Light Culture Celebrates 100 Episodes

Light Culture celebrated its 100th episode this week with notorious American filmmaker and artist, Jim Jarmusch. As a celebratory achievement for the two-year-old podcast, we interviewed David Hershkovits, founder of Paper Magazine and host of Light Culture.

Q: How did Light Culture start?

A: Burb CEO Johnny Kaye knew of Paper Magazine, and after it was acquired he reached out to me to tell me about this cannabis company he and a few others were starting. We talked, and he sounded like someone who understood the importance of supporting the cannabis culture in its broadest sense. I flew out to Vancouver, met Johnny’s partners Clayton Chessa and Steve Dowsley. We chopped it up, smoked some weed, started brainstorming and landed on a podcast called Light Culture, which launched before Burb had even opened one dispensary. So I have to thank the Burb team for their vision and support of this project.

Q: What was your vision for it and how has it evolved?

A: The original vision has not changed, but the scope of guests has. I’ve always been fascinated by subcultures entering the mainstream, from punk to graffiti and hip hop to skateboarding, street art, street wear and now — most glaringly — cannabis. My sweet spot is cultural disruptors, both indie and corporate and with the cannabis movement this was happening before our eyes — and still is.

Cannabis has a storied past and important legacy to uphold in its belief in the beneficence of the plant and its potential to improve our lives. Relatively new to the industry, I originally focused on guests who helped me learn about the Green Rush, CBD, social justice issues, the various factions within the industry. I’d mix in OGs like Fab 5 Fred Brathwaite, Futura and Ricky Powell, but also political thought leaders like Xeni Jardin and Douglas Rushkoff. Today I like to think of it as for people “who also smoke."

Q: How do you think it is connected to your work at Paper?

A: I founded Paper and contributed articles and a column for over 30 years. I met a lot of people and conducted hundreds of interviews. Even before hooking up with Burb I’d fallen in love with the podcast format and found it to be a good fit for me. Like Paper, it keeps me engaged with the culture, helps me to shed light on the work of creatives that I admire and keeps me connected to a new generation and industry on the brink of doing some great things, especially when it comes to progressive politics.

Q: What was one of your favourite moments from recording?

A: Sadly, it was interviewing the photographer and Beastie Boys court jester Ricky Powell (RIP). We knew each other’s schtick and played off of that in the podcast. Lots of laughs with the Rickster.

Q: Which guest surprised you the most?

A: It’s always my most recent interview. It’s a real privilege to talk with someone you admire and ask them questions even their best friends won’t have the chance to ask. Most recently — in my 100th episode with film director Jim Jarmusch — it was asking him how he feels about Hollywood and why he likes to cast musicians like Iggy Pop, Joe Strummer, Nas and others as actors in his movies.

Q: How is podcasting different from publishing a magazine?

A: Some obvious differences are that it’s a lot less work in that I’m only focusing on one story — not the many more that typically go into a magazine. It’s more of an oral history, less editing and more immediate.

Q: How is it similar?

A: When it comes to getting the magazine or the podcast published, distributed and seen there’s always more work to be done. There’s always the feeling that more people need to know about Light Culture and what do we have to do in terms of social and other marketing to make sure they do.

Q: Why do you think cultural content is important in the cannabis industry?

A: The cannabis industry has a great legacy, figuring very much in the history “Culture Wars" that are still raging. Starting with the anti Vietnam War movement, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, prison reform, the environment, freedom of expression, stories from the people who are at the forefront of the cultural revolution.

Q: Who would be your all time dream guest dead or alive?

A: Bob Marley!

Q: What's your favorite part of making a podcast?

A: Talking with my guest. They never fail to surprise and delight.

Q: What is your vision for the future of LC?

A: Light Culture will continue to grow and help point the way to a better today and tomorrow. Light Culture will expand its footprint in video with some other surprises in the works.

Further Listening...

Check out Light Culture's most popular episodes featuring: Carter Cruise, Briana King, Joe Murray, Xeni Jardin and more.

By: Esther Hershkovits
Esther is a writer and creative strategist from New York City.