If you are one of the 100 million people who listened to a podcast while stuck at home during COVID, you are not alone. The medium’s popularity has grown exponentially and industry experts anticipate the number of listeners to exceed 125 million by next year.
While you don’t need to be a sound engineer to launch your own podcast, it does take commitment and dedication to expand your listener base and produce interesting content. And that’s exactly what rising Armonk-based 8th grader Anika Bobra did during the pandemic. Launched in December 2020, Bobra’s weekly podcast titled “Today I Am Grateful” focuses on leaders in various fields from education to medicine to non-profits. She interviews one per episode and has had notable guests such as County Executive George Latimer, Senator Shelley Mayer as well as President and CEO of White Plains Hospital Susan Fox.
Bobra asks these community leaders how they have faced the challenges of the pandemic and what they have learned by living through it. She has also profiled many hyperlocal leaders such as Leisa Palmer, a former teacher of Bobra at Wampus Elementary School, District Superintendent Jen Lamia and Peter Simonsen, Police Chief in Armonk. Lamia’s podcast was one of Bobra’s most popular episodes as was the one featuring Christina Brisson, affectionately dubbed the Vax Fairy.
As a student at Random Farms Theater Group, Bobra honed her public speaking skills. “I love to use my voice and I thought a podcast would be a great way to highlight and honor members of our community and share their extraordinary stories,” says Bobra. Bobra credits New York Times bestselling author Gretchen Rubin’s “Happier” podcast as a key influence on her as she conceptualized her own podcast.
A lot of frontline workers were interviewed on Bobra’s podcast and she was keenly aware of having diverse voices represented. While doctors and nurses were interviewed, she also sought out other perspectives such as that of Mr. John DeCicco owner of DeCicco and Sons grocery stores which went above and beyond at keeping both their customers and employees safe during the pandemic.
Bobra estimates that she spends about two to three hours researching a potential guest, an hour editing the interview and then uploading it into a short podcast that averages eight to 10 minutes. With help from her parents, Bobra researched different platforms on Spotify and ultimately decided on Anchor. Her podcast streams on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts. In terms of equipment, Bobra’s set up is pretty basic–a school laptop, microphone and Zoom to conduct the interviews.
The concept of gratitude was instilled in Bobra at an early age. Her parents who are both doctors have always emphasized that the secret for happiness is gratitude and appreciating everything you have instead of what you don’t. “You are never too young to be grateful,” notes Bobra.
Bobra believes that her sense of gratitude for these community leaders comes across in her initial communications with a potential guest and has helped her secure influential guests.
Asked if she is an aspiring journalist, Bobra is undecided but she has found it very rewarding to interview people from different career paths. To date, she found the interviews with Senator Mayer and Sheila Patel, CEO of vegan skincare line Graffiti Collective to be her favorites and she has plans on the horizon to interview sources from outside the US as “gratitude is a universal feeling.”
When she’s not out playing on the tennis courts, scheduling interviews or editing her podcast, Bobra has plans on starting an Instagram page for her podcast this summer and possibly a book. With her youthful energy and passion for promoting positivity, Bobra is set to turn all her dreams into reality.
Bobra’s podcast is available on: