York College student’s “Buzzed” podcast creating a buzz of its own
Last year Lara Thrapp spent her weekends holed up in a room brimming with stacks of CDs, her ears covered with a pair of headphones, listening to the sound of her own voice for hours on end.
Her friends would visit her in her office at the York College of Pennsylvania radio station above the Student Union, bringing her food and making sure she hadn’t become buried in a CD avalanche.
It was tedious, difficult work, but it paid off.
This April, Lara flew to Las Vegas to accept two awards in podcasting at the 17th Annual BEA “Best of Festival” King Foundation Awards Ceremony.
Lara is an avid NPR listener. She thinks Terry Gross, the host of “Fresh Air,” is incredible. And Megan Tan, the voice of “Millennial,” is her role model. So last year, as a junior Mass Communication major, she decided to make her own podcast.
It wasn’t totally out of the blue. She was the music director at the College radio station, and she knew the importance of being versatile in the media world. So, she designed an independent study that would allow her to flex her creativity and try her hand at the audio medium.
She called it “Buzzed.”
An evolving idea
The idea was simple — she’d interview professors about buzzwords used in their classroom and, she assumed, they’d rant about how much they hated them. But as she went out into the field, her assumptions were immediately challenged.
“I came out of it realizing it was so much bigger than that,” she says. “And I love being proven wrong.”
One professor argued in defense of buzzwords as a bonding agent. Then, she realized the topic went well beyond academia. So, she branched out, interviewing people in the business world and even a reporter from the Chicago Tribune.
The result of her countless hours of audio gathering and editing — three 10-15 minute episodes that she had created on her own from start to finish.
Through the independent study Lara was able to craft her own educational experience. She learned how to work through her ideas and deal with little, and big, problems.
“As an independent study, it really is what you make it and it really is the real world,” she says.
“Buzzed” was her baby. It taught her how she works as a creative person, how she goes through that process and works through her ideas.
“It was nice to kind of take what I had learned and put it into something that mattered to me and that I could have ownership of the quality and the direction,” she says.
She got the email and text from York College Professor Jeffrey Schiffman.
It was surreal. It had been about a year since she’d produced the podcasts. But it was more than just one win. She was the first York College student to win two simultaneous awards at the festival.
Lara was excited to go to Las Vegas to accept the awards — she had never been there — but she also planned to use the opportunity to network and learn everything she could from the conference surrounding the awards.
She credits much of her success with the podcast to her professors and faculty advisors. They gave her the courage to pursue her questions, telling her she had just as much right as any other journalist to stick a microphone in someone’s face and ask them what they think.
The experience has given her confidence to be able to create in her own space, to work through big ideas, and to challenge herself.
She doesn’t know where her own story will take her once she graduates in May — but she’s excited to pursue the leads wherever they take her to find out.