If someone told Josh Rosenthal a few years ago that he would someday deliver the salutatorian address at his recent graduation from Harry S. Truman High School, he wouldn’t have believed them.
For most of his childhood, Rosenthal battled a speech impediment that made him extremely anxious to speak in public. However, he found something during his senior year that not only boosted his confidence in this area, but helped carve a path for his future career – serving as the inaugural host of Tiger Talk, the official podcast of the Bristol Township School District.
According to Rosenthal, who shared his Tiger Talk experience at the latest school board meeting, the monthly podcast was created “by the district, for the district” for the 2020-21 academic year. It launched in partnership with The Communication Solutions Group, a Jenkintown-based strategic communications firm that has worked with BTSD since 2014.
Each month, Rosenthal collaborated with The Communication Solutions Group’s Kellie Dietrich, who is the public relations specialist for the district. He conducted interviews with various students and staff members to create seven episodes of Tiger Talk. The firm edited and produced the finished products.
Topics included the importance of social-emotional learning, adjusting to virtual learning during the pandemic, the essential role that school counselors hold in the district, technology trends and addressing mental health for teachers and students.
“As a student within the district, hosting Tiger Talk was one of the greatest honors of my high school education,” said Rosenthal. “It opened a lot of doors for me and gave me something to devote my creative focus to at the time. If I hadn’t done Tiger Talk, I probably wouldn’t be able to stand here right now.”
In the fall, Rosenthal intends to pursue a degree in journalism at Boston University. He credits Tiger Talk with strengthening his passion for the field and honing his interviewing skills, especially when it comes to asking the difficult questions.
Dietrich shared that she is currently seeking a rising junior or senior at Truman to take over as host of Tiger Talk for the 2021-22 school year. This experience is considered an internship. Responsibilities include interviewing students and staff in the district and, depending on the intern’s interests, writing BTSD website and social media content, writing press releases and taking photos (a phone camera is sufficient).
“The student does not need to have prior podcast or journalism experience to apply, but they should have a strong interest in communications and broadcast journalism,” explained Dietrich. “If students have samples from Truman News Network or any relevant experience, it will definitely help them stand out when applying.”
Tiger Talk work can be completed remotely, though Dietrich said the student has the opportunity to visit the Jenkintown office.
“Our goal is to produce one episode per month during the school year, so the schedule is very flexible for the student,” she added.
As Rosenthal prepares to move onto his next chapter, he has high hopes for the future of Tiger Talk.
“I believe that Tiger Talk can provide an invaluable and unique voice to our school district. As new hosts and guests join the podcast in the future, the pressing issues of our times can be explored through an engaging and constantly evolving medium, putting our district at the forefront of this new digital era,” he said. “As we move into a new normal, I’m very interested to see how the podcast evolves, because I definitely think it can be adapted to whatever situations we face in the future. And also for students who want to pursue a career in audiovisual production, journalism or public relations, they would definitely gain excellent knowledge and experience from interning as the host of this podcast.”
Truman juniors and seniors interested in applying can do so at comsolutions.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Applications should be submitted by Aug. 31. The podcast is available on Spotify and the district’s website at btsd.us/our_district/tiger_talk_podcast.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org