In fall, 2015, Professor Christen Madrazo introduced her creative nonfiction workshop students to several popular storytelling platforms with the following caveat: the genre was sorely missing the voices and stories of our city's vastly diverse young people. "Let's fill that gap!" she said. While she’d secretly hoped that they'd be as excited as she was to archive their truths and better represent whole bodies of people’s lived experiences, she never imagined they’d take it this far! Though the project is largely student-produced, Madrazo directs production and handles the story text editing process with each writer; helps to arrange collectively-curated story selections for episodes; and operates as the in-studio director for all story and interview raw recording sessions. In the past several semesters, she's expanded the podcast work to other nonfiction courses (including a self-designed "Travel Writing: Storytelling in Tanzania" workshop course she taught on-location) as well as in her Research Writing courses, in which her students now practice developing research inquiries based on contemporary social issues reflected in real life stories. Her work on Life Out Loud recently led, in part, to her winning the 2016 John Jay College Distinguished Teaching Award and the 2017 Service to Students Award. When not in the recording studio or in a writing workshop, Christen can be found directing John Jay’s award-winningWriting Program; curating a live travel storytelling series; or facilitating storytelling workshops around the world with DAT, an international service arts organization with whom she has designed and implemented storytelling workshops in more than 32 communities on four continents. Her own original work has been shared at the Renegade Reading Series, Projective Spaces, New World Stages, and in The Shakespeare Bulletin, a performance journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Digital Art Director:
As one of the original founding members, Samuel Tapia volunteered to be the podcast's web developer, and soon realized that this would become one of his most ambitious passion projects. Sam has been at the studio since day one, and has ran the soundboard multiple times, as well as sound edited numerous stories and episodes from all seasons. His own story "WWMD", a quirky tale that takes place during a backpacking trip in Mexico with his girlfriend Lau (an honorary Life Out Loud member), can be heard on episode 1.4 "En Route." "WWMD" was also shared live at Travelogue at the New World Stages' Tony Lounge. During his last year at John Jay, Sam was part of an Independent Study that allowed him to create all the promotional content for Life Out Loud. Sam has a passion for the arts, specifically story telling, whether it's written, visual, or audio. His photograph of the "Orbs" has become Life Out Loud's most recognizable image. Sam graduated John Jay in the spring of 2016 with a degree in International Criminal Justice. He is currently working on a photography series about the children of Mexican immigrants living in New York City. Outside of Life Out Loud, Sam can be found creating the dankest of memes, and going after the longest road card in Settlers of Catan.
Digital Sound Director:
Velislava Bozhinova is one of the original founding members of Life Out Loud. In addition to running sound board, conducting sound editing, and designing underscoring, as the podcast's Digital Sound Director, one of Velislava's main jobs is to train others to edit, underscore, and run sound, too, so that the podcast has lots of helping hands working seamlessly together in order to produce a full episode; team work makes the dream work! As the Digital Sound Director for Life Out Loud, Velislava is also responsible for managing, delegating, and scheduling all of the work that happens on the raw recording tracks. She then compiles all the edited pieces; produces the full episode for review; and conducts all final sound editing on each version of the "final" product before it's launched on iTunes; sound cloud; the website; or on RADio568. Her personal passion is underscoring design, an idea that she initiated and developed here at Life Out Loud. Her own underscoring work can be heard in stories such as The Rabbit, In the Dark, and many more. When not behind the scenes, Velislava also shares her own work from time to time, such as “On the Run," featured in episode 1.2 “Our Father.” In the past year she has taken one Independent Study and one Faculty Mentored Research Group for the podcast during which time she teamed up with beautiful people to create beautiful work for Life Out Loud. When not in the studio or editing one of at least 17 of these incredible stories, Velislava--as a double major--can be found in a Political Science or Economics classroom or spending time with her three kids – a cat, a parrot, and a hermit crab. She’d like to thank her Life Out Loud family for their great work, passion and dedication. She couldn’t ask for a better team!
Social Media Director; Episode Script Coordinator; Production Team Member:
In a world of cat people and dog people, Karen Argueta considers herself more of a bird person. Lover of manatees and seasoned feeler of the feels, Karen has been hosting for Life Out Loud since the Spring of 2016 and never wants to stop. Seriously, she won't leave. This is her 4th consecutive month camping out in the studio. A testament to this is the fact that Karen has taken part in hosting every single episode for the podcast since the second episode ever. She also writes episode scripts; coordinates with the other script and interview writers, and has taken to sound editing stories and interviews despite technology's seemingly fierce determination to work against her. Karen also runs the official 'Life Out Loud' Facebook and Instagram (@lifeoutloudpodcast) pages. Born in El Salvador, Karen is an escapee from Long Island to beautiful Harlem, and she wants nothing more than to thrive and die in New York City. As a Criminology major and Gender Studies minor, getting to learn about the inner (and outer!) workings of the people that inhabit this world is the blessing she treasures the most. Her work with storytelling is an organic extension of this work. Karen also has a budding passion for teaching that she discovered while serving as Secretary of John Jay's Mock Trial Association, as well as a fire for speaking out against injustice. You can frequently find her in ice cream shops or on bridges despite her fear of heights. She hopes this speaks volumes about who she is as a human.
Digital Studio Consultant; Production Team Member:
Riley Linares is a newbie to Life Out Loud. She joined at the start of the Spring 2017 Semester as Life Out Loud’s first ever first- year student. When taking English 101 with Professor Madrazo, a course which required Riley to listen to many of the beautiful Life Out Loud stories for research project inspiration, she was inspired to get involved. She now assists with sound editing, underscoring, and soundboard. You can hear her first editing and underscoring work on episode 2.8 “Found in Translation.” Riley has a true passion for telling stories and helping others share theirs. The Life Out Loud studio has become her home away from home. Attending John Jay as an out of state student from Michigan, Riley is happy to have the Life Out Loud group as her family in New York and thanks them for being so warm and welcoming and for painting a hard to remove smile across her face every week.
Advertising Design and Strategy Coordinator; Production Team Member:
Rebecca Singh jumped into Life Out Loud in the spring of 2017 after taking a CNF writing class the semester before. The stories told in the class were unique, revealing, awe inspiriting, and, most importantly, true. While her passion, hobby, and dream job remains with fantasy writing, Rebecca found herself easily at home surrounded by CNF writing while working with Life Out Loud. She quickly learned how to sound edit and underscore pieces and hosted a few episodes. Among others, Rebecca edited and underscored “The Royal and the Peasant,” “Veritas Aequitas,” and “Stains.” She hosted a few episodes starting in the second season when she joined. Currently, Rebecca is working to help Life Out Loud’s publicity by having created and by spearheading the weekly LoL highlights campaign. Outside of Life Out Loud, Rebecca is pursuing a dual BA/MA degree in Forensic Psychology. She has plans of going to law school afterwards, but is unsure of where that will lead her. During her time away from school, Rebecca finds herself working on fiction pieces that she one day hopes to string together to create a book series, participating in Church as a singer and a rookie preacher, and trying to be her best for the best. Rebecca will forever be grateful for the opportunity given to her by the Life Out Loud family to practice new skills and to help share all these wonderful and beautiful true stories.
Performance Rehearsal Director; Production Team Member:
Sadie is a junior at JohnJay college majoring in English. She started out as a forensic psychology major but Professor Madrazo’s English 101 class inspired her to switch to English. Sadie is originally from China but grew up in New York City. In her spare time, you can find Sadie rushing a Broadway show for cheap tickets or at Lincoln Center seeing the ballet on a student discount. Sadie is a voracious reader who always has her nose buried in a book. She is an aspiring writer who writes best under pressure right before a deadline.
Digital Studio Manager:
Deja is a junior majoring in English and minoring in Film Studies. She switched her major from Forensic Psychology when she realized her love and passion for storytelling. Though she helps out in many capacities for Life Out Loud, you're mostly likely to find her behind the sound board. She wants to someday become a director or screenwriter and also hopes to collaborate with some of her favorite artists to create music videos. When she’s isn’t studying, she’s listening to some of her favorite artists: Travis Scott, Billie Eilish, James Blake, Nicki Minaj, and H.E.R. She loves making YouTube videos, playing video games, hanging out with her family, and changing her hair color every week.
Digital Art Assistant:
A New York City native, Brianna Harrell is a 21 year old studying Forensic Science at John Jay. Where science and art collides is where Brianna resides - in the lab performing an experiment or working with PR/Marketing in Snug Harbor. When Brianna isn't writing, procrastinating work or singing her head off, she can be found binge-watching her favorite television shows, attending concerts or snuggling up to a really great book with hot cocoa on the side. After graduating college she hopes to find herself in grad school, in a job she loves, occasionally traveling to different parts of the world or a mix of the three.
Production Team Member:
Evelyn Rodriguez first joined the Life Out Loud Podcast in 2019, when two of her stories were produced on the show. After taking Professor Madrazo’s Creative Non-Fiction course, she was excited to take part in the production side of the podcast. She will graduate from John Jay with a Bachelors’s in English, and she plans on pursuing her master’s degree in either Journalism or Creative Writing. Once the pandemic is over and NYC comes back in full bloom, Evelyn plans on spending her days and nights roaming the streets, discovering hidden gems, trying new food, making new friends, and falling more in love with the city she loves the most. She hopes her future adventures will inspire her to write new stories. Evelyn loves the fall season and hopes to one day take a road trip to Salem, Massachusetts, to have a spooky time there with her close friends. In the near future, Evelyn plans on getting a corgi and naming it Boba. She has big plans to go on many road trips with her future corgi and be happy always. If you ever lose sight of Evelyn, she will either be at the Strand bookstore or at Jacob’s Pickles, her favorite restaurant in the Upper West Side, eating some delicious bacon mac and cheese with some tasty strawberry jam jar cocktails!
Production Team Member:
Malaysia Knowles is a junior at John Jay College majoring in English. She started out majoring in Law and Society but switched when she recently rekindled her love for writing. Although she indulges in multiple tasks for the podcast such as hosting and sound editing, one of her main roles is assisting with performance rehearsals. She aspires to go to law school and eventually wants to pursue a career as an author. When Malaysia has free time, you can find her writing short stories or binge-watching the latest Netflix series. Although Malaysia is new to the Life Out Loud scene, she has come to admire the camaraderie that has been established and hopes to be a part of it permanently.
Production Team Member:
"Raymond Joseph "R.J." Calamito is a newcomer to the Life Out Loud Production Team joining the podcast behind the scenes for its 5th season. A senior at John Jay College, R.J. is a double major in both English and Forensic Psychology. Since he's quite tech-savvy, he will soon work as the Assistant Web Design Editor for the website, but he also sound edits, hosts, and writes new stories for the show. As someone on the Autism Spectrum, R.J. places an emphasis on communication and on the amplification of stories by those who are under-voiced.
Production Team Member:
Francesca Chery is a new member of the Life Out Loud podcast, joining during her senior year at John Jay College. She has had two stories accepted to the show and was recently featured on the first episode of the fifth season. She's also currently working on sound editing, hosting, and publicity for the show. From an early age, Francesca's passion for reading and writing has always come hand in hand, and it only grew during her college years as an English major and Criminology minor. When she isn’t analyzing literature books or studying crime and deviant behavior, Francesca has her nose pressed up against a heart racing psychological thriller and attempting to write swoon-worthy book boyfriends. With all the time she spends reading, writing, and being engaged in her community’s social justice issues, she hopes to become the most effective advocate for change as a defense attorney.
Production Team Member:
Kayla Lee is a new member of the Life Out Loud podcast, joining during the fifth season of the show. She is currently a freshman at John Jay College, who is majoring in Criminal Justice and plans to minor in English. Kayla helps on the show by hosting, sound editing, and web updating but hopes to eventually have her own work featured on the show, too. She’s planning on attending law school to eventually pursue a career as a criminal lawyer. She discovered her interest in writing after taking Professor Madrazo’s English 101 class, where she wrote her first story. In her free time, you can find her nose deep in a book or discovering new foods on the streets of New York.
Production Team Member:
Alishba Ehmed is a new addition to the Life Out Loud podcast. As a freshman at John Jay College, Alishba is majoring in Criminal Justice Management and plans to minor in Psychology. She was invited to join the show after taking Professor Madrazo's English 101 class, from which her Creative Non-Fiction essay was turned into a story shared on episode 5.2 Found Out. As a new team member, Alishba assists in multiple production areas including hosting episodes and writing interview questions, but some of her specific tasks are to assist with sound editing and publicity. During her free time, Alishba enjoys escaping into fictional worlds through books or Netflix series and finding time to paint with her brother on the weekends.
Production Team Member:
Sam Stoothoff is a recent addition to the Life Out Loud podcast family. He's currently a sophomore at John Jay College who's majoring in English with the hopes of becoming a professional writer. As a new addition, he is currently providing help in various areas, from audio production to hosting. He someday might also submit some of his own work if he works up the gumption! In his free time he enjoys watching soccer, walking around Bushwick, and parenting two happy, healthy cats.