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Phil Levine talks Florida places, characters in ‘non-political’ SiriusXM ‘real Florida’ show

Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, a potential Democratic challenger for governor in the 2018 election, premiered his “real Florida” show “A Day in the Sun” on a SiriusXM satellite radio channel Tuesday night with interviews of innovative and offbeat Floridians.

The question arises, was anybody listening to the internationally-broadcast show that’s on a high-up channel; and might Levine milk any name recognition or other advantage from a show that had him travel, by bus, interviewing Floridians, from Miami to Pensacola last month?

Levine insists the show is not about politics.

Well, maybe a little bit of politics.

In Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop and Cafe in Miami’s Midtown, Levine’s interview with owner Derek Kaplan, a former fireman who pursued his dream of baking key lime pie for a living, leads to a little talk about challenges facing a small business owner, and the importance of an entrepreneur offering benefits to his employees.

In the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Levine and owner Felipe Valls and his daughter Nicole Valls chat Cuba politics, changing Cuban-American politics, and Cuban-American impact on Florida, and food, as Levine shows off his Spanish and love of Cuban cuisine.

As Levine talks with exotic plant grower and python hunter Dusty “Wildman” Crum, and later with Miccosukee Tribe member and airboat operator Betty Osceola in the Everglades, the conversations roam conservation and pollution, water issues, invasive species, tribal rights, and even sea level rise.

But, mostly, the show is about characters and places that make up Florida’s tapestry. Levine not only conducts the interviews, but narrates the intros and wrap-ups of the episodes, and of each interview segment within it, raising his own curiosities, and lavishing love on Florida.

Wealthy from his businesses and investments that include support companies for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Levine’s non-candidacy has nonetheless raised more than $4 million in his political committee, All About Florida, including $2.3 million of his own money.

The Democrats already in the race, Winter Park developer Chris King, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and probably also the Republicans starting with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, may be keeping their ears on him.

A Day in the Sun’s second episode will cover Tampa Bay and the lower Gulf Coast, at 6 p.m. next Tuesday on SiriusXM Channel 121, called Sirius Insight.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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