As traveling trends started to evolve at the onset of COVID-19, the Treasure Coast’s tourism offices realized they needed creative ways to market the region.
So they told visitors not to come here.
The “Don’t Come Here” podcast debuted in late September 2021, its 14 monthly episodes highlighting the region’s drinking spots, professional sports and local businesses. Each episode streamed on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Spotify, accompanied by a YouTube video of the 25-35 minute conversation with local experts.
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Now a second season has launched, with the first episode released Nov. 1, focusing on the Treasure Coast’s fine-dining scene. The goal of the podcast’s ironic name was to garner listeners in a nontraditional way, said Ian Centrone, Martin County tourism manager.
“The idea was this snarky, tongue-in-cheek approach to help us stand out from the competition,” Centrone said. “We thought that it would be effective in capturing people’s attention in a really crowded podcasting space.”
The new season is being hosted by host Daniel “Dano” Russo, a local radio personality with more than 25 years experience, best-known for shows such as “The Love Doctors,” “On Call with Dano and Maegan” and “Dano and Nutter Afternoons.”
After parting ways in April with iHeartMedia, which produced those shows, Russo saw the casting call for the podcast and immediately was drawn to the title and what it represented, he said.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s interesting. Somebody that believes in deprecation like I did and knows that it works,’” Russo said. “I felt that chemistry again.”
In Season 2’s first episode, Russo spoke about the aspects of a quality dining experience with Kyle Greene, owner of Kyle G’s Prime Seafood and Steaks on Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County; and with food blogger Thomspans Miller, who’s known as “The Treasure Coast Foodie.”
In the video version, a segment shows Russo eating at the Gafford restaurant in downtown Stuart, the first shot zooming in on his stained, white button-down from the first course, before the camera closes in on the real stars: the meatloaf and pork chops.
“My wife says, ‘I can’t take you anywhere.’ I said, ‘What are you talking about, man?’,” Russo said in the video. “I have a tendency to spill stuff.”
As Russo spearheads ideas for future episodes, he said he’s looking forward to highlighting shipwrecks along the region’s coastline, such as the U.S.S. Rspannkin that was sunk as an artificial reef in July 1988 about 5½ miles off the St. Lucie Inlet.
Two episodes are recorded every-other month at 8th Avenue Studios in Port St. Lucie, according to studio owner Bryan Smith. It takes three to four hours to produce one episode.
“Podcasting has become such a huge part of our lives, and because of that, so many people are wanting to do podcasts now,” Smith said. “It’s really cool to have an entity that’s willing to invest in a higher production value and invest in a host with a name so it really is something that is enjoyable to listen to.”
The first season cost about $12,600 to produce, or about $900 an episode, Centrone said. The cost is divided among Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties’ respective tourism budgets.
As of late November, there had been 2,834 audio downloads of the podcast, or an average of 188 per episode, Centrone said. On YouTube, there were 5,308 views, or an average of 350 views per episode.
The latest fine-dining episode has garnered more than 1,600 views on YouTube.
Russo enjoys the multimedia aspect, he said, and compares the process to creating a painting.
“When I take behind a microphone, when I take to the air, it’s a Bob Ross,” Russo said, referring to the famous painter. “We’re going to start with the little bird in the sky here, then we’re going to paint a mountain in the background … I love all that.”