Originally published on October 14, 2020
The Toddcast is on the air! The Schar School Undergraduate Student Organization (USO) has resumed recording and posting a weekly podcast—the Toddcast—that brings students to the microphone to discuss a wide range of topics that impact their lives. We spoke with the co-directors, Bachelor’s in Government and International Politics majors Imani Muguku, a junior from Dallas living in Kenya, and senior Mariam Abdellatif, originally from Cairo, about what to expect. New episodes are posted.
What are the origins of this podcast?
The creator of the podcast is Teddy Porter, who was the previous vice president of the Schar USO. He laid a lot of the foundation work for the podcast. The first couple of years of the Toddcast was filled with a lot of laying down the initial groundwork, but in this last semester, we’ve been able to find our stride in creating and posting.
Who is Todd?
The story goes that Teddy and his roommate had a toad called Todd, so they just named the podcast after him! We kept the name to honor Teddy and the effort he put into creating the Toddcast.
How long are the shows and what are the topics? Who chooses the topics?
The episodes are typically an average of 10 to 20 minutes depending on the topics. We choose the topics every week based on current events, topics we’re interested in, and sometimes suggestions from other Schar USO members.
Can other students participate?
Yes! We’ve had other students be involved with the Toddcast in the past and we would love to include more students on the episodes. If people have suggestions of topics that they would like to hear, or if they would like to be in a podcast, the comment section of our videos is the best place to let us know.
How often will new episodes be posted and where can listeners find them?
New episodes are posted on Youtube (The Toddcast Schar USO) every Monday at 5 p.m. We always notify the other Schar USO members in the Group Me and on the newsletter—good reasons to join. If anyone is interested in having access to either, they can email our Secretary of SUSO, Caitlin Kojola (firstname.lastname@example.org). We also post on our social media @schar_uso on Instagram and Twitter.
Where are they recorded? Who produces, edits, etc.?
All of our current episodes are recorded on Zoom. We had microphones and a sound mixer at the school, but with the coronavirus outbreak we haven’t been able to use our equipment. Since we are the only two working on the Toddcast, we split our tasks evenly and alternate who picks the topic and does the research each week. Mariam edits and uploads the episodes and Imani does the final quality check to make sure everything is sounding great and we didn’t miss anything.
Why is all this effort important?
Mariam: For me, this podcast is the reason why I joined the Schar USO initially. I remember when the former president of the organization came by my class and was talking about the creation of a podcast. I was immediately hooked. I listen to an average of four or five podcasts a day so I felt more than ready to take on this new exciting project.
More importantly though, one of the major reasons why it was vital, in my opinion, for us to create this podcast because there is a need to introduce a different perspective on topics that are currently in the news cycle. Along with Teddy, we were a team made up entirely of people of color. This might not seem significant to most people, but as a woman of color in politics, I have sat in many classrooms surrounded by a majority of white men. I often felt excluded and that my perspective, or the perspectives of anyone like me, were not welcome or appreciated. I was often steamrolled, ignored, and called a “pain in the ass” by one professor just because I presented an opinion that contradicted his. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common, not just at Mason, but in various places all across the U.S.
We also hope to educate people on current events, introducing the facts first, followed by our personal opinions, in the hopes that listeners will come to their own conclusions in the end. This podcast is not meant to convince anyone of anything—we believe in everyone’s right to their own beliefs and opinions. However, we do want to present arguments or perspectives that maybe some people have never heard before; what they make of it is up to them.
Imani: The podcast was also the main reason why I joined the Schar USO as well. At the time I was going through a period where almost all of the news I was consuming was through podcasts. Hearing that I could be a part of the same forum that was part of my new routine was serendipitously good timing. Now as a co-director of the podcast, in an election year no less, I find the task of disseminating information to university students that much more exciting and important.
Creating a space to talk about things that are important to our demographic, that are also steeped in the news that are affecting all of our lives, is a responsibility that I don’t take lightly. It is one that I do with passion, because these issues matter.
My hope is that we can become a part of people’s routines. That they can join in on our conversations, and as a group we can examine our opinions. We stand at a very crucial and divisive time in history. The stories that we document are meant to start more conversations, past the end of our podcast, with friends, family, and those we interact with daily. These issues are bigger than us and in that way we act as vessels for a more informed, more understanding student body.
My main goal is to do good with the things that I have. I think to be able to provide anyone with even a moment of reflection is the most powerful way that I can be a force for good.