The past is never dead, novelist William Faulkner once wrote.
Brandon Seale believes the past is more alive in San Antonio than any other U.S. city. The oil-and-gas-industry-executive-turned-history-buff explored some of the untold and misunderstood tales of the city’s past in his podcast A New History of Old San Antonio, published by the Rivard Report.
Meanwhile, fellow podcaster Brantley Hightower drew from the stories of contemporary San Antonio in his audio show The Works.
But both storytellers’ interests lie in unearthing the “rich, long, complicated history that is San Antonio,” said Hightower, an architect.
“San Antonio is a city where the past really still is alive,” Seale said. “Very few cities, at least in the United States, can claim the same, continuous, unbroken connection to their past that San Antonio can.”
Seale and Hightower aim to connect listeners with the city’s stories through podcasting. In partnership with the Rivard Report, the storytellers will launch the next iterations of podcasts on Monday.
Seale will build on his endeavor to shed light on San Antonio’s past with Finding Medina, a retelling of the largest battle in Texas history, the 1813 Battle of Medina. More than 1,000 men composed of Tejanos, Anglos, and Native Americans fought against Spanish forces in the battle but were defeated and most killed. However, it served as an important prologue to the coming Mexican War of Independence, Seale said.
Despite its significance, however, historians and archaeologists alike have been unable to find the exact location of the battlefield, Seale said. The show will venture to find the true site of the Medina battlefield.
Leaning on primary sources, such as Spanish soldier Joaquín de Arredondo’s report from the battlefield, Seale and his collaborators will use Google Earth to match the descriptions from the first-hand accounts with the aerial images online. Seale said the team will employ Lidar laser sensors to survey the soil. His researchers also will analyze metal artifacts using an X-ray fluorescent spectrometer.
In addition, listeners are encouraged to participate in crowdsourcing information, Seale said.
“I don’t want to give up the suspense,” he said. “We’ve come as close as anyone to finding the battlefield. We’ll reveal where we think it is.”
Episodes of Finding Medina will be released biweekly on podcasting platforms iTunes and Stitcher. As copyrights allow, Seale will make primary sources available here on the Rivard Report.
Hightower, founder of architecture firm HiWorks, has written about the built environment for various trade publications, freelanced for journalism outlets including this one, and written a book about Texas courthouses.
However, he found podcasting helps more authentically tell stories through the voices of the characters that create them. In The Works, Hightower highlighted well-known Texas structures and revealed the deeper narrative behind them.
“One thing I’ve discovered about living in San Antonio is every place and every person you meet has a story,” Hightower said. “If not on the surface, what we’re hoping to do with the Storybook is tell some of the stories that are maybe just beneath the surface.”
In producing his last podcast series, he realized the people who inhabited those places were even more fascinating than the structures.
“I’m always going to think about the built environment,” Hightower said. “But there is more of San Antonio than there are buildings, so I’m hoping to explore those things as well.”
Each episode a different tale, Hightower’s new podcast San Antonio Storybook will recount stories listeners probably haven’t heard before – about some of the people and places that are often written and spoken about but not always understood.
The monthly series will kick off Monday with an examination into a sound, emanating from the nearby Fort Sam Houston, Hightower hears outside his house every morning before he begins his day. Find the show on iTunes and other podcasting platforms.