How One Simple Comment Started A Podcast

Gabriel T., journalist

“You know, as I listened to you speak – great presentation by the way – I couldn’t help but feel like I was listening to a podcast. There is something just so relaxing and podcast-like about your voice.” 

I stared at my computer screen in awe. I, podcast? I never would have thought my voice would sound like a podcast host, but oh well. 

At the time it seemed like a nice compliment–a funny thought. That was all. Little did I know, that small compliment would lead me to one of the best things that ever happened to me. 

It was May of 2020, and we were in the depths of quarantine from Covid-19, so of course, since I was at an in-person school, we had to be online for the final stretch of eighth grade. And what usually would have been a night of amazing, diverse, presentations on projects, ranging from film and writing to boat building, was an online presentation, staring at your bright screen, unable to see how many people actually had shown up. 

I had chosen to take photographs of dogs and their owners and then interview the owners on their relationship between the two of them, and then those photos and interviews became stories for a book. Thus became Dog Tales. 

I presented my experiences; learning to take good photos, not on the assist setting, having the courage to walk up to strangers and their dogs and ask to take a photo, and above all, learning how to turn interviews into stories. And then, of course, making the book. I worked for months and months, in and out of a pandemic. In the end, I had seventeen complete interviews turned into stories, and even a section in my book dedicated to our local animal shelter, documenting all of the dogs they were helping. 

I went through my slideshow of photos and told my stories of meeting new dogs and people too. 

At the end of the presentation there was time for questions and comments. I was asked which dog was my favorite, what the interviews were like, and then one parent raised their hand. Well, he virtually raised it. “I absolutely love dogs. You know, as I listened to you speak, great presentation by the way, I couldn’t help but feel like I was listening to a podcast. There is something just so relaxing and podcast-like about your voice.” 

“Thank you,” I replied, “that’s so kind of you.” At the time, I thought nothing of it. But now I have an entire book podcast where every other Friday I talk with a new guest in the book world and I am having the time of my life. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I began ninth grade and my days became full of taking a train to my school, getting up at five in the morning, and getting home around dinner time. I quickly became exhausted and I no longer had time to enjoy outside hobbies from school. I knew for tenth grade, something needed to change.  

It was about late May, close to the end of my school year, when I overheard a classmate of mine make a comment in a break between math and humanities. I listened closer to better hear what she was saying. 

“A podcast would be so much fun. Yeah, Sarah, you and I should make a podcast.” 

“Grace, what would we even talk about?”

“I have no idea, but we’ll figure it out.” 

“Also, how do you even start a podcast?” 

“We’d figure that out too.” 

A podcast…where had I heard that before? Right! Eighth grade. Gosh, should I start a podcast? 

The idea of having a podcast seemed so professional and something that people would be surprised by and interested about. But I had no idea what the podcast would be about or where I should start. 

When the beginning of tenth grade rolled around, I had started at a new school: George Washington University Online High School. I would have much more time for my hobbies and after school activities than I was afforded at my old school. 

About three months into my new school year, my mother and I took a trip to San Francisco to see friends. One of the friends  was in college and so she gave us a tour of her drive along the coast to UCSC, or better known as the University of California Santa Cruz. As we drove, we started talking about our most recent TV show obsessions. 

I asked my friend, “Have you seen Only Murders in-”  

“-the Building?” she finished my sentence for me, “Have I?! I am obsessed! And the way they incorporate the podcast that the characters have into the show is genius!” 

There it was again. Podcast. 

“Yeah,” I nodded, “it really is.” My mind had wandered, but not too far. That was it! I’d do a podcast about something in my life! Something I loved. Books. And reading! I could invite authors, readers, social media book content creators, book reviewers- anyone in the book world would be invited. We’d talk about books and reading and why it’s so amazing and why my guests love books so much. 

I returned home a few days later, my mind steaming with ideas. I was now given much more free time thanks to my school, and why not use that time doing something I loved? I set to work planning a cover for the podcast and working on a list of people I’d want to have on my show. The names were endlessly flowing out of my brain. I hadn’t been this excited since…well, never! 

After lots of planning I had decided on reaching out to my first guest. Marc Kornblatt, a children’s book author and middle grade novelist who was an old friend. He was such a nice person and was very involved in the book world, so maybe he’d like to be on my show. I drafted the email: 

Subject: Try Reading Podcast 

It looked so amazing to see my title in an email. 

Dear Marc, 

How are you? It’s Gabriel Torres, Jennifer Torres’ son. I’m reaching out with a question about a podcast…. 

After a few days of sending the email, I was finishing up my school work before winter break when I heard a ding on my laptop from my email inbox. 

I held my breath. I had never understood true anticipation until now. My right foot tapped quickly on the floor, I could even feel my hands becoming shaky as I opened the tab:

Re: Try Reading Podcast 

Hi Gabriel! 

It’s so wonderful to hear from you. I would LOVE to be on your podcast….

I screamed with joy and flew up from my chair. I did it. It was a small start, but it was definitely a start. And who knows where it would take me. 

Now, it is 2023, and I have concluded Season 1 of Try Reading in December 2022, and I began Season 2 in January of 2023. It has been more than one year since the conception of the idea and this podcast has been the best experience. I meet new amazing people every month, and I am rich with friends in the book world.

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