NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Students’ podcasts are on the air

Communication students at NECC are making leaps and bounds in spreading information, bringing attention to contemporary issues in mass media and discussing controversial topics through HC Media’s podcasts.

Thomas Matatall, Communication major, is a discussion leader in his podcast “Breaking the Norm.”

“Our podcast is with my co-host Courtney Spera. We talk about uncomfortable topics for college students mainly, things like social justice issues. We tend to be more liberal, so when we talk about politics it tends to be more on the Democratic side,” said Matatall.

Other divisive topics like Planned Parenthood, abortion and gun control laws are brought out on a conversational platter as well. In the first episode, the issue of double standards in society — including the controversial “Free the nipple” campaign that is frequently referenced in media — were examined. “It was our first one, so it was a little rocky. My favorite part is to be able to do it with my best friend, we have a good time and talk back and forth. There’s a lot to come, you can get a podcast app on your phone,” said Matatall.

Another podcast that has made its debut is “Here and There” created by Tracy Mukami and Abdul Kamara. Mukami, a Communication major, is a leader in the discussions about very real racial issues in modern society, but also focuses on the positives of being an African American. “The podcast is my friend and I, we basically try to break the racial social barriers in society. He’s a first-generation African, and I came from Africa when I was younger, so I’m pretty much first-generation too,” said Mukami.

To try and break the social barriers, the duo uniquely offers a positive outlook by discussing where they come from, and the similarities and differences among cultures.

“We talk about how we were raised, what we enjoyed seeing, what was different, and how we were able to transition from this lifestyle to the outside world,” said Mukami.

One might expect someone who comes from a different culture to experience a lot of difficulty experiencing a college campus, however for Mukami it simply wasn’t the case.

“A lot of people were really understanding. People kind of have something in them where they want to learn, and get educated, especially at NECC. It’s very diverse and I really like it,” said Mukami. According to her, one of the most enjoyable parts of being on a radio podcast, especially when addressing social injustices or racial inequalities, is the feedback from listeners.

“People are interacting back and forth with us. When we tweet it out and have people comment back or subscribe, that tells you how you’re doing,” said Mukami.

The biggest struggle and point of contention in the current social climate is trying to get people to understand the difference between those who identify as African Americans, and those who identify as Black Americans.

“I consider myself African because I’m not even a citizen of the country yet, but I also still go back to my country. My mom speaks the language, and I understand. Then, with African Americans, some don’t know where their roots are from.  We have this whole different culture but Black Americans can also relate to it, we’re kind of in that little pod, not everyone can understand that from the outside. There can be German Americans, or French Americans who happen to be black, and their grandparents or people before them. Once you’re here and you’ve lived here for awhile and adjusted to it you’d be African American. It all depends on how the individual feels,” said Mukami.

“Here and There” has one episode out right now, and plans to do one or two each month, each being about 30 minutes long.

“We will be having guests on the show, of people of different backgrounds, from different schools, different cities. So we will have people who are in Lowell which is not as diverse in certain areas, then we’ll go to Fitchburg, and compare the different environments, and whether it’s in college or high school we’ll compare to similarities and differences growing up,” said Mukami.

Other podcasts include a sports talk with Eddie Hoar and Matt Couture, called “Couture & Hoar Sports Talk” which is now available online. To reach the podcasts, go to to check out current podcasts.