Students create podcast in spirit of simplicity to fight complacency

Photo by Mary Grace Byers

Cecilia Engbert
Assistant Editor

It all started on a carpet in Austria.

While on their semester abroad in fall 2019, two friends found a red carpet in the Kartause that soon became the most important part of their room.

Because they were on the first floor of Franziskus Haus at the Kartause, other students would stop by on their way to and from classes, settling down on the carpet to talk about whatever was on their minds. Word spread among their friends as well as friends of friends and the carpet became the “talk of the town,” senior Emilee Staab said.

From that carpet was born a podcast that Staab and fellow senior Kaleigh O’Kane have been recording since spring 2021. The “Carpet Talk” podcast is centered on “ending complacency one conversation at a time” and is geared towards fostering simplicity through conversation.

O’Kane said the inspiration struck in Austria because the European country has a very different culture than America.

“It’s just so easy to get busy here in the United States (where) there isn’t a culture of leisure,” O’Kane said. “There’s not a culture of taking time to think about the things that are lasting.”

O’Kane said there is too much emphasis on just getting things done in America and moving on to the next thing. She said the podcast is meant to emphasize that there is more to life than the measure of productivity.

The goal of the podcast is to invite people to open up in conversation about things they wouldn’t normally bring up and to be vulnerable, O’Kane said.

“No one knows how to get to that starting point, no one knows how to deal with intimacy, no one knows how to do vulnerability,” O’Kane said. “People are aching to talk about things that matter to them, they just don’t know how to get there. So we’re going to put a microphone in front of you and you can lay it out all there and we’ll dive into the nitty gritty.”

O’Kane and Staab don’t just start the conversations on the podcast themselves. They encourage others to initiate them as well.

O’Kane said, “We’re talking to each other and allowing people in on those conversations, or we’re asking people to start a conversation themselves that goes beyond just their close circle, goes beyond the people they would normally be comfortable saying it to. Because ultimately, sainthood and holiness is not comfortable; it’s getting uncomfortable.”

Staab said the podcast became important to them because they wanted to communicate the conversation of daily holiness to people not just in the Franciscan University of Steubenville community, but outside it as well.

“We’ve been having the conversation back and forth of … what does it mean to be holy and what does it mean to be holy beyond the simple scope of things?” Staab said. “It’s letting the Lord touch every aspect of your life and change everything about it.”

Staab said they aim to lead people to live fiercely in a complacent world.

“It’s continuously entering into that idea of becoming fully alive, whatever that looks like, today, tomorrow or 40 years from now,” she said.

The podcast has included conversations about a wide range of topics, including the cross, the hidden life and humanity of Jesus, the heroic minute in the morning, praying with scripture and much more.

“At the beginning, it was just different things that were stirring us, or resonating with us personally and then talking about what that means for the 21-year-old Catholic,” Staab said.

This semester, Staab said they’ve invited fellow students or alumni to participate as guests in the conversations and share the “spiritual nuggets that they have picked up along the way and that have changed them along the way.”

O’Kane said the end goal of the podcast is touch hearts with what is said so that they can achieve eternity in heaven.

“Even if it’s just 10 people who now get to strive for eternity because they heard something that stirred their hearts, … that’s enough for us,” she said.

In the spirit of “carpet talk,” O’Kane and Staab always try to record sitting on a carpet in their height, drinking coffee out of a mug. Their setup is simple: a microphone clipped to a water bottle.

“It’s just a desire to hold onto the simplicity,” Staab said.

They try to keep all episodes to about 20 minutes because they want their audience to not just listen but to go out and have conversations about what they hear.

“(It should) actually (be) something that stirs you to go speak and to encounter other people,” O’Kane said.

Episodes of “Carpet Talk” are released every week and can be found wherever podcasts are available. There is also a YouTube channel with video recordings available, as well as an Instagram account: @thecarpettalk.