While doing research on my new state and town, I found the podcast, “What’s Up ABQ?” and reached out to its brother-sister team, Ryan Freeman and Lindsey Dominguez.
Ryan and Lindsey used to host a radio talk show in Albuquerque, so they had a little practice before diving in. Anecdotally, I can confirm their podcast is fun to listen to, and has been a great way for me to learn about some of the amazing people that make up Albuquerque.
Because of pandemic related challenges getting Internet service, Ryan, Lindsey and I were unable to get together for an audio interview so they graciously agreed to do a Q&A with me. (Next time we talk, it’ll be an audio interview- stay tuned!)
Lindsey is an NM transplant but has lived here for over a decade. She likes her craft beer dark and paired with a good Albuquerque patio. Lindsey’s side projects include co-hosting another podcast with her husband, Lorenzo as well as making art, and selling jewelry locally. Lindsey has a passion for meeting new people and learning about them. You can usually find her seeking out the best doughnuts in ABQ with her three kids or drinking coffee and talking to strangers. She enjoys green chile but red is slowly catching up.
Ryan P Freeman
Ryan P Freeman is a hybrid author with over a decade of writing experience. He’s an active member of the Missouri, St Louis, and Hannibal Writers Guilds (Founder, former President). Ryan also is the Lead Creative for Author Services, which helps writers of all abilities and genres with everything from developing an author platform, formatting, and editing, publishing consultation, to marketing and PR. He was also the lead marketer for Gateway to Publishing Conference and Convention for three consecutive years, as well as a seasoned podcaster, former radio host, public speaker, and writing panelist at Archon, the St Louis Public Library, and NaNoWriMo regional speaker.
Here then, are Lindsey and Ryan’s answers via Ryan’s keyboard- be sure to check out What’s Up ABQ- it’s really great:
Q: First, can you tell us why you created, “What’s Up ABQ?”
Honestly, we just started it last summer because we wanted to. Then, I had recently moved back to town from Hannibal, MO – after a decade away from Albuquerque, it felt like a whole-new town to me (and still does). I wanted to re-discover my own city. I really didn’t have any idea where to go when I wanted a great cup of coffee or a craft-brew (always dark!). In the past, my sister Lindsey and I had hosted a live talk radio show here in town, so we had that past shared experience. When she asked me one day if I wanted to do a podcast, I immediately knew my answer.
Q: I’m a newcomer to Albuquerque and New Mexico; Both of you have lived in other places. Can you tell me a bit about where you’ve lived, and how it affects your view of Albuquerque as it is right now?
Sure thing. Originally, we both grew up in Portland, OR. When our family moved to Albuquerque in the summer of 2000 initially it was a shock. We went from rain and towering pines (the ocean!) to a vast desert with a whole different vibe. I remember seeing my first monsoon thunderstorm and realizing rain actually had a smell. Amazing! We’ve also lived in Missouri during college years as well. Traveling and living abroad tends to give one perspective. It revealed to me just how unique Albuquerque is. This town and its people are wonderfully creative and supportive – and what’s more, they’re by and large still unassuming about their skill and talent, which makes them down to earth, approachable, and far less limited. Communities here are genuinely supportive – a trait you often don’t find elsewhere.
Q: I’ve heard the challenges Albuquerque faces; (in your opinion) over the last decade, would you say it’s moved in a positive or negative direction?
Albuquerque’s story is one which is written by the everyday choices of its people. By and large, I think it’s a positive one (and I’m not just saying that, either). After talking to so many people all over town, each with a diverse perspective, the consensus is that while we still have challenges, Albuquerque is forging its own future – one built around innovation, an ever-green spirit, and a distinct choice for embracing micro-community rather than massive retail chains, too-big-to-fail corporations, and herd mentality group-think.
Q: As I start talking to people here, I have learned I need an answer to ‘red, or green,’ when it comes to Chili’s (Also: Is it “Chilis” or “Chiles” when referring to more than one pepper?) What do you both like, and has it changed at all over time?
It’s ‘chile’, Edward. I’m fairly sure we both started preferring the green or Christmas variety, but inevitably, we’ve both drifted towards the red category (Lindsey, especially). I still usually like green on the side, but there are some things like tamales and posole where only red will do.
Q: Tell us some about the DIY attitude of Albuquerque.
Burque is a sort of place where you can fail fast and hard and spring right back up. It’s a place where people genuinely want to support local – not just a one-day-a-year slogan used to prop up an aging downtown for tourism. One of the other big reasons we started What’s Up ABQ is because there are so many good people doing amazing things right down the street. All too often we become hoodwinked by crime stories and national politics, and forget that there are lights shining not a block over from where we sit hypnotized by the TV. Albuquerque is a place for real people to try their dreams, and come what may, they can keep at it.
Q: I’ve heard a little about microbrews/craft brews here- is it as popular as it seems? How long has it been happening?
Oh yeah! Well, Marble Brewery and Santa Fe Brewing were basically the grandfathers of the craft brewers – but since a few decades have passed, we’ve truly seen a sort of environment where quality microbreweries can flourish here. When we were talking to Kim, one of the co-owners of Thirsty Eye down on Broadway, he shared how grateful he was that in this town, if they need to borrow a cup of hops from another brewery a few blocks over, they’re always welcome. That sort of open-door kindness and community is one of Albuquerque’s excellent hallmarks.
Q: Along with microbrews, I’ve noticed other food brands (Piñon Coffee 505 Southwestern Brand sauces, etc.) all made in New Mexico. You don’t always see so much local pride in other states and cities- is this segment growing for New Mexico, and do either of you have a favorite New Mexico made brand?
No, you don’t – it’s a conscientious decision we’ve both been making for years… to buy local. Not only do local goods and products tend to have better quality, you know exactly who you’re supporting and why it matters. We both like Redrock Roasters. I have a particular weakness for the Balloon Fiesta calendars (especially when I still lived out of state), and green chile from Hatch.
Q: The Balloon Fiesta sounds incredible and assuming it happens this year, I’m very excited about it. Can you give us an idea of what it encompasses and the economic and cultural importance it has?
Balloon Fiesta is incredible! I mean, where else do you get to see over 500 hot air balloons rise in the morning over the desert? Or walk among them during the night glows. Sure, the traffic gets a little crazy, but I think it’s worth it. When Balloon Fiesta comes, the city swells. People from all over the world come here for this, and while they’re here we get to share our incredible local experience with them all. It’s an annual cultural staple – like a shared mass experience that everyone enjoys together every year.
Q: The history of New Mexico and its clash of cultures all throughout its existence is fascinating. How are things now? Do most people tend to get along? Do you think the diversity here makes the region stronger?
Things are really healthy and strong here. While there has been culture clashes in the past all throughout the southwest, it’s really only been in New Mexico that an understanding, peace, and fusion has been found. In turn, this has created our own dynamic culture. Where else in the world can you see a living blend of Native American, Spanish, and Anglo culture like this? Diversity not only makes a region stronger, it’s essential for a healthy society and the perseverance of humanity. It’s not always perfect, but often the willingness to struggle together makes all the difference.
Q: Along with entrepreneurship, I’ve taken note of there being a large community of artists here. What have you seen, and is this a draw to the area?
New Mexico has a legacy stretching back to antiquity for art and creative endeavors of all kinds. This drive is evident all over town to this day – from the myriad murals, to the full-to-bursting scene down at the Rail Yards, to writers, designers, and clothing/jewelry. It’s a huge draw to the area – whether it’s turquoise jewelry, iconic route 66 memorabilia, or new shows made by our own burgeoning local film industry.
Q: Population: It seems Albuquerque is growing, but not super fast. In terms of government, do you see growth staying the same or accelerating? With Facebook, Netflix, NBC and more building here, do you expect more growth?
After living in Missouri for a decade, then coming back, I’m certain we’ve grown here and many agree we’re set to continue growing, too. I think there’s a nice steady growth – it’s not too rapid, but it’s definitely not stagnant, either. The film and tech industry had been a great boon for us, for sure. Many burquenos find themselves poised between yearning to be discovered and recognized by the rest of the world, while still wanting to remain a hidden gem.
Q: Using Albuquerque as a home base, how easy is it to see the other interesting/cool parts of New Mexico? Have any faves?
As one of our podcast guests once said, the great thing about Albuquerque is that it’s surrounded by New Mexico. We’re basically smack-dab right in the middle of the state. There are so many awesome places to check out, I sometimes wonder if we’re spoiled for the abundance of them. I love Hermit’s Peak up in the Sangre de Cristos. There’s Chaco Canyon, Santa Fe (reachable by our own lightrail, the Roadrunner), Carlsbad Caverns, cliff dwellings in the Gila and Bandolier, Sky City, Blue Hole, Taos, White Sands… I could go on!
Q: What’s a key takeaway about Albuquerque I haven’t asked?
Too often, when other organizations approach us about What’s Up ABQ, they have business on the brain. Numbers, profit, cost, exposure. While our show might touch on those things from time to time, that’s not really what we’re about and it’s not what Albuquerque is about, either. Since we often interview local businesses, we literally want to know what’s going on down the street and we want to shine a light on the awesome people our city has – they deserve our time, support, and recognition. We’re about fun – hanging out – and sharing life together – as simple as that.
I’d love to hear from you
Do you know of a great New Mexican story? A person that deserves recognition? A business? Get in touch, I’d love to hear: [email protected]