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'Rochester Groovecast' paves way for new arts podcast 'The Process' 

click to enlarge Podcaster Ben Albert, left, is expanding the reach of his "Rochester Groovecast" brand with a new podcast by Siena Facciolo. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Podcaster Ben Albert, left, is expanding the reach of his "Rochester Groovecast" brand with a new podcast by Siena Facciolo.
Despite the robust community of artists and musicians in Rochester, the presence of local podcasts devoted to covering the scene is decidedly spottier. Launched in March 2022, one new podcast aiming to fill the void is "The Process," a series of monthly, one-on-one conversations with creators, hosted by musician, dancer, and teacher Siena Facciolo.

But "The Process" might not have come to fruition without "Rochester Groovecast," a prominent music and culture podcast created in 2016 by Ben Albert, who now runs the business advertising company Balbert Marketing LLC and the “Real Business Connections” network of podcasts.

Six years ago, Albert constantly binge-listened to podcasts, but he couldn’t find any specific to the Rochester music scene, he says. He was also feeling the weight of apathy as a consumer of the local cultural scene: he attended local shows and bought drinks at the bar, but he felt like he was contributing little in the way of new value.

“So that was my way of adding value,” he says. “I liked learning from people, I liked asking questions. I loved the local music scene, and I loved podcasting. So it was kind of just on a whim, ‘Let's start a podcast because this is something that our city needs.’”
click to enlarge Ben Albert's "Rochester Groovecast" focused on local musicians. On "The Process," host Siena Facciolo opens the conversation to artists across multiple mediums. - PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • PHOTO BY JACOB WALSH
  • Ben Albert's "Rochester Groovecast" focused on local musicians. On "The Process," host Siena Facciolo opens the conversation to artists across multiple mediums.
"Rochester Groovecast" became a way for Albert to contribute to the music community and advocate for local artists. He went on to produce 122 episodes over six years, achieving nearly 36,000 listens on Soundcloud since the podcast’s inception. In the first several years, episodes were released sporadically in conjunction with specific festivals or other events. But the pandemic-related shutdowns sparked a productive pace in which Albert produced, on average, more than one episode weekly between April 2020 and May 2021. Artists on the podcast included Avis Reese of Danielle Ponder’s band, Joe Stehle of The Sideways, Teagan Ward, Tyler Westcott of Folkfaces, and Facciolo herself.

By November 2020, however, Albert had begun a second podcast called "Rochester Business Connections" in which local business professionals in a wide range of fields have shared their work experiences and tips with listeners. For him, choosing Siena Facciolo to host a new show under the "Rochester Groovecast" banner was about finding the ideal person to whom he could relinquish creative control while keeping the "Rochester Groovecast" name visible and relevant.

click to enlarge theprocess.jpg
Facciolo sees some clear connective tissue between "Rochester Groovecast" and "The Process." She recalls her appearance on the former podcast and how Albert took interest in her and her bandmates as people in a way that went beyond the music, a quality she looks to continue in her own show, even as she expands its scope to include visual artists as well as musicians.

And where the conversations on "Rochester Groovecast" would typically revolve around a particular song or album of the musician being interviewed, conversations on "The Process" are less structured and more personal and intimate. In the podcast’s first episode, Facciolo and R&B-soul musician Zahyia opened up to each other about mental health struggles and their effects on creativity.

“So many people are living with these things, and we just need to talk about it so that people don’t feel as alone,” Facciolo says.

Facciolo says the podcast exists as a way for her to commiserate with fellow artists and have therapeutic conversations while providing listeners with empathy and appreciation for the lives of creative people.

“I want to get to the truth of people's experiences. That's all I want. I don't care what the truth is. I just want them to tell the truth on the podcast. That's all I care about.” Facciolo says the podcast is also meant to inspire people to be more creative in their own lives.

"The Process" is available at rochestergroovecast.com, and on other podcast streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Moving forward, Albert sees "The Process" as the first product of the Rochester Groovecast Collective — what he hopes will be an expanding network of podcasters, writers, and photographers that will cover the local music and culture scene.

“That's always been the vision,” Albert says. “But it's always been a side hustle. And it's still a side hustle. But part of why I'm humbled that Siena is keeping it going so strong is it's not going anywhere. And even if this vision doesn't come to fruition for another 10 years, it will.”

Daniel J. Kushner is CITY’s arts editor. He can be reached at dkushner@rochester-citynews.com.
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