Reno made its name by welcoming the kinds of things other cities wouldn’t touch. To this day it has a reputation for vice and seediness that outsiders view with scorn, but locals consider part of their community’s gritty charm.
The City is an investigative podcast produced by the USA Today network.
It’s in its second season, which is focused on Reno and a fight for the city’s character as leaders welcome the new wave of tech firms and upscale developers who are changing the face of the Biggest Little City.
Anjeanette Damon is an investigative reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal and the lead reporter for the latest season in the podcast.
She told KNPR's State of Nevada the podcast is centered around the fight between strip club owners and the city of Reno but the subtext is the growing tension between Old Reno and New Reno.
"They've been part our fabric in downtown Reno for decades and suddenly the Reno City Council turned on them, said, 'We don't think you should necessarily be in downtown anymore,'" she said, "And that kind of small fight turned into more of a metaphor for the larger fight that's going on over Reno's future."
Damon said the podcast gets into that fight over the future of the city significantly in the podcast.
"This is a story of the people who caught in the middle," she said, "You have a lot of very powerful people fighting over what Reno looks like, what Reno should be. You have people at the same time trying to hang on. Trying to hang onto their homes, trying to hang onto their jobs, trying to find a place to live if they are lucky enough to get a well-paying job here."
The fight over the strip clubs was also a fight between people who wanted to keep their businesses - of the four strip clubs in downtown three are owned by the same family - and those who wanted to revitalize the downtown area and eliminate the image that has grown up around Reno.
"You have Mike Kazmierski, who is the head of economic development in the region, and he talks a lot about he didn't even want to come work in Reno because of the reputation it had," she said.
There was also a group of people in the city baffled as to why the city would focus on a small fight, which they felt was meaningless, instead of on larger problems like affordable housing and overflowing homeless shelters.
Damon said when she and her team first started talking about the podcast in late 2017 and early 2018 everyone in the city had an opinion about the issue.
Now, attention to the issue has waned. She wants the podcast to spark a larger conversation about the city and where it is going.
"I hope that the work through this podcast generates that larger community conversation that we should be having about how we want to move into the future, who gets to benefit and how do we bring everybody along in a way that works for the community."
Anjeanette Damon, lead reporter, The City podcast
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