How I Podcast: In conversation with "Teenager Therapy"
September 4, 2020
We’re talking with podcasters from all walks of life about their creative process and why audio is one of the coolest ways to tell a story.
Podcasting lends itself to vulnerability. You can create wherever and whenever you feel most comfortable, with friends or by yourself, protected from the pressure of a live audience. It’s this freedom of expression that makes the medium a safe space for creators and listeners alike. Your podcast can be a place for unfiltered discussions about whatever you’re going through, because odds are, someone else is going through it too.
That’s the inspiration behind Teenager Therapy, a weekly podcast of candid conversations led by high schooler Gael and his classmates Isaac, Kayla, Thomas, and Mark. Teenager Therapy invites audiences to listen in on the real problems of teenagers today in the hopes that people of all ages can feel comfortable expressing their raw emotions.
Each episode follows the twists and turns of five friends hanging out, with conversations covering anything from isolation and performative activism to Netflix recommendations and plans for college. The group records the podcast sitting circled around a bed and a couch, with occasional drop-ins from guests and fellow creators. The show’s discussion is free-form and unedited, staying true to whatever’s on their minds in the moment. The immediacy of the conversation adds a layer of intimacy to the podcast, as if the listener is just another friend in the circle, processing problems like anyone else. It’s the hosts’ vulnerability that opens the door for support and reminds anyone listening that they are not alone. In this way, Teenager Therapy serves as a time capsule for the anxiety of a young generation and also the widespread, personal growth that comes from sharing your deep-down feelings for everyone to hear.
We talked with the hosts of Teenager Therapy about their podcasting process and what they learned along the way.
What motivated you to start a podcast?
Gael: I felt like no one was talking about the things going on in every teenager’s life. There are so many influencers out there, yet none were genuinely putting light on deeper topics or sharing the experiences that affect their mental health. I wanted to show others that they’re not alone — we all go through these things, and it’s completely valid.
Isaac: I noticed other teenagers my age keeping their problems pent up inside their heads and not sharing them. After many classmates who I barely met shared their problems with me, I wondered why they trusted me so much. Did they want to be vulnerable so badly that they would express their emotions to the first person they trusted? I wished that there could be an easier way for others my age to find a safe place to relate to their peers without being heavily judged. When Gael told me his idea for the podcast, I loved it, and we’ve worked together since then.
What’s your show’s format and how did you decide on it?
Gael: Our format is simple. The five of us sit down and record conversations around certain topics. I wanted the podcast to feel as authentic and genuine as possible. I wanted vulnerability to be our main value — that’s why sometimes we get emotional on the podcast. It’s completely raw.
What’s your recording setup?
Kayla: We normally record in Thomas’s bedroom, where three of us usually sit on the couch and two people on the bed. The couch and bed are facing each other, so it’s easier to look at each other and make eye contact. We set the microphone stands on the ground, adjust the mic to our height, do some test runs, and then record.
How do you promote your podcast?
Thomas: We’ve tried many different types of advertising methods, but the most effective by far has been Instagram. We pay mid-sized accounts to post a description of our podcast and tag us. This has single-handedly boosted our growth massively.
What’s one thing you wish you knew about podcasting before you started?
Thomas: I wish I was aware of the amount of time and mental drain podcasting can take. It can become very overwhelming trying to balance school, a social life, and the podcast. There were many days when I wanted to sit out of the podcast or simply get it over with. However, it has definitely gotten easier as time goes on.
Kayla: Before podcasting, I wish I understood the emotional aspects of conversations. I was never one to share my real feelings or personal problems with my friends, and that changed when I started podcasting. It has definitely been difficult at times to express myself, but I feel that it has gotten easier for me.
Mark: One thing I wished I realized before starting the podcast was the value of our words. Initially, I thought this was going to be a fun little project. As our podcast grew, we received tons of appreciation and DMs on our instagram. That’s when I realized I can really leave a positive impact on people’s lives. Through our podcast, we have the ability to share our experiences and express our feelings, and sometimes that’s just what people need: stories to relate to. Knowing that, I hope to keep growing my voice. I wished I realized that sooner.
Isaac: Before the podcast, I wish I knew that a podcast does not need to be highly formal or scripted. It is a lot more genuine to simply have a conversation about a topic and share your honest thoughts or opinions. Always share your honest insight, because other listeners may relate to you as well.
Why did you want to use audio to tell your story?
Thomas: I’m not the most confident or most attractive person, but I definitely love my personality and it’s something I embrace. Additionally, without having to show our faces, I think the listeners have to really listen to our words and the emotions in our voice. Audio provides a much more genuine feel.
Mark: The thing about podcasts is that they are extremely convenient. You can listen to them while doing errands, doing your chores, going to school, etc. We want to be there for comfort, and what better way to do that than being right beside you, by your ears?
Do you have a favorite Anchor feature?
Gael: I absolutely adore how easy it is to monetize episodes. If we need some extra cash, we can always turn on a couple of ads in an episode and that usually does the trick.
What’s the benefit to having multiple co-hosts?
Thomas: You have multiple perspectives and different personalities! It makes the discussion a lot more interesting and engaging. It also helps having a strong support system when you’re sharing your emotions.
"Be a great listener, especially with a guest. As the interviewer, you want to ask questions you audience wants to know. Your audience is here to listen to the guest, and you're the bridge between the two." –Mark Hugo
What’s your best podcasting advice?
Thomas: Be yourself! It’s easy to mask your personality and only show the “good” parts, but the best podcasts have the most authentic and genuine people.
Kayla: I would have to say don’t be afraid to be vulnerable! Sometimes it can feel like you’re the only person going through something, but once you let the words roll off your tongue, you’ll find that you’re not alone, and you’re likely helping someone by simply telling your story.
Gael: Be unique! Before you start a podcast, ask yourself: why would people listen to me out of everyone else? What is your unique trait? What viewpoint do you have that no one else does?
Mark: My podcasting advice is to be a great listener, especially with a guest. As the interviewer, you want to ask questions your audience wants to know. Your audience is here to listen to the guest, and you’re the bridge between the two.
Isaac: Just be yourself and not try to hold back your opinion simply because it goes against the norm. It’s OK to be vulnerable or different, and I definitely still have trouble expressing that now — but that’s my favorite thing about our podcast. You can practice at having a healthy way to express yourself.
What’s your favorite thing about your podcast?
Thomas: My favorite thing about the podcast is the ability to help people. Whether it’s just one person or a thousand, my experience can resonate with others and make them feel better. The feeling of possibly being a positive difference in somebody’s life is extraordinary, and it brings me joy.
Kayla: My favorite thing is definitely talking to our listeners. Whether it’s an Instagram DM, a comment, or a Voice Message, they never fail to brighten my day. It’s always fun messaging them.
Mark: My favorite thing about the podcast is the ability to share our experiences. I thought I was alone when it came to my problems. As I expressed my feelings on the podcast, people reached out to me because they felt the same way I did. It made me happy, so I’d say doing this podcast is therapeutic for me as well.
How do you podcast? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram. If you’re looking for more tips, check out the previous edition of How I Podcast, and if you want to start your own, try making something awesome with Anchor.