300 episodes for Philly’s go-to music outlet

Photo by Steve Harner

Dan Drago is still hitting all the right notes and approaching another recording milestone.

The South Philadelphia resident, who created the 25 O’Clock music podcast, will release his 300th episode in January, continuing his streak that he believes is the longest running music podcast in music-rich Philadelphia. 

“No one is more surprised by this than I am,” said Drago, who hosts and produces the podcast. “You start something at your kitchen table, and the next thing you know, nine years have passed and you’re still going strong.”

The 25 O’Clock podcast’s 300th episode is set to air on Jan. 24, just two and a half years after reaching No. 200. Episode No. 1 started at Drago’s kitchen table at his former residence above Ippolito’s Market at the corner of 13th and Dickinson streets in 2014. He had moved to Philadelphia and played in various shows as a musician. Willing to give up the performances but not the music industry, Drago had the idea to start a podcast.

“I still wanted to be a part of the Philadelphia music community,” said Drago, who now lives in Girard Estates. “So I thought, ‘Why not interview my friends?’ ”

Drago’s show gained fame, respect and a bunch of listeners, many of whom were Philadelphia artists and musicians. Those artists began to reach out to be on the show. 

“I never could have foreseen that,” Drago said. “I started getting emails from artists that I listened to and admired. It was wild. I thought, ‘Wow, they’re treating me like I’m real, I’m just a guy in a basement.’ ’’

Recent guests include Kevin Hanson (The Fractals, Huffamoose), Charlie Hall (The War On Drugs), Cosmo Baker (international DJ), Suzanne Sheer, Ang Bocca, John Faye (The Caulfields, IKE), Dave Hause (The Loved Ones, Paint It Black, Dave Hause and the Mermaid) and young Philadelphia artists like Moustapha Noumbissi and Julia Pratt.

“I’ve gotten to talk to folks I really dig,” Drago remarks. “Everyone has a story, everyone likes talking about music, and I like talking to people about music and life. It’s a perfect fit.”

25 O’Clock became the go-to music outlet to share stories for both rising artists and established mainstays.

“There aren’t too many outlets for artists to really talk about themselves,” Drago said. “We consume little bits of media all the time, but you really can’t encapsulate an artist or their story in a brief social media post or a 30-second video. I wanted artists, especially ones who weren’t known widely, to have the opportunity to really talk about who they are, why they do what they do, all of that.”

While those on the stage get the most recognition, Drago also digs deep on the people behind the scenes.

He has featured guests such as Helen Leicht and John Vettese of WXPN, Jesse Lundy (Point Entertainment/Rising Sun Presents), Julian Booker (tour/production manager/radio host), Maggie Poulos (Mixtape Media), Brian McTear (Miner Street Recording/Weathervane Music), Greg Seltzer (Philly Music Fest), and Scarlett Hernandez (REC Philly). 

He’s even delved into the Philadelphia music nonprofit world, talking with people from Rock To the Future, Girls Rock Philly and PhillyCAM. 

“It’s all an ecosystem,” Drago said. “There are so many people in the background making this whole community happen. They have stories, too, and sometimes their stories are even wilder than the ones from musicians.”

The 300th edition of 25 O’Clock will feature a special guest, but the guest’s identity is one piece of news Drago isn’t sharing just yet.

“I don’t want to show my hand just yet,” he said. “It’ll be someone involved in the Philadelphia community for a long time, with great stories, a unique point of view and thoughtful perspectives. You won’t be disappointed.” 

Although No. 300 will be a big one, Drago doesn’t foresee a big drop-off as he plans to keep the show going big.

“I suppose I’ll take a second to bask in the moment,” Drago said. “But really just a second, if that. I’ve got number 301 and 302 to put out. It never stops. Why should it? Philadelphia music never stops, and I plan on being a part of the community for a long time.”