Podcasting is a growing form of storytelling through which people can share stories online. Anyone and everyone is allowed a voice, so long as they have a microphone, internet connection and compelling content.
Two Plano residents are adding their voices to the podcast world, sharing “stories inside Plano and just outside of what you might expect.”
The “on-air hangout,” Plano Podcast, is hosted by Mary Jacobs and Tammy Hooker.
About once a month, they produce about a half-hour of curious tales from the pockets of Plano. They record the show at Hooker’s home, in her college son’s bedroom.
Hooker compared their humble studio to a garage band.
“It’s like two older women who have taken over their kid’s room rather than stand out in the garage with a microphone,” she said.
Hooker and Jacobs met during the 2013-14 Leadership Plano class, which initiated the inaugural TEDxPlano event. The pair referenced TEDxPlano as a crash course for their current podcast venture.
Jacobs moved to Plano in 2009 after living in University Park for 20 years. In all those years, she said jokingly, she always heard, “[Plano’s] really clean. It’s really safe. The houses are not every expensive. Everything’s new, it’s nice. But it has no soul.”
Once she moved to the area, “I did not find that to be true, so I felt like there’s a story there that’s not getting told,” she said.
About once a month, each episode of Plano Podcast attempts to answer the questions: “What’s the reason people choose Plano? What’s making us Plano?”, Jacobs said.
Each of their interviews has involved an individual who is leading Plano, coming up with new ideas and driving the culture of the city. Since they both work independently, Jacobs and Hooker have the creative control to be edgy, fearless and unrestrained.
“We’re trying to get to people that are on the beaten path in Plano and off. I would love it if you went to the grocery store and looked at the person next to you and went, ‘I wonder what your story really is.’”
There are 11 episodes of Plano Podcast so far, with stories of haunted spaces in Plano, the Top Achievers Program and Foundation and fashion trends of professional men in Plano.
They have two more podcasts set for the year, one in which they’re looking back 20 years and learning about those instrumental in ending the heroin crisis in Plano.
As an avid podcast listener, Hooker said she thought it important to tell Plano’s stories to help businesses, residents and the newest additions get “…a feeling of attachment to the city,” she said.
“There’s no better way than hearing the person’s voice that’s helping to put a thumbprint on the culture of the city.”
Their setup is humble: a small table, three chairs, a microphone and GarageBand. They wear several hats to start.
Jacobs does most of the scripting and story production, and Hooker handles the technical and marketing sides, uploading the podcast to Soundcloud, iTunes, Facebook, Twitter and its main website, planopodcast.com.
Both work full time, so they conduct the podcasts in their free time. They’re still in a building process, but with each podcast, they’re learning more about their neighbors and potential community stories.
“There’s people that have made history right here, previously and right now, that sometimes we just don’t have a way to hear their voice,” Hooker said.
“I think that Plano’s a lot more interesting than you might guess,” Jacobs said. “It’s got more interesting characters, more curious tales going on than you might guess. Got a lot more history than I would’ve guessed.”
Hooker said, “I would like for someone, if they listen to the podcast, to feel proud of being here… I don’t want people to think [Plano] is minivans and women in velour track suits. It’s really important for us all to be attached.”