Ketchikan High School students are speaking out on a variety of topics through the newly created "Kayhi Cast," a podcast featuring second-year journalism students in Jeffrey Lund's class.
The podcast is available on the Kayhi Current website, as well as through Spotify. Kayhi seniors Avery Thomas, Hayley Gilson and Max Malouf were voices of the first episode, released this past week. The 15-minute episode covered a range of topics, namely summer jobs, senior traditions and TikTok trends.
Writing to the Daily News via email on Wednesday, Lund shared his thoughts about the project, which was an idea he had shared with his students — who were already working on their digital video editing skills in his class.
He proposed the idea to his second-year journalism students. Lund noted that follow-through is important for podcasting, which was a consideration when starting up the Kayhi Cast.
"I didn't want to have kids get really excited, do two episodes, then it goes away," he wrote. "So I needed a group that had good ideas and that I knew would make it a consistent part of how we report."
Along with Malouf, Thomas and Gilson, other second-year journalism students at Kayhi also are working on episodes with a goal of producing two episodes a month — one for each group.
Lund said that he trusted his group of students, as he knows "they want to bring value to the listeners and represent themselves well."
"I gave them a rough outline of things they could talk about if they wanted, and Avery (Thomas) came in during lunch asking for a copy of a Wall Street Journal article about TikTok algorithms and had a full page of notes the next day," Lund wrote. "Max and Hayley had a bunch of notes too. I knew for sure it was going to be good since they didn't have to do all that work, but chose to."
"I told them they could talk about whatever they wanted but to make sure whatever they covered was fairly discussed," he continued. "The only direction I gave them before they hit record was a lime green Post-It with 'Do No Harm' written on it which I put next to the recorder. You can always go back and edit something you've typed to provide context or make things more clear. In a podcast, you don't have that ability, so I wanted to make sure they didn't misrepresent themselves to an audience. They recorded without a script, edited, uploaded and that was it."
The Daily News also spoke to the student journalists via phone during their time in Lund's classroom about their experiences recording the episode.
"Mr. Lund kind of came to all the journalism II students and just as an idea, he asked us what we thought about it and if we'd want to do it, and how we want to do it," Max Malouf told the Daily News. "And we all just kind of brainstormed for basically just a couple days, and then just went for it."
Malouf said that the recording experience was "really smooth" — except for a portion of their first recording, where Thomas' microphone wasn't working properly, resulting in having to do it all again.
"I like just how, with my fellow seniors, we just got into a groove really fast," he said. "We just all clicked together and it was almost just like we were just talking to each other. I mean, it might seem intimidating to some kids with the mics and headsets in front of you, but after a couple minutes, I felt so comfortable. I didn't think that would happen, because I really just felt like a couple seniors talking about things in the school."
Malouf also said that he's received positive remarks from other Kayhi students and friends about his work on the episode.
"Even our principal emailed us after the weekend that he listened to it," Malouf noted.
Thomas said that the Kayhi Cast is one way that Lund gives his second-year students more freedom to try new things in the classroom.
"We discussed our summer jobs and the experiences that we had with the cruise ships coming in August and things like that, and we also talked about college and what our plans are, what we're excited for, and we talked about TikTok, and the pros and cons of that, and then we also talked about the storm that happened about two weeks ago and how that went," Thomas explained.
Thomas also echoed Malouf, saying that she felt at ease during the recording process.
"You know, usually I get nervous trying to think, and so as soon as we put those headphones on, and) those microphones on, and just talked for a couple minutes, I got really comfortable and it just felt like you were talking to your peers," Thomas said. "It was just really fun and comfortable overall."
"It was just really fun to do it with people that I know and people that I'm close to because, it's just more comfortable to speak with them," she added.
Hayley Gilson said it took a few practice runs to be successful on their third try, which was lightly edited and published as the final cut of the first episode.
"Once we put our headsets on and did the third time, it felt really relaxing, just talk(ing) to my friends, really," Gilson said.
Thomas' microphone had a problem picking up her voice during the students' first run at recording the episode. That cut, completed with a malfunctioning microphone in front of Thomas, was what Gilson highlighted as one of the biggest challenges, because it caused the students to have to record their work all over again.
"The mic didn't record off of Avery's, and we retook the whole thing," she said. "We narrowed down what we were saying because a lot of it was just redundant, we were talking about just the same things, so being able to re-record it made us realize what to be saying."
After a subsequent run, with Thomas' microphone functioning again, the episode was sliced down from 40 minutes to 15 minutes.
"The first one, we were just dragging on," Gilson said. "And after we did that, we didn't really have to edit that much. And so I just touched up a couple things and we sent it to the program we use and released it on Spotify."
Gilson said the podcast is an important way to keep the Kayhi student body informed, aside from the school's online newspaper, the Kayhi Current.
"I think I really like to inform people on what is going on," Gilson said. "I think that's very important to me, because I remember being a freshman and never knowing what was going on or what was interesting to people, and I guess I wouldn't read articles or anything like that. So now being into it, I realize how important is it for people to understand journalism, really. And of course the hard work that journalists put into it."