When the outcomes of COVID-19 started taking a toll on sports media jobs, UNL students Megan Cook and Hailey Ryerson took it upon themselves to start a podcast to address this issue.
Cook, hospitality, restaurant and tourism management major, and Ryerson, sports media and communication and broadcasting double major, established their podcast “Small Town Girls” in August 2020 through Spotify and Apple Podcasts. They have also partnered with Sports As A Job, a company that offers support for current and aspiring sports industry professionals.
“We wanted to start a podcast that primarily highlights powerful women in sports, and in any profession, so that their stories can be told,” Ryerson said. “We think it can help listeners relate to it and learn to grow.”
Cook and Ryerson met in their Introduction to Sports Media and Communication class, where they partnered on a project to create a podcast. That is where they said they came up with the name “Small Town Girls.”
“We’re both from small towns and we’re both girls, so ‘Small Town Girls’ made sense,” Cook said. “Back then it was just something we had to present to our class, but when the pandemic hit, we thought it would be a great way to hone our talking abilities and to meet people who are working in the field we want to be in.”
Although it’s only been a few months, “Small Town Girls” finished the first season with a total of eight episodes ranging between 15-30 minutes each. The second season has started and they released one episode, with new episodes coming out every other Friday.
Although the podcast has been a success, Cook and Ryerson said they have encountered some challenges along the way.
“When we started the podcast, we didn’t realize how much in-depth detail it takes to have a successful one. Learning the equipment was a whole new aspect that we had no idea about,” Cook said.
Cook and Ryerson said that finding guests to bring every week was also a problem they faced. Ryerson said that being flexible, especially when the guests don’t show up, was something they learned to do as they progressed.
“Aside from planning, we were also trying to manage our own personal lives as college students while recording episodes each week,” Ryerson said. “We had instances where we couldn’t put out our podcasts, and we just had to accept that we had other priorities, but we have really supportive listeners who understand how hectic our schedules are.”
Cook and Ryerson record their podcast at Andersen Hall in a recording booth, and they expressed their gratitude for being able to access the equipment provided by the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
“We’re thankful for all the opportunities. It truly is humbling because we started out from nothing and now we’re kind of doing something,” Ryerson said. “Don’t ever limit yourself. If you set your mind to it, you can make it happen.”