArtsAVL. We talk about that mission shift and the work that goes into gathering the data to inform her advocacy with elected ...
LISTENERS: Have thoughts about this episode? Send them my way!Want to know what’s happening with McCormick Field, Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and the Western North Carolina Nature Center? My guest has the answers.Chris Corl is General Manager and Director of Community & Regional Entertainment Facilities for the City of Asheville. We go into detail about the upcoming trip around the bases for McCormick Field’s renovation, including what’s being done to turn the stadium into a year-round facili...
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