TRAVERSE CITY — A group of teenagers gather at the Traverse Area District Library Woodmere Branch every other week to socialize.
There’s a wide range of personalities in the group, and they hail from different schools in the area. Their conversations are lighthearted, even goofy, more often than not. They talk about whatever comes to mind — school, pop culture, food, the Internet.
But there are times when the teens get serious. They discuss literature and their favorite authors, and politics occasionally make an appearance.
The only thing that sets these discussions apart from other social hours is the microphone positioned in front of them. The teens record their conversations and post them online as a podcast through the library, dubbed the TADLcast, every other week.
Lynnae Christensen, 15, is one of the podcast’s founding members. She said it’s been a good way to decompress and to meet other kids with similar interests.
“It’s fun to talk about things with certain people,” she said. “You learn a lot about them.”
The teens are in complete control of the podcast’s content and production. Teen Services Coordinator Linda Smith oversees the group and helps them navigate the microphone and recording software.
The shows ranged from 20 to 30 minutes when the program launched in January 2013. There were more kids with editing experience that were part of the group at the time, so they were able to cut out missteps and dead space before posting the finished product online.
The smaller group now tries to keep the podcasts short — three to five minutes — to reduce the need to edit. The result is streams of consciousness and candid dialogue between friends.
“You talk about what’s going on in your life,” Christensen said.
The program wasn’t created to be educational, but there’s a lot of learning going on alongside the chatter.