For the past three months, “Request Pending” host Sara Schleede cultivated a weekly podcast exploring the internet’s most unique communities. With the single click of a button on Friday afternoon, it all came to an end.
The last episode of season one was finally published.
“I’m really excited for this episode,” Schleede said. “I think it’s ended up being one of my favorites.”
Titled “Quarantine’s a drag,” the finale explored how drag queens and kings adapted to the pandemic. Schleede interviewed drag artists from across the country, including one drag queen all the way in Anchorage, Alaska.
With the release of “Quarantine’s a drag,” Schleede, free from the fast-paced weekly production schedule, had time to reflect on her summer’s work and how much it shaped her.
She learned about the importance of audio editing and high production value. She evolved as an audio reporter and learned how to write scripts for 30-minute episodes, a drastic change from the audio stories she used to produce for the University of Texas at Austin student newspaper, The Daily Texan.
“This is my first time doing a scripted podcast like this,” Schleede said. “I feel like the things I did for the Texan were very radio-y and short. I didn’t know I could write this many words into one story.”
The finale was no exception to Schleede’s development as a podcaster. While editing the episode, she learned a new trick to fix high peaks in an audio file.
Schleede also discovered more about herself as a reporter and realized the values she wants to uphold. She doesn’t want to use sources as means to an end.
“I want them to know that I’m not just going to forget about them, that I really value their time and their being willing to give a piece of themselves to me,” Schleede said.
Schleede hopes to take these skills to her next endeavor, “American Bloodline,” a podcast featuring Interstate 35. She originally planned to drive the entirety of the highway this past summer for the podcast. However, the pandemic put the road trip on hold, and “Request Pending” was born.
“I am really grateful for this roadblock in a way because I don’t think that ‘American Bloodline’ would have been as good as it will be now that I’ve had the experience of ‘Request Pending,’” Schleede said.
Now that Schleede is working on a new podcast, she’ll be passing off “Request Pending” to students in the Media Innovations Capstone course. These students will have the opportunity to build upon Schleede’s audio storytelling and develop the next season. Perhaps, they, too, will pick up a skill or two along the way.