What goes into creating a podcast? Well, the simple answer is a lot of hard work, dedication, commitment and of course we can’t forget a lot of fun! When I came to Leader Dog in August 2021 to be the digital marketing manager, I had no idea how many opportunities would open.
One of the first projects I was told about was the podcast. My background is in television news. I know how to broadcast but podcasting was still new to me. I was ready to take on this new challenge with my cohosts Leslie Hoskins and Timothy Cuneio. Leslie is a certified orientation & mobility specialist as well as the outreach services and community engagement manager. Timothy was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa when he was 12 years old. He came to Leader Dog for orientation and mobility or white cane training and for our guide dog programs. Leslie is a resource of knowledge in her field and Timothy is living it day in and day out. With these among two amazing people, I was ready to learn and make an impact.
We started the journey of podcasting in September. Planning, prepping, researching hosting sites, visiting the studio we would use, getting a graphic made, coming up with a marketing plan, the list goes on. It all seemed like so much fun and my initial thought was: let’s go all in! One 30-minute episode per week. So, we started that process.
When we started recording, I was still learning my job at Leader Dog and getting to know the many moving parts of this amazing organization. I had never met anyone who was blind or visually impaired before coming to Leader Dog, so I had a lot of questions. I’ll never forget our first call as a podcasting team. We were practicing our first episode over Zoom. Timothy’s story, the first time I was hearing it. It blew my mind to hear the things Timothy, and many of our other clients, go through when becoming blind or visually impaired. I can’t lie, I was nervous about asking the wrong question and I had so much to learn. I’m thankful Timothy was so open with his story. I know it impacted me and I’m sure it impacted many others.
By the time we got in the studio to record our first episode, we had done so much work that we all felt very prepared. We recorded one, then two and three. We were on a roll, the three of us learning how to host together. Leslie and I are in the same studio and since Timothy lives in Georgia, he calls in. We took a little break around the holidays and knew when we got into the new year our first episode would release. Our launch date was January 6, 2022.
I can’t tell you how nervous I was. It’s funny, after having been on TV every day in my past career and not having a second thought about it, I didn’t think I’d be so anxious about the podcast releasing. I kept thinking; do we sound professional? Do we all mesh well? Are people going to listen? Is the marketing plan for promotion going to get traction on social media? All the thoughts. But when that first episode released, I was blown away by the reaction. I had tears in my eyes reading comments and people being able to relate to Timothy’s story. That’s our goal, to make a difference in people’s lives.
Since then, we’ve been in the studio quite a bit and have our second season almost all planned out. I can’t wait to share our episodes with the world. I’ve been able to meet our volunteers, better get to know my team members at Leader Dog and have been given an opportunity to learn first-hand from them. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.
At first it was just Leslie, Timothy, and I. Sharing Timothy’s journey and now it’s us as a team helping others to share their stories as well. As a journalist I truly believe in the power of storytelling. It can impact the world and my hope is that giving people that platform to share, educate, and have their voices heard we can change the world. Whether it’s someone hearing about the Leader Dog services for the first time and what resources we can provide to them, educating someone about the blindness community, or touching someone’s heart to volunteer and become a Leader Dog ambassador to help spread our mission. The possibilities are endless.
It’s funny to think that when we first started, Leslie and Timothy were essentially strangers to me. Now, they’re great friends who I get to hang out with every week. We joke around, laugh, especially when I have a little too much caffeine beforehand or Timothy says something is “turrible.” But you know what the best part is, they help me to learn, grow, and spread our mission of empowering people to be unstoppable.