The next generation of podcasters will come from The Drag. We’re an audio production house built by students, professors and Moody College alums. We love long-form podcasts that guide listeners through a complex story and conversational podcasts that bring insights, humor and need-to-know information to listeners’ daily lives. And we want to help the media world figure this out, so we partner with on- and off-campus organizations to help and empower them to tell their stories.
The Drag is part of Texas Student Media, but its reach extends beyond campus. Our true crime series “Darkness” has charted in the top 20 of Apple Podcasts, in league with productions with full-time staffers and budgets 10 times the size of ours. Our production house is the first and only of its kind on a college campus, providing students with an unparalleled hands-on experience that paves the way for thriving careers in this high-demand field. Audio isn’t just for journalists. The world’s leading companies use podcasts as extensions of their marketing efforts. Those companies have C-suite executives who regularly appear as guests on podcasts. And audio is a valuable tool for advertisers — reports show over half of podcast listeners pay more attention to podcast ads than other types of advertising. And it’s not just audio. Our students are also working on graphic design, marketing and public relations projects.
From 2019 to 2023, The Drag expanded from three student staffers to more than 25. Two podcasts turned into more than a dozen in various phases of release and production.
“The Orange Tree” was our first podcast, released in July 2020. Since then, we renamed that podcast “Darkness” and turned it into a serialized true crime show, in which each season tells a different Texas-based true crime story. “Darkness” is now in its fourth season, and season five is in production. We also created a historical true crime spinoff podcast called “Devilish Deeds.” In total, we’ve released eight unique podcasts, several of which span multiple seasons. The result? Over 54 hours of audio content produced from July 2020 to August 2023.
It’s not just true crime — our narrative podcast “Lady Bird” uses never-before-heard recordings of Lady Bird Johnson to tell the former first lady’s life story. “Crooked Power” examines corruption and the free press in Latin America. “Planet Texas” examines climate change events in Texas and looks to the future with hope.
And there’s more coming. We’ve got eight podcasts in production as of August 2023. In future releases, we’ll look at criminal justice and public policy in Texas and ethical uses of artificial intelligence. We’ve even got an upcoming podcast that reviews other podcasts. It’s an experience students can’t get anywhere else, and it’s happening right here on campus.
We aren’t a typical team of audio storytellers. We’re professional staff, professors and students. Some of us didn’t know how to hold a shotgun mic when we started, while others edited audio in their closets all night. All of us love a good story and are passionate about podcasts. Looking to join? Fill out our participation form.
Katey Psencik Outka
Katey joined The Drag full-time in 2021 after working in newspapers, TV, digital media and nonprofit marketing. She also teaches podcasting and digital media classes in the Moody College of Communication. In her free time, Katey cheers on Austin FC and the Longhorns, listens to Taylor Swift and plays with her dogs.
Quigley founded The Drag in 2019 as a way to give students a chance to create compelling podcasts. He is the Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for the Moody College of Communication and a professor in the School of Journalism and Media. He spent 16 years as a journalist, mostly at the Austin American-Statesman.
Christian is the director for the DMN Journalism Innovation Endowment and an associate professor of practice in the School of Journalism and Media, teaching data, coding and digital media project classes.
2023-2024 STUDENT STAFF
Mackenzie Matwick, Partnerships Supervising Producer
Sofia Vargas Karam, Marketing and Communications Manager
Leni Steinhardt, Executive Producer
Heather Stewart, Executive Producer
Tamara Rodriguez, First-Year Program Coordinator
Claire Domenic-Smith, Administrative Manager
Sara Kinney, Producer and host of season four of “Darkness”
Talisa Trevino, Producer and host of future “Darkness” season
Firdous Khezrian, Host of “McCombs Made”
Mahlah Freeman, Host of “What It’s Like”
Rylie Lillibridge, Host and producer
Campbell Williams, Host and producer
Guido Peluffo, Producer and host of season two of the “Hi, How Are You” Podcast
Hasina Shah, Producer
Melody Jones, Producer
Jill Ament, Producer
Taryn Jones, Producer
Farhan Ahsan, Associate Producer
Walker Watson, Producer
May Ngan, Producer
Keana Saberi, Producer
SCRIPT & STORY
Corinne Piorkowski, Script editor
Lucy Melinger, Script editor
Rachel Joy Thomas, Reporting and research producer
Mirya Dila, Reporting and research producer
Ky Duffey, Reporting and research producer
SOUND DESIGN & AUDIO EDITING
MJ Tilton, Audio editor
Aislyn Gaddis, Audio editor
Aparna Patait, Audio editor
Jake Gripp, Audio editor
GRAPHIC DESIGN & MARKETING
Alexa Georgelos, Lead Graphic Designer
Evie Barnard, Graphic Designer
Cullen Scott, Graphic Designer
Emma Welty, PR/Marketing Producer
Garrett Bohannan, PR/Marketing Producer
FIRST-YEAR TRAINING PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS