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Wrapping up a great year at The Drag

One of the best things about working at The Drag is that I never really know what’s going to happen in this job. If you’d told me a year ago that The Drag would be ending 2023 with 36 student workers, a program filled with 22 eager first-year students learning about audio and *five* new podcasts released this year alone, I probably would have fallen out of my chair.

I started at The Drag nearly three years ago, and each year has brought with it exciting changes and challenges, but none of them as big as this year’s. In the spring, The Drag’s founder Robert Quigley stepped aside and handed me the keys to what sometimes feels like a sportscar I never learned how to drive and other times feels like my dad’s old pickup truck, familiar and comfy and I know every nook and cranny of it. (Other times, it feels like a giant charter bus with the steering wheel thrown out the window, but that’s blessedly pretty rare.)

I’m endlessly grateful for another year at The Drag, made better by each one of those 58 (!) students I mentioned above. This year, we built out our first-ever student leadership team, providing me with invaluable help and providing those student leaders with opportunities to take on larger roles within the organization. It’s an absolute delight to watch them grow and thrive in these positions. 

This year brought with it a new season of “Darkness,” an important and heartbreaking look at the story of the shootings on UT’s campus in 1966 and the state of gun control and gun violence in schools over the course of the last five or so decades. Sara Kinney’s thoughtful, meticulous work on this project is vital, necessary and timely. Recent grad Peyton Sims brought us a new season of “Devilish Deeds,” which lovers of history and true crime will find compelling and surprising as it unravels the story of the Texarkana Phantom Killer. And, of course, there’s “Lady Bird,” an absolute behemoth of a project with 12 full episodes and seven bonuses, hosted by recent grad Jade Emerson. We also launched a partner podcast with the McCombs School of Business, called “McCombs Made,” expanding our footprint across campus and enabling us to work with more clients within the university.

We also launched our first-ever unscripted show, “Check Out This Podcast,” hosted by Quigley and yours truly. It’s been such a fun project and I can’t wait to continue working on it in 2024 and beyond.

We have many more projects coming for you in 2024 — many of which I can’t quite talk about yet, because they’re still cooking — but they all serve to further our mission of shaping the future of audio production. 

I’ve traveled to several conferences this year to learn new skills and techniques to bring back to our students. I’ve told the people I’ve met there about what The Drag does – that we’re the first and only full-scale audio production house on a university campus, with commercially successful podcasts and a team of more than two dozen students who get paid for their work — and their response is usually awe. 

None of it would be possible without many of the people who are reading this now: Listeners, donors, faculty, students and staff who support the work that we do each and every day.

If the work The Drag has done this year has impacted you in any way, please show your thanks to the students by making a donation. Even the smallest bit helps us further our work and provide invaluable hands-on experience to future journalists, producers, editors, hosts, graphic designers, marketers and industry leaders. 

Katey is the managing director of The Drag Audio, the first full-scale podcast production house on a college campus.

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