There always seems to be some new “tea” every week on TikTok: “Is Dixie D’Amelio dating Noah Beck?” “Did you hear Griffin Johnson’s new song?” “Why is 6inx9ine with the hype house?” “What even happened with Madison Beer?”
All these questions seem impossible to answer unless you have four phones and are on TikTok for 24 hours a day, but never fear: senior Riley Wilkes has everything covered in his podcast “Gossip Happy Hour.”
Launched on July 9, 2020, “Gossip Happy Hour” is a podcast where Riley discusses a variety of topics related to celebrity drama. From reality TV show gossip to weekly TikTok tea, Riley simplifies the drama down to 30 minutes for ordinary listeners to get a glimpse into the complicated celebrity world.
Growing up, Riley took great interest in the media. “I started listening [to] three podcasts a day, not just about [entertainment], but about sports and news,” said Riley. As social media grew in popularity, Riley also turned to live tweeting while watching reality TV shows.
Riley said that he had “always wanted a place to share [his] thoughts,” so he decided to start making podcasts. Instead of being contained within the character limit of tweets, podcasts allow him to “talk for 30 minutes straight, and be able to spit [out] everything [he is] thinking about.”
There was initially a learning curve for Riley when he started editing his podcast. “The first few episodes were definitely hard figuring out [how to use] GarageBand,” he said, though “once I got into the second or third episode, it’s not that hard at all.”
His efforts are visible to the students who listen to Riley’s podcast. Freeman senior and podcast listener Caroline Wood said that “he [is] very devoted – he was staying up late, finding out new information, and researching.”
One of Riley’s most notable episodes was a conversation with Noah Beck, a TikToker with over 15 million followers. This was a milestone for Riley as he “start[ed] off really small and then [was] able to put ‘A conversation with Noah Beck’ in the [podcast’s] title.” Riley said that “even talking for five minutes” with Noah was “definitely a lot different” than seeing him through a phone screen. Noah and Riley continue to interact with each other and comment on one another’s posts on social media.
Due to all of his efforts, Riley’s podcast is growing. One of his most recent episodes received 1,200 streams in four days. “I’m still blown away to see that number,” he said. He has even started to reach out to different advertising companies, in order to engage more listeners and make money off doing something that he loves.
While reaching a larger audience, Riley is still able to stay connected locally. According to senior Jill Gomes, “the podcast is funny because Riley mentions people from Freeman, which keeps the Freeman community engaged.”
In the future, Riley hopes to be able to interview other big name celebrities. “Someone like Nessa Barrett or Madison Beer where people switch [their opinions about them] so fast,” said Riley, “I would like to figure out how that happened, and that would definitely be an interesting conversation to have.” In addition, he hopes to have 5,000 regular listeners by the end of the year. He said, “That’s a lot, but if I keep going [at] this pace, I’ll definitely be able to reach that.”