AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast

The Extra Mile with Mississippi DOT

October 18, 2022 Will Craft, Government and Constituent Affairs at Mississippi DOT and Paul Katool, Digital Media Manager at Mississippi DOT Season 3 Episode 24
The Extra Mile with Mississippi DOT
AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast
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AASHTO re:source Q & A Podcast
The Extra Mile with Mississippi DOT
Oct 18, 2022 Season 3 Episode 24
Will Craft, Government and Constituent Affairs at Mississippi DOT and Paul Katool, Digital Media Manager at Mississippi DOT

In this episode peek behind the scenes of the award-winning podcast, The Extra Mile, presented by the Mississippi DOT, as we talk with co-hosts Will Craft and Paul Katool.

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode peek behind the scenes of the award-winning podcast, The Extra Mile, presented by the Mississippi DOT, as we talk with co-hosts Will Craft and Paul Katool.

Related information:

AASHTO re:source Q&A Podcast Transcript

Season 3, Episode 24: The Extra Mile with Mississippi DOT

Recorded: October 4, 2022

Released: October 18, 2022

Host(s): Brian Johnson, AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager and Kim Swanson, Communications Manager, AASHTO re:source

Guest(s): Will Craft, Government and Constituent Affairs at MDOT and Paul Katool, Digital Media Manager at MDOT

Transcribed by Kim Swanson and MS Teams.

 [Theme music fades in.]

[00:00:02] Announcer: Welcome to AASHTO resource Q & A. We're taking time to discuss construction materials, testing, and inspection with people in the know from exploring testing problems and solutions to laboratory best practices and quality management, we're covering topics important to you. 

[00:00:20] Brian: Welcome to Ash to resource Q&A. I'm Brian Johnson.

[00:00:24] Kim: And I'm Kim Swanson. And who do we have with us here today, Brian?

[00:00:27] Brian: Well, today we're going to do a little podcast cross promotion with one of the AASHTO member DOT's. Our guests today are Will Craft and Paul Katool, cohosts the award-winning podcast, The Extra Mile, which is presented by Mississippi DOT. Welcome to the podcast guys.

[00:00:46] Will: Hey all. 

[00:00:47] Paul: Thank you for having us.

[00:00:48] Will: Absolutely.

[00:00:50] Brian: Yeah. Have you ever heard award-winning before your podcast before?

[00:00:54] Will: Yeah, not not so much. It was a pretty exciting experience.

[00:00:58] Paul: Truly an honor for sure. We're excited about it. Definitely as our bosses, so yeah.

[00:01:03] Brian: I'm sure, and we'll get into that, but some of our listeners may not have heard of The Extra Mile yet, so I wanted to see you before we get too deep into it. What can your listeners expect from the Extra Mile podcast?

[00:01:18] Paul: Yes. So, it's kind of an inside look at transportation infrastructure in the state of Mississippi. We try to have a variety guest. Everybody from you know people at MDOT. So, you know engineers and people of interest here to outside the agency. So, a lot of elected officials and kind of stakeholders and key people that affect funding and policy and all that sort of thing for us. 

[00:1:40] Will: We kind of take a deeper dive into legislation and policy stuff, as the January rolls around kind of get into the session, but outside of that we interact with, you know, mayors against Paul Mission folks here in our staff talk about projects going on MDOT or maybe or even partnership projects going on other places we were just in City of Oxford last week. So, we did our podcast with the mayor there, talked about some of the projects going on there and just kind of just what's going on, a pulse check of transportation, politics and the state.

[00:02:14] Paul: Really it's, you know, it provides, like a longer form obviously. But you know there you can put a Facebook post out there or a press release, but transportation infrastructure is kind of inherently a complex thing. So it gives us a little more time and a better format to explain everything to the public.

[00:02:30] Brian: I really like the long form explanations too.  I listened to a couple of your episodes and I love the depth that you get into with your guests and just the interesting experience that they can provide to those conversations. Now as far as the strategy of coming up with a podcast is concerned, it seems like DOTS are getting really creative these days in communicating. You see Tik Tok videos and podcasts and funny tweets and traffic signs and all sorts of other things. Now why is this type of communication so important to the DOTS these days?

[00:03:10] Paul: Podcast are you know, such a thing these days. You know, people listen to them, you know, on their way to work, you know, when they're cooking or, you know, really doing anything.  People like to listen podcast now. I will say there's a little strategy. You know, we're not going an hour long or two hours long. So, we do try to keep him 20 minutes and digestible. You can look at the metrics which one of the things I like data and looking at metrics and things like that within the communications realm to kind of improve your process and everything and you know so around 20 minutes is what we like to try to for. 

[00:03:39] Will: Again, talking about the inherently complex kind of nature of transportation. There's projects going on everywhere. You really want the traveling public to be constantly aware, even you know, going through a work zone, maybe there's not any work going on that day, but some of the geometry has changed. You know, we just want folks to be there. So, any opportunity to kind of get our message out and connect, interact with the public out there is a welcome experience. This one has been a little different because I'm involved, and this is totally new to me. So, we appreciate all the kind words for sure.

[00:04:11] Paul: One of the great things been bringing Will on board, so when we started out, I think we had someone else and she actually left the agency and I think it was it Jason's or my boss's idea to bring you on or to approach Will I don't even know how that happened. But so I work in public affairs Will works kind of on the 10th floor leadership team with doing government and constituent affairs and I think it's actually added so much kind of our different backgrounds.

[00:04:37] Brian: I agree. I think you both bring a lot to the podcast and it is different. But how did you put this whole team together? I mean, you've got this is probably a good opportunity to mention your other teammates too. But how did this all come together as far as personnel is concerned?

[00:04:53] Paul: My boss, Jason Smith, the Public Affairs Director of Mississippi DOT and he always wanted to a podcast. I'm not going to lie. I never thought it would work. I didn't think it was a good idea. So, I kind of put it off until one day he was like, make it happen. So, I kind of talked to people at Idaho DOT. They do a great podcast and some people in state government outside of Mississippi to kind of get how they were doing it best practices, equipment workflow, all that kind of thing. And then really just, you know, worked on getting the equipment and everything together. And then really just kind of dove into it.  We have a full-time producer. Well, she does other stuff. Katie Hornsby. She's really good at logistics and also has a background in broadcast. So, she can kind of coach us up. And then Drew Hall, who is our editor, is lightning-quick at editing, just does a phenomenal job. He's from, like, the news world as well. And he was on deadlines a lot of the time. So, he makes things happen. That's kind of how it came together.  I was just told make it happen and then I kind of selected the people to be part of it. He let me do that. But then I definitely kind of took a step back a little bit and it's become kind of a team for sure and everyone does a lot of work on it.

[00:06:03] Will: Everyone else does way more than I do, though I want to [Brian: Laughing.] make that very clear. I am. I'm just glad to be a part of it for sure. 

[00:06:11] Paul: Yeah. Drew and Katie probably do more work than me and Will. We just fixed. So, they did it. They definitely do. 

[00:06:14] Will: They do.

[00:06:17] Paul: So, want to give them a shout out to. There's certainly put a lot of hard work into it.

[00:06:21] Brian: Now Kim is kind of quiet here, but one of the things that we got really lucky about when we put ours together is that we have somebody who has news experience, production experience, that having editing experience all in one with Kim Swanson here. So, we hit the jackpot on our end. I now you guys both have day jobs. I assume just like the rest of us. If you don't mind, Will what do you do? What's your normal day job before you start getting involved in the podcast?

[00:06:48] Will: I handle our Government and Constituent Affairs here at the agency. It ends up being as most state employees I think in any state would agree, positions you oftentimes wear multiple hats. Very similar to that here during the session. I'm primarily camp out at the Capitol. I'm involved pretty much 7 to 7 over there. Measures going on, you know, different policy changes, gas taxes, always a big topic and with the budget being one of the larger ones, what it is, it always gets a lot of attention. So that sort of occupies a lot of time at doing that. And then again just kind of piggyback and further off that we're state agency, right, we're we have stakeholders from contractors to you know Rd builders to even again the legislature or so I'll spend a lot of time just in communication with those guys trying to kind of not necessarily cut through to make paths easier. Roads easier, pun intended. But maybe if there's been, you know, a catch and communication somewhere or breakdown should I say just trying to help move things along there. And then finally just kind of that constituent affairs side of it. So anything from you know just a normal average public person out there that tall pothole than wanted to call it in they may end up calling Paul public affairs or. They may not get my number. So, just fielding. You know, daily calls from all kind of three phases of that from specifically government to maybe local government even down to the just the general public. So, lots of phone times, lots of emails that generally in my degree’s communication. So again, I don't have the public affairs background, but I always say my degree I just talked my way into then letting me out of college. So that's kind of my background.

[00:08:37] Brian: Alright, that Paul, same question for you.

[00:08:39] Paul: Yes. So, I'm the Digital Media Manager and Public Affairs. So, a lot of web stuff. So uh, lots of social media. I work with like our Information Systems Team, our IT team on the website a good bit. Yeah. Any kind of web project, media monitoring. Anything that touches the web. I suppose.

[00:08:56] Will: Multiple hats. 

[00:08:57] Paul: do a little bit of everything.

[00:08:58] Brian: And did you guys work together before this at all?  

[00:09:01] Will: I mean, we definitely interacted, but we didn't necessarily work together. As you would imagine there's plenty of times where the political world crosses with the public affairs side of things. So, I mean constantly in communication with him and the rest of their staff, but definitely more so these days. I'm a lot more fun too.

[00:09:19] Brian: With your day jobs and now you're you've been hosting this podcast and we've got quite a bit more experience hosting it. Has it changed the way you work in your day job or does it change the way you think about things or maybe you think about different things now than you did before as a host of this podcast?

[00:09:38] Paul: In my day-to-day, I might think, you know, that might be a good thing for the podcast, but I don't know if it really is changed anything other than another thing to do [Brian & Will: Laughing.]. but I enjoy it. I do enjoy it, but yes it is can be time consuming. You know we like Will said we take it on the road. We've actually done that a good bit. Our studio and everything is mobile. So yeah, we actually went to Louisiana DOT and other AASHTO members not too long ago and talked to Dr.
Sean Wilson who's obviously they're their CEO's. So yeah we get out and about.

[00:10:10] Will: Yeah. And I'll echo that. I mean it, it's definitely from the aspect of like random thought throughout the day. You know, there's been so many times even like, you know, laying my bed at night. I've, I've written things down, been like, that's a good idea for the podcast, you know.  And the travel aspect of it kind of where we started out doing everything here in our little studio and doing things and somehow we kind of got the notion to let can we take it on the road maybe, go visit some of these spots. And I think that was kind of really the game changer.  And it being a more daily thought process of not just who we're talking to now. You know what we're talking about, but where and you know venues kind of set up you know. Do we want to be in a location that has kind of a story attached to it is that part of the pocket you know so lots of things like that it's just been interesting. Yeah, it's funny to say that it has changed my thought process maybe not to a great degree but again there's at least been two times that I can think of immediately where I was.  Laying in my bed at night and thought, oh it's I need to remember that and have jotted it down. I think I could text you one time. 

[00:11:17] Paul: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

[00:11:10] Brian: It's always there. I mean, you're a show host, so it's always going to be there. You're going to be thinking about it. Alright, let's talk about your guests. You alluded to some of them before, but I'm really impressed with the roster that you put together there. Former governors Haley Barber and Ronnie Musgrove. I mean, that's a huge pull for both of those mayors of Hattiesburg, Oxford and Vicksburg. State senators, your Secretary of State for Mississippi Lieutenant governor. Other politicians that. Of course I have to mention your Executive Director, Brad White, who's probably helped make this thing happen in Chief Engineer Brian Ratliff. I enjoyed that one quite a bit, actually, because he really got into a lot of things that people don't think about when they think about the DOT. So, I found that be pretty interesting. Other people at the DOT, of course. And you mentioned Doctor Sean Wilson as well from Louisiana DOTD. So how do you get these great guests?

[00:12:15] Paul: So, you mentioned our Executive Director, Brad White, who's Will's boss and you know, drill down a few bits. he's my boss's boss. So, I want to throw, throw him a shout out [Will: For sure.] because he is. He is very connected guy. And first of all, he's been extremely supportive of the podcast and been involved in the ideas and things, but he just has so many connections that he can make almost anything happen within reason. I would say. 

[00:12:38] Will: Again, being from a place like Mississippi. Maybe not a lot of people realize how rural we are, but maybe more so than anywhere else in the world. You know that whole 7 hands of separation between you and somebody, I think it's like two or three here. And so without fail kind of when a topic or an ideas popped up, one of us inevitably or even if we have to defer to Brad has known some someone in that office or in that mayor staff or you know there's always been some type of connection that we were able to utilize so I guess we're fortunate to be in a position like that in a state like this you know where it's kind of. No, it's a small world. After all. Everybody knows everybody. So. So, yeah. I mean, there's been several times, like, the mayor's offices, the mayor of Hattiesburg is actually a fraternity brother of mine. So, I, you know, that was my yeah action. You know, Paul's our #1 Old Miss guy around here. So lined them up with the Mayor of Oxford there. And we do intend to round out the three-university schedule there. We're going to hit Mississippi State for any folks that may be listening to this. We're not leaving you guys out. We're going to get up there and finish the loop but. Yeah, I've been very fortunate. And again, as he mentioned, Brad has been a huge help in doing that, even times where we kind of knew who we were trying to get, but maybe had a little trouble getting in touch with them. Usually, he can pick up the phone and on that first call, whoever we're calling answers just because he's done so much work for so many people over the years.

[00:14:00] Paul: So, and I will add you know this the podcast been very surprised. It has gotten a lot of traction and you know people kind of in the political world in Mississippi, you know talk about it and know about it. So, it was really cool when Congressman Michael Guest actually reached out to actually ask if he could be on it. That was pretty cool. It's not every day at congressman reaches out. 

[00:14:19] Kim: Yeah, that is sounds really cool. It sounds like you have a lot of great guests and I just want to know how do you determine kind of what topics you're going to cover on each episode and what kind of the thought process behind that is? 

[00:14:31] Will: So, and Paul's going to have probably more data-driven and don't know agency centric approach to what kind of their process is my whole thing again not really being from the public media side of things or even the podcast or anything like that. Recognizing that we're it's kind of a niche area, right? If I'm saying that correctly, you're not everybody's getting on their Apple podcasts or whatever and searching for transportation, you know, podcasts and the state of Mississippi, even to make it even, you know, one level down. So, my whole thought has always kind of been somewhere in between, you know, breaking news and not Saturday Night Live, don’t get me wrong. But entertaining, you know, oftentimes we're.  When we get folks on here, we're not really, you know, grilling them or putting their feet to the fire so much, right, because we don't really want that brand of podcast. It's not what we're looking for, but at the same time, if you're not going to ask the hard-hitting type of questions, the things that people are really going to tune in to see what that elected official or whoever, what their answer is, then you kind of you got to have some entertaining aspect of it. You know, so that's kind of been my really only role in topic coverage is like, you know, just trying to maintain that balance.

[00:15:49] Will: You know, I if you listen to a couple of our podcast, you know, there's a recurring question and we hit at the end of every episode about food places and stuff. And like for, for whatever reason that is taken off. I mean, we've had folks text in and saying, hey, make sure you, yeah, ask. And. And we even had folks request that we put the list together and make it clickable. And so that they could, you know, look at the location, click the map and it shows the podcast and the restaurant that was recommended or whatever. So that's kind of been my involvement just somehow finding that happy medium between the tough questions and the entertainment aspect. 

[00:16:27] Paul: Yeah, it's something great that Will has brought. Cause not lie, before he's on the show. It was a little more just kind of dry perhaps and definitely brought a lot of good ideas for kind of like, you know, entertainment, but still kind of within the realm of what we're trying to do. 

[00:16:39] Will: We want to be too silly, right? Yeah,

[00:16:42] Paul:  Absolutely. You got it. You got to hook people somehow. And we do have production meetings and that sort of thing. So, it's we do have some formal kind of planning, which is nice. We take it pretty seriously to get the best product we can get out there.

[00:16:54] Will: A lot of times, especially for going on location, really even just about every episode Honestly. Even whoever we're talking to usually has a district or very least kind of home base area. So, a lot of times we'll look and see, like, do they have projects going on or do we have projects going on in the area, you know, especially we're dealing with the session and legislation.  You know how you do? These folks have bills that we're interested in or following or with the anticipation that they're going to have, you know, some kind of measure that that's going to be really important to us. We want to always kind of tie that transportation aspect into it one way or the other. If it's not the crux of the whole episode, at least, you know, have a good segment in there about projects or policies or something that's affecting the infrastructure world.

[00:17:40] Brian: You touched on the question that you always ask about places to eat. So, I'm going to get into the hard question now if I'm in Jackson.  Where do I need to eat?

[00:17:52] Will: Well, so I would. I would tell you a couple. I think I said this on one episode. I don't know if someone asked us or I can't remember how it was, but you know, there's a couple different things. Couple different places and I feel we took this liberty just being the host is and it's not limiting ourselves to one location but if we're only doing one and you're the Jackson metro I'm going to have to say just a little South of the Jackson Metro maybe 20 minutes is a place called Jerry's Fish House. It looks like a giant igloo. OK, enormous 2 story igloo. It's the best fried catfish in the world. Without a doubt. I think that there's probably several places that would argue that statement, but it's phenomenal that. So, if you're in the mood for kind of a good southern home cooked for our home, home, soul, food type of fried meal, really heavy, you know, you're not doing much work that afternoon afterwards. Jerry's Fish House is phenomenal. What you got Paul?

[00:18:46] Paul: We'll see. So, I love that. You know, you got to go fried food when you're in South. Sorry. Yeah, that's. I mean, that's just that has to happen. And it's a great recommendation. So, I'll go Elvie’s. It's in Jackson it's kind of like an arts district in Belhaven. It's fine dining at night. Definitely more a little more affordable during lunch, but it is just phenomenal. The chef there. I think his name is Hunter Evans. Does a great job. Kind of a New Orleans kind of southern flair to it. And they were just actually  Uh, so they do a great job and definitely go check that out. I also used to work at before I came to MDOT it worked it local 463 as a line cook, which is kind of weird. So go check them out as well. Good people that own that place and good kind of southern food as well

[00:19:35] Will: It seems like every episode that we've asked this question. I also have thought about another place that I would, you know, depending upon where I am. So, there's been no lack of input on places to eat for sure. 

[00:19:46] Brian: I'm glad you mentioned the fried catfish place cause that when I think of eating in Mississippi, that is the number one dish I think of is fried catfish.  If you're ever in Mississippi, check those places out places out. Now what about when you're on the road, I mean, you were in Louisiana.  A. You were you go all over the state, right? So, you get all these different perspectives. Are there any other places that you have lined up to go to in the future or are you looking to expand out to any other areas, not just in the Southeast but maybe elsewhere in the country?

[00:20:20] Paul: We're going to, obviously, Starkville. That's on, that's on tap. It would be nice to get out, to go see some other state DOTS kind of surround Alabama, Tennessee. That would be nice. 

[00:20:31] Will: Yeah. We talked about kind of hitting our neighboring state, [Paul: For sure.] The Arkansas, Tennessee folks.

[00:20:38] Paul:  Want to get that. It would be nice. We're trying to get the Secretary of Transportation. Of course, Pete Buttigieg trying to get him on. Kind of had a lead on that. And that's kind of fallen. I know he's a busy guy. So anyway, like, to get him, that would be fun. It kind of makes sense. So, we'll see you on that. 

[00:20:55] Will: We're definitely the process too. I said the process I am underhandedly trying to convince our leadership and the rest of the team here that we need to go to some type of podcasting conference somewhere to get some you know in depth teachings and some lessons from other folks. They're doing best practices and stuff. I don't know that we necessarily would do a recording from the conference, but that may be the distance traveled that we're looking for.

[00:21:20] Brian: Yeah, I think we're going to have to open up an AASHTO committee on podcasts [Will: Love it.] here, right. Get that going. Get all of us together. Sounds like a plan. You know, earlier in the in the very beginning of this recording I started, I mentioned that you guys won an award. So, I do want to congratulate you and your team Drew Hall at the editor in Katie Hornsby, the Producer for winning the AASHTO 2022 Transcom Skills Award for Audio production, which I guess is the transportation equivalent of winning an Emmy. So, congratulations on that.

[00:21:59] Paul & Will: Thank you.

[00:22:00] Brian: What did winning that award mean to you?

[00:22:02] Paul: Well, like we said, it doesn't just all happen. It's a lot of hard work. I mean, we've put in a ton of effort into it and like you said, everybody here also has a lot of other responsibilities and duties. So, it's just kind of, it's always nice to be recognized for putting your head down. None of us need any recognition, but it's always nice to get that for putting in some work.

[00:22:24] Will:  I'll just add honestly, it was kind of. Winning the award and then I guess in the following Commission meeting afterwards, they did a little presentation and congratulate us and took pictures and they made a Facebook post about it. I didn't realize kind of how many people in the political world, especially actually tuned in and listened to the podcast until the award is then they were all like, you know, texting me saying congratulations and, you know, you guys are famous and all these things, I mean, the Chairman of our House Transportation committee immediately right after the Commission meeting called us and was like, hey, Congrats guys to see y'all.  You know, I didn't even know he was listening. Ohh, so that that's pretty neat that I don't know. It just made us aware that we did have kind of a little following out there and then we're not just kind of making this podcast for ourselves. It's been cool to see that.

[00:23:12] Kim: Yeah, I know I love when we make a podcast and we're just like, did anyone hear it? Like we have data, but then it's also like, is anybody actually listening? So, I definitely can relate to that. But I wanted to ask both of you what has surprised you about making this podcast.

[00:23:29] Will:  This may not be an answer that you get often with that question, but I'll say one thing. So, my background is we kind of mentioned this, you know, the political world, my degrees, communications to public speaking, impromptu speaking, it's kind of my valley work, you know deep dive and being a smart person. I you know, I'm not good at math, so I'll let the details usually to the other people but there's never really been a time, I guess throughout my career and even, you know, my college years and whatnot that I was being recorded every time I was given speech speeches for lack of a better word, doing podcast. So, the growth opportunity I think I, you know, didn't factor that in at all when they asked me to join the team, you know, it's like, sure, it sounds fun, but I really think I have grown, not necessarily just in public speaking, but it just in that conversational, you know, dialogue of making sure you hit topics. And because it's not just having a conversation with somebody. Right. Because you could meander all over the world.  You travel down a rabbit hole of useless information. You still kind of have to be aware of what you want to hit and do. And I know from like my first at we talked about before my first episode. I mean, I think I, you know, basically just looked down at the sheet and asked the questions because I wanted to make sure I was doing everything correct. And so, kind of now as we go through almost trying not to have anything because if I have it, I'm going to look at it and read it. But if I don't, it seems to work better and even again to kind of talking back to the first few episodes.

[00:24:58] Will: I would have to go back and actually watch the podcast after it was produced and out there to see what we talked about because there's I was so focused on making sure I got the questions that we wanted it to hit and the topics across, but I wasn't always actually fully paying attention to what our guest was even saying. So, I mean, I think, you know, maybe a micro appreciation for surprise, but it's been very helpful. I think it's making more cognizant of that thought process outside the podcast too. So, you know, if maintaining a smooth kind of efficient conversation, but also making sure I hit the points that we need to hit. That's that would be the most surprising thing for me. I think that and people actually listen to it. That's, you know, it's just surprising. Yeah.

[00:25:43] Paul: I echo those sentiments. I work in digital, so I'm not a Public Information Officer. I have, never really wanted to kind of put myself out there. So, I would echo what Will say. It has been kind of a growth kind of thing. And I kind of think I'm a bit of a perfectionist. And so, I'm not going to lie, the first few episodes... I think we've really come a long way. You know, it takes time to build kind of chemistry. [Will: Yeah.] with the cohost and stuff and kind of get on the same page. But that's been really nice. And yeah, a lot of people my mom would she'll text me like things that like really like you guys are clicking on all cylinders. So, that's a nice surprise. I don't think either of us ever thought we do a podcast so. 

[00:26:19] Will: No yeah, I had never even occurred to me to do a podcast before personally professionally in any way. Yeah, so this has been, it's been really neat. I mean I I think there's been so many episodes around like I, you know, appreciate you guys letting me be here. I've never acted like this before, but I get really kind of feels like, you know, I know what I'm doing it, which is. Yeah, totally, totally a farce. But, you know, kind of feels like it. [Laughing.]

[00:26:43] Paul: it's been great bringing, we've adopted Will in Public Affairs for sure. [Will: They are very kind.] But yeah, I would say there is no way. It has been surprising how many people listen to it and we've gotten some serious listens on some of these episodes, so that's nice.

[00:26:57] Will: And even on the micro level, there's been oodles of our podcast where truly the guests’ answers have been information that I was not aware of or I mean. And I hate to isolate one episode, but the episode with Michael Watson, our Secretary of State here. I mean, that entire podcast was a learning experience for me. Everything we talked about. I had no previous knowledge of but was super interested in a lot of things that they're doing for the agency and doing for the state through that office. And there's been so many events that like that that have taken place throughout it that have been very surprising. You know, you think you got the guest on and how we're going to entertain the audience and listeners and you find yourself, you know, kind of really just sitting there and listening. Truly, it's taking what they're saying. So that's been really good.

[00:27:44] Brian: Your podcast definitely serves a great public service.  Not just to the people of Mississippi, but anybody who wants to learn more about the inner workings of state government, especially as it relates to transportation and you even cover emergency response.  And things that people need to know, like the traveling public needs to know, and they should have some more appreciation for what everybody that Mississippi DOT does by listening to some of these episodes. I also wanted to mention so my day job is being the AASHTO Accreditation Program Manager and in in that position I've had the opportunity to work with James Williams, who used to be the state materials engineer at the Mississippi DOT, and I have to say James was amazing to work with and in discussions with him, I really got to understand the importance of public service for people at the dot that they're not just working a job, you know, this isn't just a job. This is a service. It's kind of like a call to help people in your state live their best lives through transportation. It's really important

[00:28:57] Brian: It's not just filling potholes and making sure, you know, traffic gets moving along. So, I want to thank you guys for the service you're providing, just like I would thank James. For the service he provided not just to AASHTO, but to Mississippi. And you know, thank you guys for joining us today. I really appreciate the time to talk to you.  And for those of you who are interested, and you should be based on this conversation, The Extra Mile is available anywhere. I found it where you can find podcast as well as Mississippi DOT website where you can find video podcast and see just how they put these things together. I do like the video podcast that you guys do.  You know it's a small set, but it's nice to see how relaxed you are with your guests, and you can kind of see the interplay a little bit more than then you can hear it. So, I do think that adds some value.

[00:29:53] Will: I appreciate that all your kind words there too. Especially the public service aspect of a lot of times our guys and girls out there that are they're doing the work in the front, first responders to the to the fullest of that term. You know oftentimes they're out there before law enforcement. You know they have to clear the path for a lot of those things and mention that we're in the middle of hurricane season. You know, so getting that out is definitely a passion of ours. And getting that appreciation for those folks out there that are really, you know, the frontline workers doing the work. Thank. Thank you for that.

[00:30:27] Paul: Thanks for having us on. It's to great to speak with you both. 

[00:30:28] Will: Yeah, very much appreciated. Enjoyed it too.

[00:30:30] Paul:  Definitely.

[00:30:31] Brian: Alright, well, thanks again, Kim. Anything else?

[00:30:34] Kim: I don't think so. Thank you very much for being our guest, Paul and  Will. And is there anything that we didn't ask you? I mean this is your first-time being guests on a podcast. So, is there something that we should have asked that maybe we didn't?

[00:30:47] Will: Ohh I got one. I'm not sure exactly where you both are located, but just in the event that we happen to travel to your home areas, where do we supposed to stop and eat? Where’s the hot spot?

[00:30:58] Paul: That's a good one.

[00:30:59] Brian: Well, I think Kim's got to answer that one because, so our office is in Frederick, MD, and she actually lives in Frederick, MD. I live about an hour away from it.

[00:31:08] Kim: OK and now this is it depends on what time of day there's so many different options here. It depends on what time of day, what you're in the mood for. I'm going to say currently my favorite place in downtown Frederick is Isabella’s and it's a Spanish tapas place. But I go there for breakfast, so they go on the weekends. They have breakfast. And so, I just get my, you know, the standard breakfast or the fancy breakfast or whatever. So that's currently my favorite place, but I'm not going to single out just that there's so many other good restaurants. And breweries and things like that and the area. But right now, my personal favorite is Isabella's. 

[00:31:47] Will: I love that answer I'm the Ron Swanson opinion there. You know, you could eat breakfast every meal would be totally fine. 

[00:31:54] Kim: Yes, I mean, I wish we had a, you know, a JJ's diner kind of vibe from Parks and Rec. I wish. I wish Frederick had that place because I would live there as well. So.

[00:32:04] Brian: Yeah. And if you ever find yourself in Falls Church, VA. There is a place that I've been going lately called Dogwood Tavern that I like because my kids will actually eat it and I always find something good and they usually have a good rotation of micro brews, so that's a good one.  But most of the time, you know, with little kids. I don't know if either of you have little kids, but my diet consists of leftover pizza and whatever chicken Nuggets are left over from what they didn't finish, so there's tons of options for that too. But I think they're the options that are available to everyone, especially in your region.

[00:32:40] Will: Two great venues. We have to check out. See, now I got to  make planned to come to our podcast. And both of these locations so we can visit these sites.

[00:32:47] Brian: You know for the inaugural meeting of the AASHTO Podcast Committee, I think we should probably have that somewhere around the Washington, DC area. So, they'll be an opportunity to visit both of those locations, I think.

[00:33:00] Will: I love it. I love it when a plan comes together for sure.

[00:33:03] Kim: Thanks again for being on the podcast. You two.

[00:33:05] Will & Paul: Thank you for having us for sure.

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