In 7th grade, I had a lot on my mind. I wanted to have an outlet to share my voice, but YouTube was too daunting and blogging was too boring. After being gifted my first phone, I remember browsing through various apps and landed on the Podcasts app. Curious, I opened the app and began listening. A whole afternoon whizzed by, and I knew from that instant on, I needed to start a podcast.
But what should I talk about? Who would ever care to listen to a teenager ramble on? And most of all, how do I even get started? Days, weeks, and months passed as I browsed through hundreds of business blogs, motivational courses, and obsolete resources on creating a podcast. At first, podcasts seemed to be the perfect outlet for my voice, but after seeing business gurus tout how much money they earned from podcasting, I gradually grew reluctant to start my own.
What should I talk about? Who would ever care to listen to a teenager ramble on? And most of all, how do I even get started?
Over the next few months, I began planning to create my own podcast. Months went into developing the perfect name, perfect cover art, and perfect plan for each episode. But as I dedicated hundreds of hours to aligning the image into my cover art, finding the perfect idiom for the podcast title, and meticulously scripting the episodes, I grew tired. An ideal project became a dull, mundane, and stressful process of worrying over little details. I was missing what I had set out to do originally — share my unique voice to the world on what I cared most about.
Luckily enough, during my afternoon podcast ventures, I stumbled upon Podcast Movement, an entire community devoted towards podcasters. I had finally discovered other hobbyists who wanted to podcast for the sake of podcasting.
I had finally discovered other hobbyists who wanted to podcast for the sake of podcasting.
“Just do it.” These 3 words were what a member of the Podcast Movement group had said. And so, one night, without much preparation, I recorded my first episode and released my podcast. It was a rather uneventful climax compared to the grueling rising action. The next morning, as I got out of bed, I checked the stats of my podcast: 3 downloads. It was an underwhelming result, but the idea of 3 unique listeners who heard my voice still excited me. Over the course of a few months, I released 14 episodes. Since then, I created 3 more podcast channels all with various topics.
One of my favorite episodes was one that I created with Nobel Prize Laureate, Dr. Robert Woodrow Wilson, who is credited with finding evidence of the Big Bang. His discovery actually happened right behind my high school over 50 years ago. In the episode, I take listeners on a journey of uncovering the deep history of my small town. Through the podcasts that I have produced, I have been able to gain recognition through this year’s NPR Student Podcast Challenge and the New York Times’ Student Podcast Contest.
As a finalist in both contests, my biggest advice is just to be passionate about what you’re sharing with the world. Personally, I love history and society, and through my podcasts, I was able to connect both of my interests into an episode. In fact, I was never intending to participate in either contest. You’re going to be spending a lot of time not only recording but also editing and planning. However, beyond any recognition, what constantly amazes me is the ability to share my voice with those around the world.
As a finalist in both contests, my biggest advice is just to be passionate about what you’re sharing with the world.
Podcasting has afforded me the opportunity to question the world and develop my curiosity. But what made me wait so long before creating my own? Frankly, there were no resources that were helpful to a student hobby podcaster.
Recently, I decided to transcribe some of the notes that I had written down in 2016 and 2018 down into a long guide to help students like me start podcasting. I have gone ahead and created a website, www.StudentPodcasts.com, where the guides and resources that I have created are located. Here, students will be able to go step-by-step, down the list to create their own podcasts.
Podcasting is a gift that I want to share with other students. It has followed me throughout the years as I have grown from a nervous kid to a passionate and motivated teenager. We, as students, have an obligation to share our voices. If you’re on the fence on making a podcast, let me give you some advice: “Just do it.”