Stone County Teen Finalist in National Podcast Contest

Stone County native Raegan Calvert made a podcast about her hometown of Wiggins, never thinking that the episode would be a finalist in a national competition.

Calvert’s episode “You Can Go Back Home Again” beat out thousands of other entries in the National Public Radio’s 2022 Student Podcast Challenge.

“It definitely feels surreal,” Calvert said after learning she was among the finalists.

“Knowing that NPR received around 2,400 submissions, I never imagined that my podcast would make it to the top 15,” Calvert said.

The episode was researched, written, and recorded by Calvert and co-produced with her classmate, Braedon Rothert.

The podcast was part of a writing class Calvert took under instructor Thomas Easterling at the Mississippi School for Math and Science.

“Wiggins, Miss. used to be a town bustling with life. Its downtown area, Pine Hill Avenue, once had businesses lining its streets...Calvert reports on why this happened, and the debate residents have over Wiggins’ next steps towards growth,” NPR judges summarized Calvert episode.

For the episode, she interviewed Southern Turnings owner Scott Maddox and resident Gil Heuss in addition to the Stone County Enterprise newspaper staff.

Calvert said the hardest part of editing the episode to the 8-minute limit.

“There were so many details I wish I could have included in the original script,” she said.

In the future, Calvert said she wants to produce a longer episode with more details and interviews.

Although she is not planning to pursue a career in reporting or audio story-telling, Calvert said she gained respect for reporters and editors who produce podcasts.

At the time, she is not ruling out taking on another project and producing another podcast in the future.

“I wouldn’t mind taking the time...to reproduce my podcast without the 8-minute time limit and competition deadline,” she said. “The research process itself was so much more fun than I thought it would be, and I would love to do something like this again.”

Calvert’s award-winning podcast episode can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms by searching for the episode title or the “Real Mississippi” podcast by MSMS.