Scott Ball / Rivard Report
Brandon Seale isn't a historian by trade. The president of Howard Energy México spends his working hours coordinating binational projects that transcend the U.S.-Mexico border, learning and sharing stories of the region’s history during his time off.
Seale, an energy executive as well as a published author and podcast producer, said he created his second podcast series, A New History of Old San Antonio, "to cover the history of San Antonio from its founding 300 years ago until the arrival of the railroad 150 or so years later."
He released the series earlier this year, and for the next 22 weeks, the Rivard Report will host Seale's episodes every Saturday.
"We want to make the Rivard Report a destination not only for our excellent journalism, but also to feature unique community voices – and San Antonio has a lot of those," said Rivard Report Editor-in-Chief Beth Frerking.
"We're glad to have Brandon's podcast series as one of the first of those. We hope it engages an audience interested in the city's history and its future, and that it prompts other San Antonians with interesting stories to think about sharing them with our readers and listeners."
In a conversation with the Rivard Report, Seale, 36, described one of his podcast's purposes as a personal pursuit to more deeply understand San Antonio's identity. Despite living here since 1985 and being a self-described booster for the city ever since, he said many people struggle to pinpoint what distinguishes San Antonio in a state full of metropolitan counterparts.
"Houston has its energy business, Austin has its weirdness, and Dallas has its shopping," Seale said. "[San Antonio] can seem kind of unremarkable ... on the surface. [But] if you go back and you try and look at it with the eyes of the people that founded the city – the first San Antonians – you see something remarkably different."
Seale said he took a two- to three-year dive into centuries worth of history that shaped the city. In his episodes he emerges with detailed accounts of events like the founding of San Antonio, the explorers and native peoples who occupied the city throughout history, and notoriously bloody conflicts like the Battle of Medina.
He used both English and Spanish primary sources in his research, employing his bilingualism to create a more comprehensive understanding of the history by examining it through different national contexts. Throughout the podcast, historical events like the Texas Revolution of 1835 are viewed through the lenses of both American and Mexican history.
"The truth is that it's usually told as a part of American history, but that's just really not accurate," Seale said. "What all of those versions leave out is the actual San Antonio version of events. What were San Antonians thinking at the time, and what do their accounts say?"
As the city celebrates its three-centuries-long history through the Tricentennial and begins new debates over the future of monumental sites like the Alamo, Seale points out that San Antonio remains one of the few American cities with a "continuous and unbroken" tie to its past.
Seale hopes the podcast will provide San Antonians with an opportunity to relate to their city, and explore what he describes as an identity as the continent's largest border town.
"The best way, the only way, to truly honor the past and the men and women who made our city what it is today is for each of us to find a way to relate to their story," Seale says at the end of the series, "to embrace it for all its blemishes and to wear it like armor against whatever new challenges may come our way."