Blog /The 'Oh No's' and Joys of Creating the First PEERS Podcast
When I began journalism school at the University of Southern California, my dream was to be a magazine writer. I had no interest in broadcast reporting, but my master’s program required students take multimedia classes. Everyday our television-broadcast teacher gave us a current events quiz. Someone in the class figured out the instructor pulled her questions from the morning news rundown on our local public radio station. I began listening to public radio to bump up my quiz scores, but something even better happened. The radio bug bit me. Using sound for storytelling fascinated me. After graduate school I stayed in Los Angeles and went to work as producer for NPR and later American Public Media. Our weak job market brought me back to the Bay Area (we can talk about long-term underemployment and mental health on another day).
Months after moving back to the Bay Area, I landed a job at PEERS. On the first day my supervisor Shannon Eliot gave me a checklist of duties. To my absolute delight I saw “podcast” on the list. I couldn’t wait to pull out my microphone and look for story ideas. Our Assistant Director Lisa Smusz suggested I review an article about people linking Casey Anthony to bipolar disorder. Anthony is the recently freed mother from Florida accused of killing her toddler. Mental health advocate and writer Andy Behrman wrote the article for About.com. I interviewed him for the podcast about bipolar stigma and why he stopped being a spokesman for the makers of Abilfy. Not only did he stop endorsing the drug, but he made a video spoofing Abilify.
My interview with Behrman was great, but not without technical drama. My recorder cut off in the middle of the interview, there was a problem with my phone and one of the recording devices left my stimulating interview with an annoying buzz sound. Can you say, “AHHHHHHH!”? Keep in mind, I come from a background of working in a studio with an engineer. I was a one-woman news team in this instance. But like my grandma always says, “It’s gonna be okay because it has to be.” In other words, somehow things will work out. She was right. Thanks to some in-person coaching from PEERS receptionist/media genius Oden, and long-distance support from sound engineering gods Carlos Ascencio and Henry Howard, I was able to polish up the sound quality. I’m excited about the future of this show. The PEERS Podcast will feature a variety of voices and stories related to mental health. Some stories will make you reach for the tissue box or the phone to contact your legislator. Other stories will inspire and even make you laugh. Whatever your reaction, I hope you walk away from your ear buds and speakers with some enlightenment on mental health. We welcome your ears and a few minutes of your time to the PEERS Podcast. Thanks for listening!
If you have suggestions for future shows, please leave a comment.