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Today’s Guest: Sue Laris

Hello Enthusiasts –

If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice I didn’t upload a new episode last week.  Entirely unintentional — with all these days running together, it just escaped me.  Quarantine Brain.

Anyway … as I’ve been listening to these with fresh ears as they go out into the world, it dawns on me that if you don’t already know my guest, the beginning of these podcast episodes may seem a bit slow.  Because we start at the very beginning, and if you don’t know much about the person you are listening to, you may be less interested in where they were born, where they grew up, etc.

But I encourage you to stick with it because invariably, their story loops back around to the beginning. Their beginnings. The stories you hear in the first few minutes end up shaping the rest of the story, and almost invariably relate to the more ‘well known’ parts of their journey.

And this week’s guest has such an interesting, perhaps unexpected story that does just that.  Anybody who spends any time in Downtown LA has almost certainly picked up a copy of the Downtown News.  It’s simply part of the fabric of Downtown, charting openings, closings, political shenanigans, and all the hubbub and swirl that make Downtown.  And having a newspaper that solely serves today’s Downtown, makes all sorts of sense – we need a media outlet whose sole purpose is to chronicle everything going on in our vibrant, resurgent center.

But … Sue Laris founded the Downtown News in 1972.  1972!   When Downtown was just a little bit different.  To put it mildly.  I’m fairly sure buildings still couldn’t be taller than City Hall.  The Convention Center had opened just one year earlier.  Tom Bradley wasn’t Mayor yet.  The movie Chinatown was two years from being released.  The Bonaventure wouldn’t open for another three years.  If anybody lived in Downtown, I can’t find evidence of it.  And let’s not forget that female entrepreneurs weren’t exactly common in the early 70s.

So, how did she do it?  Why did she do it?  And then how did she go on to run it for over 40 years?  How did she keep it afloat through all the ups and downs of L.A. in general and Downtown in particular? And, to my earlier point, how does all this relate back to the town of Ferndale, just south of Eureka?

Sue’s story is fascinating.  I hope you like it.


As always, you can listen right on this website, or better yet, subscribe on Apple podcasts by clicking here.  And if you do subscribe, please give it 5 stars (whether you like it or not – just do it), and if you’re feeling inclined, write a review.  It helps with the algorithms.  And it’s also up on iHeart, Spotify, and generally wherever you get your podcasts…