Talks with Tim is a weekly Q&A by Tim Grobaty, who has been a columnist in Long Beach for nearly 50 years. If you’d like to suggest an interesting or influential person in Long Beach for this (unconventional) interview, reach him at [email protected].

Heather Kern is the executive director of the Belmont Shore Business Association.

Tim Grobaty: Go ahead and take a free punch. Ask yourself any question.

Heather Kern: What podcasts are my favorites? “99% Invisible” is my favorite podcast. It’s by Roman Mars who talks about design in everyday things that go unnoticed. It’s so fascinating with so much history. I also listen to “Small Town Dicks,” hosted by Yeardley Smith, who does the voice of Lisa on “The Simpsons.” They talk to police officers from Anywhere, USA about cases that have to do with a lot of different crimes. I like the true crime genre, but I don’t like murder. This show deals with con men, thieves and other criminals without violence.

Q: You don’t have much of a drive to get to work. When do you find time to listen to podcasts?

A: I listen at night when I’m in bed. It helps me focus and ignore all the chatter in my head. I usually fall asleep and have to listen later to catch the end. I also listen on road trips.

Q: What’s it like playing a key role in an area like Belmont Shore?

A: I’m having a good time. It’s fun to put together events and to have the ability to get things done. If there’s an issue, say, that requires Public Works, it’s nice that I can call them up and things get done about it. And I get to plan the best event in the city, the Belmont Shore Christmas Parade.

Q: Do you know a lot about the history of the Shore?

A: Well, I grew up here, so at least I can recall my own experiences. I worked at the Shore House. I spent a lot of time at Horny Corner and going to Grandma’s Sugar Plum and Alan’s Shoes. I’d go to Marinoff’s at Christmas and they had the whole store decorated. They charged $1 to go in—at least for us kids. I absolutely loved Teachers’ Supply, it was just packed with cool stuff, not just school supplies.

Q: Were you born in Belmont Shore?

A: No, we moved here when I was 6—We had moved around quite a bit all over California: Berkeley, Big Bear, Tustin. We moved to Bluff Park and I remember playing ditch-’em at night; I can’t imagine doing that now.

Q: What’s missing from Second Street? What would you like to see here?

A: I think it’s sad that we don’t have a bookstore or a record store here. There used to be more retail in general; it’s just the way the world has moved and shifted. I used to love it when Fingerprints was here. And in junior high there was McCain’s Records. I think every Main Street should have a bookstore and a music store. And we could use a bodega.

Q: Places come and go over the years. What are some of the longest-running establishments on Second Street?

A: McCarty’s Jewelry has been here since 1932. Billings Paint & Hardware has been on Second since 1951. Domenico’s started in 1954 and they call themselves Long Beach’s oldest continuing restaurant.

Q: What’s on your Spotify playlist?

A: I still prefer Pandora. I don’t want to think about what I want to hear. I like Pandora’s curated playlist. I listen to a lot of jazz. I listen to KJazz [KKJZ, 88.1 FM]  a lot. I was on a road trip recently and I thought about how lucky we are to have KJazz in Long Beach. It’s hard to find jazz in a lot of parts of the country.

Q: Blair Cohn is your counterpart in Bixby Knolls. Do you two talk much?

A: We talk, but there are a lot of differences between what he’s done on Atlantic and what I can do on Second Street.  I can work on the improvement parts here, freshening up the neighborhood. It needs a fresh coat of paint, it needs more plants, more brightening up.. I wish I had more of what Blair has; we don’t have an EXPO, or an alley that we can activate like he does. I’m hoping we can get some love from Long Beach Walls [formerly POW! WOW!]. There are a lot of blank walls along Second: Stereoscope, Nick the Greek, the old Grunion Gazette, Starbucks … There are plenty of places to paint murals here.

Q: Do you walk Second Street regularly as part of your job?

A: Yes. Nothing structured but I go out several times a week, just making a general inspection, checking in with businesses, removing flyers on poles, checking the trash cans, seeing if a new business is open yet.

Q: Yeah, how’s South of Nick’s coming?

A: It’s coming, but it’s going to take a while.

Melissa Evans is the executive editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach her at [email protected], @melissaevansLBP or 562-437-5814.