No one loves Lady Bird Johnson more than Laurie Grobe does.
“She is, without a doubt, one of the most incredible people to have ever walked the Earth,” Grobe said. “Oh, my God, I feel like I can spend the rest of my life learning about Lady Bird and things that she did and her life.”
As an intern for The Drag, Grobe, a rising senior and journalism major, has been able to talk to people like Lady Bird’s granddaughter, deep dive into her diaries and take adventures to Johnson family landmarks like the LBJ Ranch. It’s all for the upcoming “Lady Bird” podcast.
Grobe’s been researching all summer in order to answer the question an upcoming Drag podcast aims to answer: Who exactly was Lady Bird?
“This podcast isn’t just about Lady Bird after she met Lyndon. It’s about Lady Bird’s entire life. And the way she grew up is also just super fascinating, because you can see how it affects all these incredible things she did later in her life,” said Grobe.
So far, learning about Lady Bird has been a formative experience for Grobe. Before starting work on the podcast, Grobe only knew basic information about Lady Bird, but the deeper they dove into the former first lady’s story, the bigger the impact Lady Bird had on them.
“Lady Bird is going to be a person, I think, I’m going to carry with me for the rest of my life. You write or find those stories and you’re like, ‘I’m never gonna forget about this, regardless of how big or small it is,;” said Grobe. “And Lady Bird is always going to be a story and a person I’m going to remember forever.”
For Grobe, the Lady Bird podcast wasn’t just a good way to put their museum studies certificate to good use or finally get to apply their love of research. For them, The Drag and Lady Bird were a newfound love for journalism.
After spending the past three years pouring their energy into The Daily Texan in the news department and, more recently, in the life and arts department, Grobe was tired. As a news and Title IX reporter, Grobe’s life was ruled by hard deadlines, stories about emotionally difficult topics and a global pandemic.
As a Title IX reporter, Grobe was doing a lot of in-depth reporting and focusing on telling stories with care. While Grobe said they felt like they did some of their best reporting, the more they wrote, the more tired they became and the more their passion for journalism fell away.
“I was getting really burnt out on print journalism, which is not good, because I’d gone into this like, ‘Oh, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life,’ and then in my junior year of college, I’m like, ‘Wow, I don’t want to do this,’” Grobe said.
Grobe was ready to quit journalism until The Drag opened up internship applications, and they saw an opportunity to fall in love with journalism again.
“I really wanted to work at The Drag, I think, because I thought it would just be something different for me to do. Like, kind of giving journalism one last shot and maybe trying to move away from hard news, towards more lifestyle, or just not things that were terribly depressing stories all the time,” Grobe said.
Grobe wasn’t sure what The Drag had in store for them when they landed the internship and was expecting the same environment they had always known.
“Starting work at The Drag, I was kind of expecting something very similar, very structured, very hard deadlines, feeling like the clock is always ticking,” Grobe said. “And then I got here, it was so different. It was just an indescribable relief to learn that there was more to journalism outside deadline writing.”
Grobe has learned a lot this summer.
They’ve learned enough about Lady Bird to probably win a trivia contest about her, and enough about journalism to keep pursuing it.
“In journalism, it’s not just writing stories and interviewing people and editing them. It can also be researching. It can also be running social media. It doesn’t always have to be hard news,” Grobe said. “Hard news is not the only fulfilling work in the world. But there are ways that you can tell the truth and tell people’s stories and help people without doing the thing that everyone thinks journalism is.”
However, the most important lesson Grobe learned is something they couldn’t research or report on. Grobe learned about what makes them the happiest and that, as a journalist, they don’t have to sacrifice happiness for a career.
“I don’t have to ever worry about feeling stuck in something or doing something that I don’t want to do, because I will be able to move on and find something worth it,” Grobe said. “I feel like any career, any industry in the world, it is never just one thing. There’s always a multitude of ways that you can work in a certain industry in a certain place.”