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autowriters spotlight

Vogelheim Winner of Dean Batchelor Podcast of the Year

Motor Trend Audio’s podcast host Charlie Vogelheim, who along with partner Shawn Myers just won the Dean Batchelor Podcast of The Year, is not your ordinary auto journalist. He boasts no skinned knuckles or ingrained grease from a lifetime of “wrenching” cars. Nor did he follow the journalism route of years past when an editor would ask, a young reporter “Can you drive a car?” If the answer was “Yes,” he’d say “Good you’re our auto writer.” Or like those selling newspaper ad space to car dealers and manufacturers who would become “two-hatters” by pasting wire copy and press releases between the ads that paid their wages.

Autowriters Spotlight: Charlie Vogelheim

Vogelheim got into autos after several years as a bush pilot following his graduation from Gonzaga University. When publisher Bob Kelley began to expand his “Blue Book” (as it was known) beyond a used car guidebook and began dabbling in electronic media. Bob needed help to grow the editorial team.

The affable Vogelheim became Kelley’s apprentice in 1985, advancing to executive editor while learning the business of auto financing, leasing and remarketing. The book expanded from covering new cars and seven years of used cars to covering all post WWII cars. During his time at KBB, as it became known, Vogelheim helped it move into the computer age and then onto the internet to become a national resource providing not just numerical data but editorial content and photos. KBB content fueled Bloomberg’s Intra-Network and later Microsoft’s Car Point, along with many other subscribers to its services. It required not only data but also knowledge of all new and upcoming models. In that capacity Charlie attended new car introductions and auto shows and joined IMPA West, which shortly thereafter became the new Motor Press Guild, MPG. He found associating with auto journalists enlightening and though he could not “bench race with them” he enjoyed their various perspectives on the industry and their camaraderie.

At that point, he says, “I was certainly better characterized as an analyst rather than journalist. Though my title was editor and we published a book, it was filled with numbers. My editorial outlet grew to include verbal and visual presentations as I took on the role as company spokesman and conference speaker providing insight to the values we established.”

His “gift of gab” brought numerous invitations to speak on the car business that, in turn, required him to really know the new cars, used cars, fleets, leasing, remarketing and auction businesses. While with Kelley he began serving a 7 year stint as an on air correspondent for Car and Driver Radio during which time it became obvious that he was a talker, not a typer.

After 20 years with Kelley, Vogelheim was recruited by Dave Power, the head man at J.D. Power and assigned primary responsibility for the company’s “International Roundtable.” That job put him in touch with China’s burgeoning auto industry and as a company spokesman, he took on the role of interviewee on various broadcast and cable stations.

When the opportunity came a year ago to help revive the Motor Trend radio show he took it with the understanding it would become a podcast because he felt broadcast radio was still in turmoil while podcasts were beginning to flourish and a better quality show can be produced and heard at the listeners convenience.

He creates all the content and decides who to interview and what to talk about. He believes almost everyone has a car story: i.e. their first, their favorite, their dream car and that podcast interviews give him the time to develop those stories. The conversations are digitally recorded on location. He then edits and reviews the content with co-host Shawn Meyers who is an automotive enthusiast and “techie”. Shawn adds additional commentary and then engineers and posts the episodes. They can be heard through iTunes, Internet Radio and the Motor Trend website.