The 1980s were a formative time for Will Padilla. The founder and co-host of the 1980s Now podcast likens the decade to the European Renaissance from centuries ago.
“Unlike decades since and many decades prior, it has had a bigger influence on what continued after it, in terms of media, than any other,” Padilla says. “There was such an influx of new tech and globalization that burst these new forms of music and movies that continue today.”
You’ll hear all about those movies, music releases and more in 1980s Now, which Padilla has hosted with Kat O’Connor and Jon Reddick since 2019. What started as a show with dozens of listeners in Northeast Ohio has become a popular podcast with thousands of unique listeners from around the world, says Padilla.
Now, more than 180 episodes in, the podcast has brought on a range of guests: a mix of modern authors and analysts with a fondness for the ‘80s, along with some ‘80s stars themselves.
The podcast has featured interviews with, for example, “Tell It To My Heart” singer Taylor Dayne, ‘80s band Expose, Top Gun composer Harold Faltermeyer, Commando star Vernon Wells, Fraggle Rock puppeteer John Tartaglia and Toy Soldiers star Keith Coogan.
Podcast interviews span the performers’ work and delve into their personal lives. The interviews go beyond celebrating '80s culture, and also look at the decade's cultural relevance today.
“The most exciting moments I’ve had are being able to speak to folks I’ve long admired and have them tell me things they’ve said they haven’t been asked before, or they hadn’t shared with anyone,” Padilla says. “To be able to share those seemingly intimate moments with these people is very exciting.”
Padilla has lived in Medina since 2014, and in Ohio since 2002. He grew up in Jersey City and lived in New York City for many of his young adult years, working as an actor and later as a composer.
When the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks occurred in the city, Padilla shifted gears.
“The world changed. That area changed, and New York City changed. Now the theater district was being patrolled by police officers with semi-automatic weapons,” Padilla says. “It felt like the world would never return to normal. It was at that point that I moved to Ohio, to Cleveland.”
Padilla’s performance background lent itself well to podcasting, and he could fit the project in around his family life and his full-time job as an attorney at an insurance company.
Padilla says he hopes to get 1980s Now in front of more listeners, but also to continue hosting robust conversations about his favorite decade.
“I get torn between this notion of creating art for art’s sake and still wanting to actually have a growing audience,” Padilla says. “My hope for the podcast is that it becomes a beloved and trusted source for both fans of 1980s pop culture and the artists who created it."
Listen to 1980s Now wherever you find podcasts, and find more details about the show at 1980snow.com.
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