Shawn Kennedy

July 5, 2021

This local hotelier owns and operates several hotels and motels along Interstate 40, giving him an up-close-and-personal look at the travelers who stop in our city. Ragha grew up in a family-owned motel business—as a child, he literally lived in his family’s motel—but wasn’t sure he wanted to pursue that career as an adult. In this episode, he tells the story of what brought him back, and why Amarillo has such a vibrant hotel industry. “Vic is so attuned to the world of travel and tourism in Amarillo. He had a front-row seat at how COVID first disrupted that industry and then its rapid recovery late last year,” Jason says. “Locals rarely think about our hotels, so this conversation helps you see our city from a fresh perspective.” 

Julian Reese

July 12, 2021

“One of my favorite things to do on the podcast is introduce guests who have unique careers, and Julian definitely qualifies,” Jason says. Julian Reese is probably best-known as the head coach of the Amarillo Venom, the local professional indoor football team. But he’s also a funeral director at Golden Gate Mortuary, a business he co-owns. A highly touted football prospect, Reese came to Amarillo after an injury hampered his potential for an NFL career. He’d barely heard of our city at the time, and just hoped for a chance to find his way back into pro football. But Reese ended up staying, getting married, and immersing himself in the community. “Amarillo is better for it. I’m glad he planted roots here,” says Jason.

R. Taylor Moore

July 19, 2021

Featured in this issue on page 64, the novelist Taylor Moore recorded this interview with Jason two years ago, right after finishing the manuscript that became the novel Down Range. “I chose to re-release this episode because I wanted my listeners to be reminded of where Taylor was at that point, and then see where he landed,” Jason says. In the interview, Moore details his intelligence career with the CIA and how he arrived in the Texas Panhandle “kicking and screaming” before discovering a deep-seated love for the landscape and its people. “Down Range is a fantastic, smart thriller and I really think it’s going to be a huge success for Taylor,” Jason says. “Read it now and get ready. Big things are about to happen.” 

Abigail Rivera

July 26, 2021

Abi Rivera was the first member of her family to graduate from high school. After numerous stops around the state, she and her husband came to Amarillo, where she embarked on a career as a barber. Specializing in men’s cuts, she originally worked out of a shed behind her home. Today she’s the owner of The Society Barbershop, an upscale shop with two locations in Amarillo and an extremely loyal clientele. “I love unconventional career stories, and Abi’s path to entrepreneurship will be an encouragement to everyone who listens,” Jason says. “The business side of things didn’t come naturally for her—she had to forge her own path—but her skill, ambition and commitment to service definitely brought her success.”

Jimmy Lackey

Aug. 2, 2021

“SO many people have mentioned this episode to me,” Jason says of this interview with the Kids Inc. President and CEO. “Obviously, Jimmy is a great storyteller and advocate, but I think the real draw is Kids Inc. itself. That organization has impacted multiple generations of Amarillo families, including mine.” Last year, the youth sports organization celebrated its 75th anniversary, a milestone that was overshadowed by a cancelled spring season amid the COVID shutdown. Lackey tells how the organization started, how it fought its way through the pandemic, and how local businesses and donors stepped up to keep it afloat during an incredibly difficult year.

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