Barbara Venezia at a previous Feet to the Fire Forum. (Barbara Venezia / September 30, 2011)

April is around the corner, and so is Feet to the Fire Forum season.

This year, members of the Feet to the Fire team — Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Voice of OC Editor Norberto Santana Jr. and Orange County Register columnist Jack Wu — have their work cut out for them.

The first forum takes place April 17 and will include candidates for the 74th Assembly District seat.

On April 28, candidates for the 2nd District supervisorial race will grace our stage.

Both April forums will take place at the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., Costa Mesa.

It's been the home to all our forums since we started them in 2010. But this year we're branching out a bit.

The third forum, with candidates running for Costa Mesa City Council, will be held Sept. 18 at Orange Coast College's Robert B. Moore Theatre.

Canalis and I were thrilled when school officials contacted us to offer the main theater on campus for the first time.

Now OCC students will have the opportunity to see the political process live and in person in the 900-seat theater, as will the usual crop of residents.

Another first for Feet to the Fire happens Oct. 1, as we take the show to the stage of the OASIS Senior Center and talk with candidates running for council seats in Newport Beach.

Also new this year is our partnership with KOCI radio FM 101.5. The station is planning to broadcast live from each forum.

Of course we'll also welcome back our television partners, CMTV and NBTV, which will tape the shows for later broadcast.

I can't believe it's been four years since Canalis approached me with the unique idea of putting together media journalists for a political talk show format on stage.

After all, who knows candidates running for office better than the people who write about them?

In my years as a columnist, I've covered my share of traditional political forums.

The redundancy bored me to tears as candidates sat at a table, passed the microphone and all answered the same questions over and over.

I'd look at the faces in the audience; they were as glazed over as mine.

After you've been to a few of these, you start to practice the art of sleeping with your eyes open.

So if we were going to be part of creating a new format, it had to be exciting, interesting, fast-moving and challenging enough to make candidates think on their feet.

By all accounts we've accomplished that with Feet to the Fire.