Student Profile: Chris Vasquez

English Literature & Language Major and Podcaster

Student & podcaster Chris Vasquez sits at his computer desk wearing headphones and looking at the camera. Also in the room is his prop skeleton Bernie, wearing a baseball cap and seemingly talking into a desktop microphone.

Chris Vasquez and Bernie, a silent co-host at Storyteller Casts

The first video posted to the Storyteller Casts YouTube channel introduces the podcast:

Welcome to Storyteller Casts YouTube channel. I’m Chris, the editor and one of the voices of the podcast. The Storyteller Casts consists of two shows: Life and Narrative. Life is a roundtable discussion between the members of the Storyteller Casts. We each tell a story from our experiences in life, and the rest is just whatever happens to come to our minds. Narrative is the real meat of the Storyteller Casts. There, we take submitted pieces of fiction and read them aloud. Anyone can submit a story or even a recording of you reading your own story, if you so choose. This podcast was made as a way to get people’s writings out there, so if you want to submit a story with full credit, send it to storytellercasts@gmail.com. That’s Storyteller Casts – “Casts” with an “s” at the end – at gmail dot com. We post an episode of Life and Narrative once a month, the last day of the month. You can find us here, Stitcher, and our ever-growing list of podcast outlets. Thanks for listening, and I’m looking forward to reading your stories.

The voice in this video is that of senior English Literature & Language major Chris Vasquez. Chris first started podcasting with his brother and a friend in high school as a way to have fun conversations, mostly about comics and graphic novels. In 2016, he started Storyteller Casts with his brother Nick and friend Ian as a way to perform and celebrate short fiction (the Narrative episodes) while also having informal, improvisational conversations (the Life and some other kinds of episodes, like movie discussions).

Chris says that his favorite podcasts have hosts who are naturally funny and just get into interesting conversations with each other, where the audience gets to feel “like a fly on the wall” but can also feel like part of the group. Life episodes live up to this ideal (depending, of course on your interests and sense of humor) as Chris, Nick, and Ian talk about their daily lives and dig into pop culture old and new. For example, a recent Life episode moved from the various iterations of Star Trek to Matlock to Heaven’s Gate in quick sequence, at some points referencing whether their grandparents would like them—and somehow, in context, it all made sense. It’s in the Narrative episodes, though, that the hosts’ experience in theater and Chris’ major in literature shine. Chris and his co-hosts solicit and select short fiction by friends, classmates, and strangers on the internet, and then perform the best stories in the tradition of radio dramas, voicing different characters and incorporating sound effects and music.

Chris does all of the production and editing for Storyteller Casts, and what he’s learned as an English Literature & Language major has contributed to his ability to do this work. While Chris has turned to YouTube instructional videos to teach himself about the technical side of podcasting (like what kind of mic is most appropriate for the conditions in which they record, how to use the free/open-source and professional-grade software for recording and editing, and how to navigate all of the platforms he could publish the podcast to), his English courses have taught him to notice patterns and closely analyze texts. These skills help him to make choices about which short stories will translate best to audio, as well as about how characters should be voiced and how music and sound effects should be used in a piece. Literature courses have also taught him how to negotiate the question, “Why do I like this thing?” Chris believes that people’s favorite content, whether it’s a novel or a song, has flaws, and that people like certain media because of their flaws, not in spite of them.

While the major has shaped his thinking about the podcast, Chris also believes that the podcast has bled into his English classes. Because he has to be attentive to how the audio medium affects storytelling and narrative, Chris says that he “can see how certain aspects of a story would be lost if, for example, a video game weren’t a video game but something else, like a movie or a novel.” And this attention to medium—how being a video game shapes narrative and other possibilities of the newest AAA video game—is something that he sees as missing in a lot of discussions of media online.

Turning to the future, Chris wants to keep Storyteller Casts going and professionalize the operation: “I want this to be a regular show, and we’d love to get lots more submissions, expand the team, and get more people who can do voice work.” He also plans to open a LibSyn account (a paid podcast hosting service) once they can afford non-free hosting/streaming options. Chris thinks of himself, broadly, as a content creator, so while he will continue podcasting, he also wants to make things in other media. His work is shaped by a commitment to the fan perspective, to learning and sharing the professional perspective on specific media, and to keeping the tone friendly and funny. We are excited to see—and hear—what he creates next.

To listen to Storyteller Casts, visit their YouTube channel. If you have a short story you’d like to submit to be performed on a Narrative episode, email it to storytellercasts@gmail.com. And you can follow Chris on Twitter at @assuredlychris.