Fordham Students Take the Plunge into the World of Podcasting


Alex DiFiore, FCRH ’22, (left) began his podcast “Who Asked” with his childhood friend Aaron Cohen (right) during quarantine. (Alex DiFiore/The Ram)

The early months of the COVID-19 pandemic afforded many Americans an unexpected period of extended isolation and lots of free time. Many chose to pick up new hobbies to curb quarantine boredom, including home renovations, crocheting and the subtle art of home-baked bread. For Alex DiFiore, FCRH ’22, the summer of 2020 proved the perfect time to launch a weekly podcast.

DiFiore said the idea came while playing video games with friends. He and his close friend Aaron Cohen, who attends Haverford College, enjoyed spending long hours during online quarantine gaming together, making jokes and talking about every topic under the sun. One night, one of their mutual friends suggested they take their funny conversations and turn them into a podcast. 

After some back and forth, DiFiore and Cohen decided to take a leap of faith and create their show, “Who Asked.” As the podcast description states, “The most inconsequential show on the internet. Two Psych Majors (who think they know everything about the universe) provide answers to questions that absolutely nobody asked.” 

DiFiore said he was a little apprehensive to put himself out there by posting the first episodes of the podcast. “I definitely was nervous about putting weird conversation topics and even just vulgar stuff on the internet, especially because Aaron and I were applying for jobs at the time,” said DiFiore. “But honestly, with time, we just got more comfortable.”

Eventually, it became no big deal to include even the weirdest conversations in their episodes.

DiFiore said the podcast closely reflects the kinds of conversations he and Cohen share all the time. In order to keep a feeling of authenticity in each episode, the two try to talk about things they would discuss in real life and keep their audio editing in post-production to a minimum.

“As far as editing actual content out, we hardly do,” said DiFiore. “The more you edit what you put up, the less ‘you’ it is. If we edited out all of our six out of 10 jokes just to keep the good ones in there, it would definitely be entertaining, but it wouldn’t be ‘us.’ We would rather it be transparently ‘us’ than an edited version.” 

So far, DiFiore said his favorite episodes to record have been “Episode 10: Panera Cult” and “Episode 30: Tennis Isn’t Real.” These two installments provide a great introduction to their show, explained DiFiore. 

DiFiore is not the only Fordham student who has taken the plunge into the world of podcasting. 

Patrick Breen, FCRH ’22, began his show, “Pop Culture Nerd,” during the winter break of 2019 to 2020, a few months before the pandemic hit. Breen had experience in audio recording through his work at WFUV, where he hosts the weekly four-hour radio show “Ceol na nGael” on Irish music and culture. 

Breen said he saw his solo podcast as an opportunity to enjoy more creative freedom with the art he discusses in each episode. Episodes vary by topic, from movies to current events in popular culture. Some installments feature Breen’s friend Vincent Simpson, who studies at Ithaca College. 

“It was something to do just to showcase my interests,” explained Breen. 

Breen said one of his favorite episodes to record so far was “The Tragic Story of Her’s,” which follows the story of a British band whose members died in a car accident in 2019. Breen was able to interview the band’s agent Rob Gibbs for the episode.

“People like to have their stories told, especially if they’re more behind the scenes,” said Breen. “I don’t think he’d ever done a long-form interview about the band, and I think it was — not to put too much stock in my podcast — that he needed that kind of emotional catharsis because he hadn’t really talked it out in an interview before.” 

Gigi Speer, FCRH ’22, and Kelly Bright, FCRH ’22, also leveraged their experience working at WFUV to start their show “Killing the Game,” which focuses on the experience of being a student-athlete in college. 

Speer said she and Bright wanted to carve out a new niche in the endless stream of podcasts available on streaming platforms. “We were just kind of thinking about what people hadn’t done already,” said Speer. “I feel like there really isn’t anything out there that centers around the student-athlete experience.”

Speer said, “Killing the Game” was something she would have loved to listen to as a high school student looking to continue her athletic career into college. Now, she and Bright, who both play for Fordham’s softball team, have created a new resource for anyone interested to get an inside look at the experiences of student-athletes. 

Episodes focus on different facets of student-athlete life, from balancing sports with schoolwork to leaving athletics behind post-graduation. Speer said her favorite episode so far was “The Pastime,” which explores how student-athletes find time to engage in hobbies outside of their sport. Speer said the show is on a temporary hiatus while she and Bright compete in their softball season but that interested listeners should look for new episodes starting at the end of the spring semester. 

Vanessa DeJesus, FCRH ’22, said she is in the beginning stages of her own podcast. She was inspired to launch a show with her friend Marshall Nilsen who goes to another university, because of their love for discussing their favorite shows at great length. The podcast, which DeJesus plans to release this summer, is called “Off The Deep End,” and will feature DeJesus and Nilsen analyzing episodes of “Westworld.” 

“I’m an English major, so I overanalyze literally every day for a grade,” joked DeJesus. “Doing it for fun kind of hones my skills and lets me revisit something that I love.”

DeJesus said she wants to eventually release podcast episodes in tandem with episodes of the fourth season of the “Westworld,” which will air in 2022. 

All of the Fordham podcasters emphasized the challenge of balancing a full course load with recording and editing episodes of their shows on the side. DiFiore said he and Cohen worked to create a backlog of episodes over winter break to give themselves a cushion when their school work becomes extra stressful. DeJesus said she and Nilsen plan to take a similar approach with their show. 

DiFiore also stressed the importance of learning from early mistakes in order to produce more enjoyable and higher quality podcast episodes. He said going back and listening to their first episodes has helped him and Cohen hone their skills and learn as they go. He emphasized the importance of taking the time to grow and not quitting before you have the chance to really hit your stride as a podcaster.

“If you’re enjoying it, if you like doing it, you will get better at it,” said DiFiore. 

Breen said the challenges that come with creating his podcast are worth it for the positive feedback he has received from friends and strangers who have listened to his podcast over the last year. “The fact that anyone wants to hear what I have to say amazes me every time I post the podcast,” he said. “I so appreciate that.”  

In terms of producing quality content, DeJesus said she has learned that using quality sound equipment is key. “There’s nothing worse than having phone call audio,” she said. “It’s a big pet peeve of mine when you hear static and feedback when you listen to a podcast.” 

DeJesus recommends investing in a high-quality microphone to ensure that recordings are of good quality and enjoyable for listeners. 

Speer said she would encourage any Fordham student considering creating their own podcast to go for it. Just be sure to delegate responsibilities earlier on if you’re planning on working with a friend, she advised. “You wouldn’t want your relationship with that person to be ruined because you felt they dropped the ball or because you feel you can’t work with them,” said Speer. 

Speer also suggested students interested in podcasting look for ways to find a unique voice and angle for their projects. 

“You can’t really escape that there are so many podcasts out there already, so there might be overlap with an existing one,” said Speer. “But if you can find a way to make it special and make it your own, I think it just makes the whole process easier and helps you start to grow your audience.”