Like many good ideas, this one first percolated late at night and kept brewing into the early morning hours.
Four friends – Ted Emmett, Dustin Moore, Kevin Walsh, and Ryan Lund were looking for a way to pass the time during the cold, dark Red Deer winter on top of the COVID-19 pandemic and they found some solace in an idea. Or they found the bottom of a glass.
“It started out as the four of us, just wanting to do something fun. We were about to go into more restrictions,” said Emmett, who helped get the whole group on board.
“The four of us sit around at the bar, we have a great time talking and obviously carry some good conversation. We thought let’s do this, it’ll be fun for our friends to listen to, some other people might catch on.”
They wanted to talk about their city and wanted to do it as if it was another night around the table with friends, arguing and laughing, agreeing and disagreeing.
That’s the essence of how the “Oh Deer Podcast” was born last November – which now has more than 10,000 listens over 10 episodes and on top of that, it’s turned into a driving force for community-minded initiatives in the last six months.
Their merchandise line that launched in April was specifically designed to give back and help create a charity fund and their Burger of the Month initiative at Cilantro and Chive raised $1,650 for SuperHEROS Hockey, a program designed to bring hockey to youth with cognitive and physical disabilities.
“We always talked on the podcast about being able to donate back at some point to different causes,” Moore said, adding many central Alberta businesses want to give back and the group wants to be an avenue for that.
Emmett added the group hopes to host a big event when the COVID-19 restrictions allow, to boost their charity fund and help bring more awareness to other community initiatives.
“Whether we’re giving back or highlighting a lot of these organizations – really any way we can to raise awareness, raise some funds. When things open up, we want to do something big at Bo’s,” he said.
“To keep padding our charity fund, just for all the people we come across to be able to not only raise awareness for their cause but donate as well. That’s been a big goal.”
They hope that good will happen soon as the show continues to gain momentum – which has helped them support local businesses through partnerships.
“It’s cool to see. The pandemic sort of helped and gave us a head start on building up our following,” said Lund.
And while it may have started out as a simple way to keep themselves entertained, it’s grown into a project much bigger than the individuals who started it.
If they can raise the profile of the city, advocate for those in the community, and raise awareness, all while having a good time with a few buddies – that’s basically the dream.
“We all love Red Deer and personally, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” said Walsh.
“It’s kind of a hidden gem I think… by us being able to give back to the community, it just makes the community better as a whole. Why wouldn’t we want to do that?
“We’re all lucky, we have time and good jobs and we’re able to give back and we also have the time to raise awareness and volunteer our time. At the end of the day, it makes for a better city and better region.”