The Right Call

Police Chief’s Voice is a Balm in Troubled Times

Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake. Portrait by Will Crooks.

“I have a face for radio,” jokes Hendersonville Police Chief Herbert Blake, whose distinctive, resonant voice is attracting an increasing number of listeners. Blake has been chief for 12 years, and on the air with “On Duty” since he launched his thoughtful podcasts in December 2018. The monthly shows have addressed broad public issues ranging from recognizing coronavirus scams to tips on navigating the roundabouts installed in Hendersonville. In this Q&A, Chief Blake talks about how “On Duty” goes from idea to broadcast. 

Are you a podcast listener?

I am. I leaned to leadership and spiritual podcasts and after listening a couple of years, I thought it might be something I could do to provide community awareness and crime-prevention tips. A couple years ago, the police department created a five-year strategic plan, and one of my goals was to provide better communication and connection with our community. A podcast seemed a good way to do that.  

How did you get started?

I found an application online that I liked and watched a lot of YouTube videos made by people nice enough to provide free tutorials. I practiced for several months and finally decided to go ahead and launch. The first one was in December 2018 about holiday shopping awareness and safety. It was terrible! But I’ve gotten better over the year-and-a-half I’ve been doing it. 

What goes into preparing a podcast?

Research. Lots and lots of research. If I was just out there talking politics and trying to get people worked up about something, that’s all emotion. But if you want to give people accurate information about real issues, you have to be able to back it up. There’s people out there dying to prove you wrong. When I write the script, I keep it to under five minutes, because that’s about how long my attention span is for something like this.

What is the recording process like?

At first I tried to do it from the office, but there were too many distractions and it was too noisy, so now I do it from my man cave in my house, usually when I’m home alone or my wife is asleep upstairs. I read the script I’ve written from the computer screen. I seldom get something I like in less than ten takes, and then I work on it and edit it until I’m happy enough with it to put it out there.  It takes a lot of time, which is why I just do one a month.

Who is listening to the podcast?

I’ve done some research and people are listening from all over. Not just Hendersonville, Asheville, and Fletcher, but around the state and the country. I’m not trying to be a podcast star; it’s just something I enjoy doing, and I think might be helpful. I don’t like the sound of my voice, but other people seem to. It’s nice that they give me five minutes of their time.

How do your children feel about it?

They think it’s cool. My daughter says I should branch out to making audiobooks, but I think I’ll stick with the podcast and police work.

For Chief Herbert Blake’s current and recent podcasts, including his June 15 podcast on the death of George Floyd and related events, see buzzsprout.com/221025.

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