“Teachers by Day, Nerds by Night” – meet “The Fandalorians,” a pop culture podcast by a trio of teachers from Riverhead
In November 2019, the popular Star Wars TV show, “The Mandalorian” aired on Disney +, for a broad internet conversation about the origins of the mysterious masked protagonist and memes about the lovable “Baby Yoda”.
James Richardson, a fourth-grade teacher at Roanoke Avenue Elementary School, had the same conversations about the show with two old friends: Patrick McDonald, a longtime childhood friend and former classmate in the elementary school of Phillips Avenue, and Charles Giannone, a former colleague of his wife whom Richardson quickly became friends with after their presentation. They created a group chat to discuss the series, which they dubbed the “Fandalorians”.
The three are close, bonded by their love of teaching – McDonald is a social studies teacher at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens, while Giannone teaches third grade at Riley Avenue Elementary School in Riverhead – and as self-proclaimed nerds. Men are fans of TV shows, movies, and comics.
They decided to mix their professional skills as teachers with their private conversations about pop culture. The result is “The Fandalorians: Teachers By Day, Nerds By Night”, a weekly podcast where the three friends get together to discuss pop culture news, talk about TV and movies, and debate their “hits. hot “between them for about an hour.
âIt’s something fun to do, it’s something interesting to do,â said Giannone. “We’ve always talked to each other, so now we just let other people listen to our conversations.”
Marvel, Star Wars, and DC are just a few of the topics the group tackles during what is currently an 11-episode series. The idea for the podcast surfaced at an outdoor hangout at Richardson’s during the pandemic, where they met and debated a variety of pop culture topics.
âIt was just a really fun night and Mr. Richardson was like, we should just record this and see how it goes,â McDonald said. âIt sounds like a good podcast. ”
The group has had conversations about starting a podcast in the past, but they eventually started creating their first episodes in July. Richardson edits and acts as a producer for the podcast.
The podcast allows the three friends to find time to meet each week to meet and chat. It has also increased their attention to detail when it comes to the topics they discuss around pop culture.
âWe’ve known each other for years and we hang out enough to know we’re funny enough. And I’m just watching it, because I listen to podcasts, and I think we’re as funny if not funnier than some of the ones I’ve listened to, and it’s worth a try, âsaid Richardson .
The podcast takes a look at the fact that the three men are teachers. The bells ring when the group moves on to the next “period” or segments of their show, which are often named after school-related activities, such as “morning announcements” for the news segment, âPost-observationâ for the end of the reflection show, or âstudent of the weekâ where they highlight someone doing something right next to pop culture.
âThere are so many podcasts out there – hundreds of thousands – so you have to create your niche. And instead of just being a generic pop culture podcast, we also relied on our strengths as teachers, âsaid McDonald.
The debates on the show are healthy, but passionate, disagreements between old friends. An argument over their opinions on âStar Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jediâ – McDonald’s loving the movie and Richardson hating him – was debated on the second episode of the podcast. Giannone never watched âLost,â which prompted the other two to gang up on him to persuade him to watch the 2004 drama series in the 10th episode of the podcast.
“Now we have to go back to therapy for this,” McDonald joked, after the wound that was the band’s Star Wars argument reopened during the interview.
âFrom a teacher’s perspective as well, it’s important for people to understand how to disagree without yelling at each other or just saying ‘you’re stupid,’â said McDonald. âYou see a lot of people who are just going to attack their character. It’s great to have different opinions from other people, and then you can still be friends.
The podcast isn’t big – there have been around 90 regular listeners, the group said – but it has been successful enough that they continue the ritual of getting together every weekend on zoom to record.
“We’re all teachers, we’ve got things going, it’s hard to come together, but it’s not like we need the podcast to be too successful to pay bills or anything,” said Richardson. âIt’s just something we could do for fun as a hobby. “
The group pride themselves on making the podcast family-friendly and engaging for those who are both pop culture savvy and those who are not.
âWe try to present every podcast as if you are a newbie listener,â said Richardson. “So you don’t need to start with [episode] one, you can jump anywhere and see something that interests you and stick around for things that you might not be familiar with.
âThe Fandalorians: Teachers By Day, Nerds By Nightâ is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Audible, and other websites where you get your podcasts.
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