Highlighting the Story Stables Podcast

Caitlin Gooch of Saddle Up and Read now has a podcast! She and WUNC are producing the Story Stables podcast, a pod for early readers. The show celebrates words and stories, bringing books to life with the help of sounds, music and the voices of children who read to Man Man the miniature horse.

Saddle Up and Read founder Caitlin Gooch has collaborated with WUNC for the past year and a half to create the Story Stables podcast. Gooch and her miniature horse, Man-Man host each episode in the barn, “WUNC comes out to the farm and they record our episodes,” Gooch explained, “Man-Man and I, we talk about horse stuff, we talk about living on a farm, we make horse jokes. When we introduced it, we set the tone – you can hear the barn animals and all that good stuff!” Gooch reads a book, “all our books are from Black authors and illustrators,” she noted, and at the end of the episode, Gooch and Man-Man return with a horse joke. “I do love [the podcast], so much,” said Gooch.

The listeners, per Gooch, also love the podcast: “We’ve met a lot of our listeners in public,” she said, “when we have stuff for Saddle Up and Read, they might come out and they’re like, ‘oh, there’s Man-man and there’s Caitlin!’” Gooch and Man-Man also make appearances at community events as part of the podcast, which listeners enjoy.

Recording began in December 2021 and the first episode was released June 1, 2022. But the idea for the podcast all started when two women who worked for WUNC in podcasting saw Gooch on Twitter. “They thought, ‘Wow, this Black woman is doing some amazing things, we need to amplify her voice,’” Gooch shared. They held a couple of Zoom meetings to discuss a podcast and they visited the farm with a producer. “They came out,” said Gooch, “and were like, ‘okay, we’re doing it, we’re doing the Story Stables.’ I think it was just part of their own creativity, they saw what I’m doing with Saddle Up and Read and my 4-H club. I think they saw that as an opportunity for Black children to be able to imagine and broaden their imagination and of course to highlight Black authors and Black illustrators.”

For Gooch, the biggest challenge in podcasting is, “I have to try not to think how I sound. The sound of my voice is so interesting when I hear it back on a recording. I’ve always been one of those people who’s like, ‘oh my gosh, I don’t want to hear my interviews’ because my voice doesn’t sound like that to me!” On the podcast, she doesn’t have a script, “they’re like, ‘just flow from you heart,’” said Gooch, “and sometimes when I do that, I can say it perfectly, or, perfect to me, but then they’ll need another take and I’ll be like, ‘I don’t know what I just said!’ Learning how to say what it is I want to say as if the kids are there” is another challenge Gooch mentioned. “I have to focus as if I’m talking to kids, because we’ve had to pop up the mic in weird places, so sometimes I’m just looking at a wall – that’s been really interesting. But, it’s so much fun because we’ll be recording and might have to wait because the rooster is crowing or all the horses start neighing.”

Most episodes of the Story Stable are approximately five to 10 minutes long. The first season is out and can be found on all major podcast apps as well as on WUNC’s website at: https://www.wunc.org/podcast/the-story-stables. To follow Saddle Up and Read, visit their website: https://www.saddleupandread.org/.