A 12-hour car ride and encouraging words from a professor inspired a UF student to launch her own music podcast.
Kara Williamson, a 21-year-old advertising senior, created “On Loop with Kara” in July. She’s uploaded 13 episodes on Spotify since the podcast’s initial launch date.
Most episodes feature Williamson discussing a specific artist and the songs she enjoys.
Williamson said she hopes the podcast will become popular and allow her to have conversations with the artists.
“Interviewing musicians is where I want to take the podcast and hopefully start traveling to interview them across the country or even the world, if possible,” Williamson said.
When in-person classes shifted to online in 2020, many UF students traveled back to campus to move out of their dorms or apartments.
Williamson drove down to Gainesville from Bethesda, Maryland to pack up her belongings.
Growing tired of music and podcasts, Williamson shut off her radio at one point during her drive.
“I just started talking to myself as if I was being interviewed on a podcast.” she said. “I was able to talk to myself for so long that I was like, ‘I guess I could start a podcast.’”
Originally, Williamson said she planned for her podcast to focus on the lifestyle of a college student, but as she started recording it, she realized she didn’t love the idea.
It would take Williamson another nine months to fully commit and plan out a process for her podcast.
In the fall of 2020, Williamson was enrolled in a content marketing course led by UF professor Robert Padovano.
“He was amazing. Every day in class, he would basically just tell us to create our own content, and he would tell us we just need to do it,” Williamson said.
Williamson credited Padovano as one of the reasons she decided to go for the podcast.
“I realized it doesn’t have to go anywhere because that’s not the goal. The goal is to just create something that I am proud of, and that is mine,” Williamson said.
Padovano, 50, has been teaching at UF since 2012. He said Williamson was an active participant in his class and frequently engaged in the conversation.
“I think it is fantastic that students like Kara are inspired to take the initiative and create their own content,” Padovano said.
Padovano said he has listened to a few of Williamson’s podcast episodes, and was impressed.
“Students should give themselves permission to try something, learn from the experience and not give up on their dreams and aspirations,” Padovano said.
Padovano said that he wants his students to try something while time is on their side, so they can look back with no regrets.
Williamson said she is the busiest during the weeks she releases an episode.
“It’s probably an hour or two of recording and an average of six hours for editing. It’s then usually another two to three hours for creating graphics for social media and other promos,” Williamson said.
After launching the podcast in July, Williamson said she wanted to find a way to continue her passion for music on UF’s campus.
Williamson applied to Swamp Records, Gainesville’s student-run artist resource agency, in August. She was accepted and is currently on an artist relations team for the Driptones, a local band.
Shannon Mercatante, the president of Swamp Records, said that 40 applicants out of a total of 60 were accepted to the student organization.
Mikey Saltzman, 21, is a UF finance junior who serves as the director for the Driptones.
“When I interviewed Kara, she was very charismatic and passionate about helping local artists with their social media, their graphics and increasing their brand awareness as a whole,” Saltzman said.
Saltzman selected Williamson to join his team of only eight people.
“All her skills really lined up to what I needed for someone on my team,” Saltzman said.
In collaboration with the Driptones, Williamson interviewed the band on the podcast and released the episode Nov. 4.
Tara Carroll is a contributing writer for The Alligator.