I can clearly remember the very first episode of the culture podcast that I did. It was 2020 and the end of freshman year. I was doing a story on how graduating seniors at the time were celebrating their commencement in light of the pandemic ruining previously planned festivities. I was set up at a desk in my bedroom back home in New Jersey, recording the podcast over a Zoom call and had hid all the embarrassing childhood toys and posters behind me to give the aura that I was a professional journalist and not a 19 year old stuck back home with my parents.
The seniors I interviewed lamented over family celebrations that would never take place and how they never got to truly say goodbye to their friends. I asked if they would come back for a commencement celebration in the future, but who could really look ahead a whole year, especially given the circumstances of the world.
Back then, I would get so nervous giving interviews and I hated listening back to the sound of my own voice. My transition onto staff consisted of awkward Zoom prodo meetings with a screen of turned-off cameras and culture pitches that all had to do with how COVID made everyone’s lives suck just a little more. My interactions with the rest of the paper were email chains and staring at colorful bubbles in the top corner of the workflow.
That’s the thing with my time here. So much of it was unplanned and unpredictable. When I started on The Hatchet during the fall of freshman year, I would never have imagined the next four years playing out as they did. But despite all the downs, stressful nights editing in my room and anxiously struggling to meet deadlines, I am also so incredibly proud of the way it all ended up.
I applied for the podcast section on a whim. I can’t give a definite reason for what drew me to it. I didn’t have any podcast or audio editing experience beforehand, but when filling out the application, I just remember clicking a bunch of buttons for sections to join and one of those buttons was for podcast. That whim turned out to be one of the most defining parts of my college experience.
I loved spending my first year as a reporter in the podcast section working on the news podcast, Getting to the Bottom of It. I would sit in on interviews, monitor audio and assist in making edits. Later on in the year I started helping out more with story pitches, reaching out to sources and doing small interviews. Second semester, I applied for the official podcast host position on staff.
I didn’t get it.
I didn’t get the position hosting our news podcast as I had hoped, but I didn’t exactly get rejected either. I was hired onto staff, but my exact role was still unclear. I was originally supposed to have a small culture segment at the end of the news podcast which then turned into a co-hosting position which then led to screw it, let’s just create a culture podcast.
What’s New Buff and Blue became my baby. I was given the opportunity to start something on The Hatchet from the ground up, create a new piece of the paper that would hopefully live on even after I graduate and move on to the next stage of my life.
Through my reporting, I have met and interviewed so many amazing people. I’ve talked to professional matchmakers, restaurant owners, scientists leading a cat census, paranormal investigators, student musicians and professional artists. I interviewed a psychic as he led a seance in our Hatchet Townhouse and trounced around DC to give advice on the ideal Valentine’s Day date. I’ve had so many incredible experiences, interacted with so many incredible people and made so many incredible friends.
College splits your life up into pieces. Digestible chunks of what in the end becomes one whole experience to look back on. I’ve always enjoyed how each semester can bring something new, people come and go from staff, positions shift, policies change. Each week I would get to tell a different story.
Interviews moved from the struggles of COVID shutdown to recovery from COVID shutdown to a campus and a city finally living its life again. I changed with it. I no longer cringe at the sound of my own voice, I lead interviews with more confidence and I’ve strengthened skills in editing I would never imagine from myself as a freshman.
I don’t know what I’ll do next in life or what role my time in The Hatchet will end up playing in the rest of my existence. I don’t even know how my legacy of the culture podcast will continue to live on in the future. Maybe the next year is still as unpredictable as it was back in my childhood bedroom as a freshman. Yet, all the same, I hope that this is just the beginning of something greater to come, and I can’t wait to hit play on episode two.
To all those who’ve supported me along the way, thank you.
Amanda: Where to even begin. I express a lot of my emotions through blunt humor, but I am able to be emotional and cheesy when needed and when talking about our friendship, I think it is called for. These past years on The Hatchet together have truly bonded us in unique ways, like finding out we were both born in the same hospital and that we each share a birthday with a US president. It’s crazy to think about how long we’ve been working together. So long, that your presence has been the most constant part of my time on The Hatchet even as everything else has shifted semester to semester. Our video-podcast collabs have been some of my favorite stories to work on. Being in a multimedia section can sometimes feel unforgiving, but it has never not been worth it because I know I have you to support me through it. I’m gonna miss hanging out with you in the back corner of the townhouse basement, telling wild stories from our weekend and complaining about the edits we have to do. I hope that wherever you end up after graduation, it is somewhere close to me. Otherwise, meeting up for happy hour will be very inconvenient.
Annie: Before I even had a conversation with you, I knew that I wanted to be your friend. You bring such a lively energy to both the paper and everyone else in your life that is impossible not to be infatuated with. I have had such a pleasure getting to know you this semester from collabing with you for your advice column to training you to take over the culture podcast next year! As I’ve mentioned before, What’s New Buff and Blue is my baby and I wouldn’t trust just anybody to take it over. You are so creative, funny and spirited and I can’t wait to listen to you on the podcast next volume!
Erika: At a Hatchet party during the beginning of last semester, I remember you coming over to talk to me and saying “I am so glad that I met you.” You probably couldn’t tell between the dim lights of the party and the sounds of screaming drunk kids, but I got so choked up at what you said and almost started crying. You are one of the most hardworking and amazing people on The Hatchet. I am so impressed at the amount of work and coverage you do for this paper. And at the end of it all, you still manage to be the sweetest person ever. I hope you know that I am so glad that I met you too.
Sejal: Each week, I get slightly, secretly competitive when they read analytics to see if the news pod or culture pod received more listens. Yet I still have to admit that when news pulls ahead, you always deserve it. You came into the podcast section with a vision and over the last year and a half have done an amazing job at executing it. You tell amazing stories, have a great podcast voice and do a stellar job at banter with who you interview. Keep telling amazing stories next year because you know I will be reading them!
Max: You have been such a welcome addition to our podcast family. It’s been amazing watching you grow in the section and as a staff member within the rest of the paper. I wish you the best of luck next volume covering metro!
Ethan V: Ever since the very first day you showed up to the podcast reporter meeting, I was so impressed with you. You have always been so thoughtful and well spoken and you were always the obvious choice to take over the podcast when I left to go abroad. Listening to you every week kept me connected to my life at GW when I was away. It’s too bad that you left the podcast section, but you are doing a phenomenal job in social media. I can’t wait to see what you’ll do next!
Ethan B: There’s a reason I rarely do my work at the townhouse. One of the best parts of prodo is chilling in the basement with you, laughing and joking around instead of actually getting our edits done. You are such a hilarious person and I always look forward to hanging out with you after staff meeting, talking about the op-eds you’re working on and hearing you criticize my hot takes. Even though I would be way more productive without your distractions, I still can’t help hanging back in the townhouse for just a couple hours while pretending to do work.
Nuria: I don’t envy the job you have, but I do envy your amazing skill and drive. It takes an incredible person to manage the sports section with the talent and motivation that you have, and there will definitely be a hole in this paper when you are gone next semester. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you this year through hanging out after staff meetings, and I hope I have not been too annoying while you are trying to get work done.
Auden: To whoever is reading this, if you like the photos then you have Auden to thank. I had so much fun on our little photo shoot and I am so happy with how the pictures have turned out. You are such a talented photographer and I know you will only continue to do amazing work in the next volume.
Alec: I remember meeting you exactly one time before COVID moved us online to train into our new positions for that volume. That year, 90 percent of my human interaction on The Hatchet came from talking to you during our budgeting and reporter meetings. When we finally did come back in person, it was nice to automatically have you there as a friend. I was always so impressed with what you accomplished every week on the news podcast. You were always so prepared and knew the perfect questions to ask. I’m amazed with all you’ve been doing since leaving The Hatchet and I hope you’re proud of the work you’ve left behind.
Sarah Roach: I hope you realize the immense impact you’ve had on everyone who was fortunate enough to work with you. You were essential in helping me not only create What’s New Buff and Blue, but also develop the skills and confidence needed as a reporter. You were always so helpful in the day-to-day process of creating the podcast that it was easy to forget that you were also managing the rest of the paper in addition to me. I hope in my time here that I’ve been able to become even 10 percent of the journalist you were.
Gwyn Wheeler: I honestly don’t know how our section has managed to function since you left. You have such incredible talent with music and audio editing that I will never be able to live up to. Though it was chaotic and short lived, I hope you enjoyed the time we got together on The Hatchet and I hope you know how much I admire you.
Meredith: I am so glad that you had so much faith in a freshman with no prior podcast experience. You were my very first editor on The Hatchet, my mentor through my growth as a multimedia reporter. Those Friday and Saturday afternoons recording in the townhouse basement with you were pivotal to my interest in podcasting and what drove me to become more involved in the paper. I hope that I have managed to live up to the legacy that you started with the podcast section!
My Reporters: Chloe: You have such a sweet personality and I love how eager you always are to take on assignments. I hope you continue to do work for The Hatchet because I know you have so much talent in you. Robert: It has been so great getting to know you each week during our podcast meetings. I appreciate the dedication you’ve kept for this section and hope you keep pursuing it because you have so many great ideas and insights. Capucine: At the very beginning of the semester, you told me that you were scared of asking interview questions and hearing your voice recorded. Since then, it has been amazing to see all the confidence you have acquired. I wish you the best of luck in your future journalism career and hope that podcasting continues to be apart of it. Sarah: If you ever decide to come back to the US, you should definitely get a career in podcasting because us Americans are obsessed with a British accent. Accent or not, you’ve been a delight to have in my section this year and I hope I’ve helped make your study abroad experience as amazing as possible. Nick: You have spent this entire year absolutely killing it in podcast and I know that next year, you will absolutely kill it as video editor. You always have amazing pitches, lead interviews with such grace and I appreciate the enthusiasm you would bring to every meeting. I can’t wait to see everything else you will accomplish on The Hatchet in the future.
Mom, Dad and Gwen: If the podcast only got one listen each week, I know it would be you guys. You’re not only my number one supporters, but also the number one supporters of the paper as a whole. Sometimes I learn about the most recent Hatchet news through the family group chat before I even check the website myself. Every challenge I’ve ever had to face has been made so much easier knowing that I have a supportive family who has my back through it all. I hope that in the future, I can continue to make you guys proud.
All my friends: To all my friends who listened to my podcasts and read my articles. The friends who put up with me constantly working or stressing about work and gave me a shoulder to complain on. The friends who learned when I had Hatchet meetings and knew to schedule events around it. To everyone who supported me on this journey, I love you all. ♥️
This article appeared in the May 1, 2023 issue of the Hatchet.