Looking back on the Fishbowl Podcast, a student-led production 

During their sophomore year, video production teacher Phil Halpern reached out to Communication Arts and Sciences seniors Finn Brooks, Magnus Scheffy, Cyrus Patten-Ostergard, and Lincoln Roan.


During their sophomore year, video production teacher Phil Halpern reached out to Communication Arts and Sciences (CAS) seniors Finn Brooks, Magnus Scheffy, Cyrus Patten-Ostergard, and Lincoln Roan. Halpern gave them the opportunity to record a podcast in Berkeley High School’s upcoming sound studio. 

“Halpern approached me and Cyrus and literally goes, ‘You two are best friends, right?’ And we’re like, ‘Yeah.’ He’s like, ‘Would you like to start a podcast in the new sound studio in C-400’? And we’re like ‘Sure’,” Roan said. Brooks and Scheffy joined the pair when they talked to Halpern again to finalize the project. They would name it the “Fishbowl Podcast,” and officially release seven episodes.

Initially, the podcast was supposed to take place in the new sound studio, however, the four ended up meeting at Brooks’ house to record episodes. “It was supposed to be in the sound studio that’s in Mr. Halpern’s class now, but even after the entire summer (of) sophomore year, it was not filled. We just took equipment to Finn’s house every Thursday and recorded there,” Roan said.

One of the biggest challenges for the podcast was reserving the school’s equipment on time to record an episode for the Thursdays they met on, because they couldn’t automatically reserve it for every Thursday. 

“A couple of times, it would be Wednesday night at 11:30pm, and I’d be like, I gotta put in a request form, and sometimes I forget. So, yes, we checked it out every Wednesday night and then picked it up Thursday,” Roan said. 

The “Fishbowl Podcast” discussions were mainly inspired by ideas for prompts Brooks had recorded in his notes app, as well as a combination of other talking points brought by the other members. 

“To be honest with you, it was mostly Finn on the notes app, and if anyone had any random ideas, you would just throw them in. But most of it was freestyle,” Patten-Ostergard said. 

The concept behind the “Fishbowl Podcast” was to bring in a new guest every week to contribute to their conversations. In episode four, they featured their first guests Edith Galvagna and Elodie Chinn of the BHS Period Club to discuss “the importance of reproductive health education,” according to the description of episode four. 

Other guests consisted of friends of the group and the discussion was often influenced by who the guest was during each given episode. “Topics vary from women’s reproductive health, to backpacking, to fashion trends, and psychology,” Scheffy said. 

After initially trying to stay separate from BHS and keeping people’s identities confidential, the four recognized their connection to BHS and CAS, as all four of the members are in CAS. “We definitely had like our inside jokes kind of leak out,” Patten-Ostergard said. Sometimes the group would have CAS-related discussions, or they would reference a classmate or a teacher. 

During its seven-episode run, the podcast amassed around 2000 plays, which translates into $30 that the podcasters made. They were also able to raise $205 from donations as well as someone recently buying their original Instagram tag. 

But besides the monetary gain, the four also found some valuable experiences through the podcast. “I think it was fun … We learned a lot. Or at least me and Magnus edited an episode or two, … so I learned a lot about editing. We all learned, because we had to set up the equipment and all that, and … we had a lot of technical difficulties because, you know, public school audio equipment was not that efficient,” Roan said. 

The podcast came to a close after officially publishing the seventh episode, because the groups’ schedules had gotten much busier and there was a lack of availability to record with the school-provided equipment. “(It) was just all reserved … We couldn’t do it. Our Thursdays got taken up because of … our conflicting schedules. We did a couple episodes on Discord though,” Roan said.

However, the podcast might be able to return towards the end of the school year, when senior schedules begin to loosen up. “I bet we could crank out one or a couple episodes before the year ends,” Roan said.

The project inspired the group to podcast in the future, as well as people around them, such as Roan’s dad who has since begun his own podcast. 

“I feel like what was interesting was that my dad (would) listen to it. And same with (other member’s parents), like Finn’s mom … They both were showing … their friends, and all their friends said that is interesting to see a window into teenagers’ lives,” Scheffy said.

 “It was cool to see the response from people at BHS,” Roan said, “it just felt good to make something … and have people like it.”