Local teen broadcasts herself

Sydnie Collins, 15, records her podcast, Perfect Timing, which is distributed through Elite Conversations Life Talk Radio & Podcast.

A local teen is using her time at home to broadcast herself and give a voice to the youth in the community, hosting the likes of school valedictorians, student-athletes and fine arts students, through a podcast that has seen success throughout its first few episodes.

Sydnie Collins, 15, a sophomore at St. Mary’s Ryken High School, said at the beginning of the quarantine mandated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, her mother, Yvette Collins, proposed ideas to keep her and her sibling busy. Those included either a podcast or a YouTube channel, with Sydnie choosing the former and coming up with the name for the podcast, Perfect Timing.

{p class=”p1”}”We had no clue where to start, but we knew that it was going to go somewhere,” Sydnie said. “What I did know was that I wanted to give the youth a voice in the community.”

{p class=”p1”}Yvette said her goal was to expose her children to new opportunities and use the time during the pandemic to do something that would be positive and helpful to themselves and others. She said Sydnie was used to structure and decided to do the podcast in order to preserve the structure and spend time doing something constructive.

In finding a platform to broadcast, Yvette was referred to Elite Conversations Life Talk Radio & Podcast by a close friend, contacting CEO Darrell Spears in late May about the idea of the podcast. Yvette said Sydnie wanted to serve other youth and teens by using this platform to allow them to pitch initiatives and discuss accomplishments, dreams and other noteworthy topics. The first episode of the podcast aired June 8.

“We know that most youth use social media to be informed of what’s going on in the news,” Yvette said. “So Sydnie will use social media to see what is buzzing and I use the cable news to help build her topics for discussions.”

Sydnie said she attempts to keep the topics discussed on her podcast diverse, so it does not seem repetitive. Fortunately for her, the guests she has had thus far have had a good range in age and conversations, especially with the stories they have shared.

“Usually, I like to talk about what inspires people to do what they do for their community, current events, advice/encouraging topics, lifestyle, adversities [from the guests’ perspective], hardships and achievements,” Sydnie said. “Each interview is so individualized, which is why it is exciting to hear their stories.”

Sydnie said the guests on her podcast are typically youth, teens or young adults, in order to provide a better connection on an intimate level. She said she has found most of her guests through social media, reviewing their initiatives and seeing how they impact the community. The guest is contacted and formally invited and given a layout to how the show is produced and information required for a successful show.

“I directly want to appeal to my age group and young adults so that we can campaign together to learn and make a difference,” Sydnie said. “However, my podcast is open to everyone because I wish to open the eyes and ears of people who do not feel they have a voice and to give them a platform to use and inspire them to build their confidence.”

In her eighth and most recent episode, which aired July 27, she was joined by Dr. Howard Haft, executive director of the primary care program at the Maryland Department of Health, to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on teens and to raise awareness about the severity of it.

”I enjoyed having him on because it taught me and many of the listeners things about the virus that could help give us a better understanding,” Sydnie said of Haft. The meeting was organized by Yvette, who reached out to the Charles County Health Department on Sydnie’s behalf to extend an invitation to a health official for an appearance on the episode.

“Dr. Haft expressed the importance of disseminating health information to teens and stated that he was very proud of Sydnie for using her platform to bring awareness to COVID while living as a teenager,” Yvette said.

In order to promote the podcast, Sydnie and Yvette share links along with a promotional flyer of the guest and Sydnie herself to let the listeners know what to expect. Sydnie said social media is a huge part of how she is promoting her podcast and has sent several emails to big networks with the hopes of securing an interview to let people know a 15-year-old podcaster is making a difference in the community.

”I hope doing this podcast will help me and other youth to develop the social skills we’ll need as adults. This platform is allowing us to be our own advocates for our initiatives,” Sydnie said. “All in all, I’m noticing how this podcast is helping to mold my character to the person I want to become and I’m optimistic that this experience will continue to do that for me over time.”

Yvette noted some of the difficulties in helping run a podcast, including time management and the cost required for producing a successful episode. She said Sydnie would love to have a centralized location that housed all the Perfect Timing podcast information, which would help solicit sponsorship and how potential guests can apply. She also said it is difficult to respond to all of the feedback Sydnie is getting through social media in reference to her podcast.

Difficulties Sydnie noted included being able to honor guest’s requests due to receiving information late, however she has not experienced many challenges thus far. Another challenge, she said, is a guest not bringing the energy that is needed for a successful conversation, as her job as the host is to help push the conversation along seamlessly.

”The last thing consumers of my podcast want to hear is someone not in tune to the conversation at all and they have a monotone way of talking with no particular dialect and attitude,” Sydnie said.

That attitude has certainly led to success for the podcast. On Tuesday’s Elite Conversations Podcast host community monthly meet-up, Sydnie’s second episode was recognized as the second highest out of 24 different podcasts in the broadcasting service throughout the month of July, signaling her popularity taking off and cementing respect among her peers.

“Seeing my daughter and other young people take part in activism and their initiatives in the community and world gives my heart joy,” Yvette said. “I am honored to see them standing on each other’s shoulders and having the courage to have the intimate conversations about their challenges is impactful to everyone.”

Yvette said she believes there is enough room for all youth who have initiatives to get involved in the same activities. She said she has always been the example that she wanted her children to see and wants them to show support to all that may follow their footsteps.

Sydnie’s goal for the podcast is to have a huge community that can find at least one episode they can relate to.

“My short-term goal for this podcast is to open doors for youth like me to have a seat at the table and feel free without feeling judged. My mid-term goal is to open opportunities where I can provide mentorship to other youth who would like to become a podcast host,” Sydnie said. “My long-term goal is that this platform will make an impact where the people in our community will support youth initiatives and allow our voices to be a part of discussions that affect our future.”

Sydnie said people can support by actively promoting her podcast on social media, as she and Yvette are currently seeking sponsorship to offset the cost to promote episodes. The next episode of Perfect Timing is scheduled to air Aug. 3 at 2 p.m., and will feature 15-year-old viola/violin player and ballet dancer James Jobson-Larkin, speaking on the importance of music and arts from a young black male perspective.

Twitter: @RyanSoMdNews

Twitter: @RyanSoMdNews