Through a series of very fortunate events, I ended up with the perfect job for me. In addition to writing these regular Radical Rants here on HighTimes.com and other articles for 420-friendly websites and publications, I host a live weekday talk radio podcast all about the marijuana law reform movement called “The Russ Belville Show.”
The show grew out of the podcasting work I did for NORML from 2009-2012. My short background in recording was in live radio, however, so I quickly turned the pre-recorded podcast into a live radio show that I then recorded for the podcast. Thus, “NORML SHOW LIVE” was born.
Other marijuana activists around the country were also producing podcasts, which led me to the idea of creating The NORML Network. In my vision, it was to be a broadcasting hub for NORML chapters to produce informative podcasts about their state’s battle to legalize, and from that network the chapters nationwide could learn from and educate one another.
In 2012, my employment with NORML ended (because sometimes when I’m right and angry, I direct that anger in a detrimental way). We were just six months away from the historic passage of marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado, and my home state of Oregon had legalization on the ballot as well. After four years of diligent work to build my knowledge, my brand and my show, I had just screwed up royally and I would hate to be sitting on the sidelines as history unfolded.
So, I didn’t. I just kept producing my show as if I was still getting a paycheck to do so. What was I going to do, go to work at 7-Eleven? After building myself a Google marijuana footprint the size of a Sasquatch’s and building up more THC in my system than could ever pass a piss test, I was “all in” on this marijuana media thing.
Fortunately, good friends stepped up to help. First, there was Travis Maurer, the Missouri émigré, who helped broker Oregon’s successful 2014 legalization initiative. He put up the funds necessary for me to survive for three months as “National Cannabis Radio”.
That came to an end when my now-fishing-buddy and “Weed Country” star Mike Boutin angrily approached me at the Cannabis Cup and slapped down his show’s business card for “Cannabis Nation Radio.” I hadn’t named the network, I explained, and had no idea he’d been doing a similarly-named show, but out of respect, I decided that it was time for a name change.
I briefly ran the network as “PotNet.us” until finally settling in on “420RADIO.org.” With that network, I returned to my vision of providing a broadcast authority for marijuana law reform podcasts.
But there was a huge problem; namely, there’s only one of me. I soon found that there was no way I had the skills, time or resources to build 420RADIO into what I imagined it could be.
Still, I persevered as best as I could.
Over the past three years, I scraped and begged and worked to get a few sponsors so that I could make it to the Cannabis Cups, the expos and the conferences. I kept producing a two-hour show every weekday, now numbering over 670 episodes. And the whole time, I kept thinking that if I just kept at it, eventually someone else is going to share my vision and maybe they’ll bring me along within it.
Now, I’m excited to reveal that my wish has come true.
This year at a couple of events I was approached by the team from CannabisRadio.com. As they described how they envisioned their network, it felt like they had been wiretapping my brain. Then as they told me the lineup of hosts they had already signed—NORML’s Dr. Mitch Earleywine, Seattle Hempfest’s Vivian McPeak, Veganic grow guru Kyle Kushman, Cannabis Nurse Heather, “Weeds”-inspiration Dr. Dina—I knew they were serious about their coverage of the world of cannabis. I signed on to be their latest host.
And boy, what a refreshing difference having a professional team makes! This week I streamed live from the SW Cannabis Conference in Phoenix for CannabisRadio.com. When I did this under 420RADIO, I was always so swamped trying to do it all that I may have gotten 10 to 12 interviews booked over a two-day expo.
With CannabisRadio.com handling the logistics, I recorded 52 interviews with cannabusiness vendors and activist speakers.
So for you loyal readers and listeners who have followed me from NORML through 420RADIO, thank you. Now I hope you’ll follow me over to CannabisRadio.com, where our podcasts and live coverage get wider exposure through iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn, Spreaker and iHeartRadio. This is only the beginning and I promise you that big things are coming for “The Russ Belville Show” and big names are going to be coming onboard at CannabisRadio.com in 2016.
My next live coverage will be this Tuesday, November 3 from Columbus, Ohio, for my fourth consecutive Marijuana Election Night Special from a state voting on legalization. In 2010, I brought you live coverage from Oaksterdam for Prop 19. In 2012, I was in Seattle and had Jennifer Alexander covering live from Portland and Karri Gallaugher live from Denver as those votes came in. In 2014, I covered the nation’s 100+ state and local marijuana votes from Portland. I hope you’ll join me on CannabisRadio.com.