Podcasting taught me how to speak up and love my voice

Over the past 22 years, my voice has become an amalgamation of Texas twang, Austin quickness, and mild congestion. This is the result of spending the first 18 years of my life in a small town where movie tickets cost $2.25 and everything closed by 9PM, and the past 5 years in the city I now call home: Austin. I used to hate listening to any recording of my voice. I used to think people judged me or discredited my thoughts because I sometimes pronounce things with a little Southern accent. I almost canceled my own podcast because I was so scared of people not wanting to listen to a small town girl with a perpetual sinus infection. But I didn’t. Podcasting has taught me to love everything about my voice.

As a kid, I loved watching Radio Free Roscoe. I yearned to express my opinions and thoughts, but I couldn’t imagine actually talking on the air with the way my voice sounded. In eighth grade, I tried to change my voice into something resembling Jessica Alba’s surfer girl character in Into the Blue but wound up sounding like Paul Rudd’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In high school, I changed my voicemail greeting to the chorus of No Doubt’s “Spiderwebs” because I would rather have a grainy Gwen Stefani greet listeners instead of my own voice. I eventually settled for imagining myself writing scripts and letting others speak for me.

Then, I moved to Austin. A few friends lovingly teased my country accent, but it never really bothered me. I continued to write because my voice could be interpreted by the reader; it didn’t have to be narrated with my inflection. I had friends majoring in broadcast and envied their confidence. I longed to have the courage to see my voice as something beautiful and powerful like they did.

I started listening to podcasts the summer after I graduated and fell in love with this new wave of audio-driven media. It reminded me of sitting on my grandfather’s lap and listening to CDs of the old radio shows and broadcasts he grew up listening to. Even at that age, I remember being entranced by the power of spoken word and awed by how simple it was to immerse the audience not only in an entire fictional world but sometimes just a conversation. That’s why in March I decided I wanted to start a podcast. There was only one problem: What was I going to do about my voice?

I had created an entire show based around a conversational tone, but I was too afraid to record myself in conversation. I initially tried to avoid starting my podcast by using such excuses as not having a co-host, equipment, or any sound editing knowledge. However, when all three simultaneously landed in my lap less than a week later, I knew I had a big decision to make. I knew that not only would I have to listen to my own recorded voice to jot down creative notes but that others would also be listening. After several days of making pro/con lists, watching Legally Blonde for inspiration, and calling my mother on the verge of tears, I realized I had to record my podcast.

I realized there were others letting their voice or other insecurity affect their goals. I realized there were others without the luxury of free speech who would be honored for the chance to speak freely without consequence. I realized I was letting my own insecurities rule my life, and it was time to take back control. That’s why I got on the air for the first time and said, “Hey guys! I’m Baillee,” and never looked back.

Having a voice is a powerful thing. It’s a part of you. It shows who you are. It’s unique to your persona, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Speak up, speak loud, and speak often! I’m not afraid to anymore.

Baillee MaCloud Perkins’ entire life revolves around horror movies and ’90s nostalgia. She has a degree in PR and Advertising from St. Edward’s University, so she scoops ice cream for a living. In her spare time, she collects eccentric coffee mugs/wolf shirts, leaves no breakfast taco unturned, and makes excessive references to The O.C. Baillee occasionally tweets at celebrities (@bailleemacloud) and sometimes writes funny things on her blog (nobodyputsbailleeinthecorner.wordpress.com).

[Image via iStock]