Introducing ‘Lady Bird’

Photo courtesy LBJ Library

AUSTIN, Texas — On June 20, 2023, The Drag Audio Production House will release its newest podcast, Lady Bird,’” which explores the life and legacy of one of the most iconic Texas figures. 

To celebrate the release of the podcast, The Drag will host a launch party June 22 at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at 10 a.m. The event is free to attend, and just requires admission to the Wildflower Center. 

The Lady Bird podcast has been years in the making. The project first began in 2021 with the support of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation. Podcast host Jade Emerson, a 2023 journalism graduate, spent over a year interviewing Lady Bird Johnson’s family, friends and White House staffers. The podcast features the first couple’s daughter Luci Baines Johnson and their granddaughter Catherine Robb. Emerson also dug through about a hundred hours of unplayed audio in which Lady Bird herself told her life story. 

“Lady Bird has shown me what type of person I want to be,” Emerson said. “She’s been with me, through late nights and early mornings, as I’ve read countless books, reached out to sources, worked on scripts and recorded each episode. I’ve been with her in Austin, in East Texas, in Washington and in my apartment, just two blocks from her old house in West Campus. I’ve spent a year and a half of my life with her.”

Over the span of 12 episodes and multiple bonus episodes, “Lady Bird” will track the former First Lady’s upbringing in the wilds of small-town East Texas to her whirlwind romance with Lyndon B. Johnson. But at the heart of the story is Lady Bird’s commitment to people and to nature. You’ll hear about her time as a young woman on the campaign trail and as a congressional wife. Through tragedy and triumph, she raised a family while witnessing and participating in some of America’s biggest historical events. While in the White House, Lady Bird spearheaded the beautification program, an ambitious set of conservation efforts whose legacy still lives on today in the wildflowers along Texas highways and in environmental laws championed by Lady Bird during LBJ’s time in office. 

“Lady Bird met LBJ when she was 21 years old — the same age I was while working on this podcast. I know 21 is young, but there’s still a lot of life you live, experiences you have, and growth you go through by that age,” said Carly Rose, a 2023 journalism graduate who helped write and edit the podcast. “If I were to get married to a future president tomorrow, I wouldn’t want my life story up to this point to be forgotten to history. So I’m excited that our first two episodes tell the story of Lady Bird’s life before she got caught in LBJ’s whirlwind. And while Lady Bird was married to LBJ, she only became more confident, more vocal, and more influential. She had a gentle demeanor, but by no means did she sit idly by. Our final two episodes dive into Lady Bird’s life after LBJ’s death. She continued to use her platform to advocate for women and the environment, and she continued being her gracious, lovely, charming self, forming beautiful friendships late into her life. Lady Bird’s marriage to LBJ is an incredible, significant chapter in her life, but it’s not the only chapter worth listening to. For me personally, it’s been important to see that no relationship, no matter how historically significant, will ever fully define who you are. Lady Bird is the main character in her own story, and that’s the story we are telling.” 

The Drag’s researching and reporting on the project yielded enough content to produce multiple bonus episodes in addition to the 11 full-length ones. Bonus episodes range from a discussion about the love letters that Lady Bird and LBJ exchanged during their courtship to the effect of JFK’s assassination on Lady Bird, who witnessed it in real time. 

“Fans of history are going to love the podcast, but even people who generally skip historical documentaries will enjoy it because it’s mostly told through Lady Bird Johnson’s own eloquent words,” said Robert Quigley, founder of The Drag and an executive producer on the podcast. “Host Jade Emerson came from a small town in Texas to major in journalism at the University of Texas at Austin, just like Lady Bird. The magic of this podcast is that it feels like Lady Bird and Jade are co-hosts as they lead you through the former first lady’s fascinating life.”

The first episode of “Lady Bird” will be released on June 20, with a new episode coming every Tuesday. The June 22 launch party will feature a Q&A with the makers of the podcast, with special guests who appear in the story. The episodes will appear on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all major podcast platforms.

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