Kennedy Johnson interviews a guest on the DawgTalk Podcast at George Walton Academy.

Thanks to COVID-19, students at George Walton Academy are having to deal with a series of new restrictions and regulations, including social distancing and wearing masks, which can make the simple act of just sitting next to a friend to share the latest hallway gossip a bit more complicated.

Thanks to GWA’s broadcast journalism class, however, students have a new option to get the latest info through the DawgTalk Podcast.

Although the entire class does it part, the main drivers of the podcast include Damaris Winters, Kennedy Johnson and Jico Manayala, who have produced several episodes to date focusing on a variety of topics of interest to the schoolhouse crowd.

“We were interested in finding ways to get people interested in the news,” Kennedy, a junior at GWA, said. “Well, we got a microphone and went into a room and soon enough we had a podcast.”

Kennedy has taken on the main hosting role for the podcast, especially with Damaris out due to quarantine at the moment. He and a guest share the latest information on the week’s topic, while Jico runs the soundboard and edits the conversation into the final result to place online for the entire school to sample.

“They’re usually about 10 to 18 minutes,” Jico, a senior at GWA, said. “We come up with the idea and Kennedy and a guest discuss it at length. They’re not scripted. They’re having a real conversation.”

Aside from guest hosts, the podcast will often bring in teachers or school administrators to add perspective to the conversation.

“We’ll talk about the topic,” Kennedy said. “Then we get a teacher or someone to come on and give a deeper look.”

Episode topics so far include COVID-19, homecoming scheduling and restrictions, social media usage and voting.

“We felt it was important right now to do an episode on voting, espeically since some of our students can vote in November’s election,” Kennedy said. “We’re not talking about who to vote for, just why people should vote this fall.”

The podcast began with a bit of simple equipment in a storage room, but now the DawgTalk Podcast has new sound equipment and software to produce a top-shelf product.

“I set up the audio, edit it together and make it flow,” Jico said.

So far, each episode has been listened to by more than 100 people.

“Some people have told us they really love it,” Kennedy said.

Both Kennedy and Jico said the podcast gives them valuable experience for the future.

“I want to go into sports journalism one day,” Kennedy said. “This helps me prepare for that.”

News Editor

Stephen Milligan is the news editor of The Walton Tribune. He lives in Monroe and is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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