#MediaMonday – Rachel Leingang

We’ve been publishing #MediaMonday profiles almost since the beginning of when we started #HMATime.  Over the years, we’ve gotten recommendations and suggestions from PR colleagues and other reporters of media people we should cover.  I was thrilled when Rachel reached out to introduce herself and the newsletter she launched with Hank Stephenson.

Tell us about Arizona Agenda

The Arizona Agenda is a Substack newsletter all about Arizona politics and government. We focus a lot on state politics, but we dip into school boards, city councils and federal stuff at times, too. We work to make political news more accessible through a daily rundown of stories each morning Monday through Thursday, then a reported deep-dive of some kind on Fridays. We were one of a dozen local publications around the world that was awarded some funding by Substack for one year, so we’ve been working to build a subscriber base before that year ends in August.

We are interested in stories about politics, policy and government, and the people behind all of it. We also like to highlight the effects of policies or laws and the people they directly affect. And we enjoy spinning a weird tale here and there as well.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Mandan, N.D., a small-ish town right next to North Dakota’s capital of Bismarck (the Missouri River divides the two towns). In one of the funnest assignments I’ve had, I got to write about how easy it is to find relatives at Mesa, Ariz.’s annual North Dakota picnic in early 2020.

I went to college at Minnesota State University-Moorhead, then worked for Americorps for a year in Pullman, Wash. I came to Phoenix for grad school at ASU in 2012. After my master’s, I spent some time working at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota, then came back to Arizona to work at the Arizona Capitol Times, then the Arizona Republic, before starting the Arizona Agenda.

My husband is from Arizona, and I’ve been here almost 10 years now — I definitely don’t miss the weather up north, but I miss my family all the time since they’re mostly still in the upper Midwest. We live in Phoenix and have two cats, Jasper and Thumbs.

Favorite type of music?

I’m all over the place, but generally like indie, pop, and classic rock. I have a master playlist on Spotify that I often put on that has hundreds of songs that I love, from Fleetwood Mac to Jenny Lewis to the Avett Brothers to Talking Heads. And I have Amazon Music only so I can listen to Garth Brooks, whose catalog is only on that platform.

Favorite color?

I struggle with favorites in general, so these questions are getting difficult! I feel drawn to blues and greens a lot, but really like patterns as well, like florals.

Favorite TV shows or movies?

HBO basically doesn’t miss: I think Six Feet Under was one of the best shows ever, Starstruck is an incredible rom-com series, just finished watching The Sopranos. Currently watching Yellowstone and Outlander. Loved Ted Lasso because of its heart. For movies, if it’s a rom-com, I will absolutely watch it, no questions asked.

Favorite local restaurants or other haunts?

I have a whole rotation of local businesses that I go to whenever I want to feel a sense of place, which can be hard in Phoenix. I’m a longtime fan of local shops Strawberry Hedgehog, Changing Hands, Frances, Bunky Boutique, and Urbana. The wine club at Hidden Track is the best $25 you’ll spend every month. We have so many excellent restaurants in Phoenix that it’s hard to narrow down, so I’ll pick one in my neighborhood and two I recently tried for the first time: Cocina Madrigal is low-key and delicious, and Restaurant Progress and Pa’La have incredible tasting menus.

Least favorite food?

Cinnamon. It’s somehow in everything and always seems to overpower. It can be done well, but it’s usually too dominant.

Three things readers would be surprised to know about you?

I used to be interesting! I once officiated a wedding for people I met on Craigslist (I got ordained at one of those online churches). I got detained at a jail in Peru for half a day (a bus I was traveling on had drugs in suitcases underneath – not mine). I hadn’t really eaten meat from a grocery store until I went to college (my uncle runs the family farm, and my family butchered seasonally to supply our own meat).

Contact Email: rachel@arizonaagenda.com

Social media handles: @rachelleingang

Written by
at Jun 6, 2022

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