Podcast is positive outlet for LU communication major
As the world struggled with the isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lakeland senior Isaiah Vance turned to the skills he plans to use after he graduates to become, as he put it, human again.
Vance, who is majoring in communication, launched a podcast last May entitled Plug Ave., a vehicle to share stories from small business owners, independent artists and others. He interviews people about overcoming COVID, while providing a platform for them to share their stories.
“COVID took that human interaction away from us,” said Vance, who conducts all his interviews in person. “I thrive from that interaction, so a lot of us didn’t feel human or alive. Doing this has helped me get back to where I was.”
Vance, who came to Lakeland from Zion, Ill., was also inspired by his mother, who owns a hair salon that she started in Antioch, Ill. COVID closed her business, and Vance saw first-hand the negative impact of the pandemic on small businesses. His podcast gives people a new way to spread the word.
“We’re getting people’s stories out to let other people know these businesses exist,” Vance said. “It is a melting pot of knowledge, inspiration and motivation available to anyone who may want to go down the same path.
“Small businesses matter and need to be spotlighted, but they can’t always afford commercials and other marketing. People like hearing stories about other people. Hearing someone else’s story, journey or advice could help someone else later.”
Vance credits his LU classes, especially public speaking, and Lakeland faculty members Charlie Krebs and Nathan Stewart with helping him become more comfortable with talking to and listening to people.
“I still have a long way to go, but they set a stable foundation,” Vance said. “This is helping me become a more competent communicator. Interacting and communicating with people is an important skill needed for a lot of things in life.”
He has significant help behind the scenes from recent Lakeland graduates, including many fellow members of the Beta Sigma Omega fraternity, including Diante Moses, Jerry Ojeda, Jerry Stokes, Byron Ward and Donte Rowell.
“They helped me mentally numerous of times to overcome my obstacles I faced starting out, so without them, Plug Ave. would still be just an idea,” Vance said. “A lot of Lakeland people have shown their support and shared content or messaged me to keep going. That is all positive energy that fuels me to keep growing, and I am blessed for it all.”
He has done episodes with Lakeland graduates like Mike Wynn, owner of Grind to Shine Clothing, and Dajuan Darling, an independent artist who has also started a clothing line. He also profiles small businesses, like an interview with the owners of the Rochester Saloon in Sheboygan Falls, Wis.
“We just did one in Cedarburg, a small town with a lot of small business,” Vance said. “When we visit one place, we visit others to see who else we can interview. The people who have talked with us have helped pioneer this for me.”
Vance hopes to work in radio, and he would like to expand his podcast to include stories from people all across the country.
“If I could make this into a career, I would,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to travel and see new things and talk to people? This has started to open doors to other options I did not see were possible.”
You can find the Plug Ave. podcast at the following links: