Orange Coast College’s national award-winning Speech and Debate Team, also known as Forensics, stars in the podcast “Soapboxers” that gives listeners a well-rounded insight into the dynamics of debating during the fall 2021 semester.
Talon Stradley, a former OCC student who majored in theater, psychology, creative media and entertainment, is the creator and producer of “Soapboxers.” Stradley generated the idea for the podcast after his own experience being on the team from 2018 to 2019.
“I had a great time, I learned a lot, I grew,” Stradley said. “I went to the state championship then the national championships and it was just a very cool, important and special experience.”
Stradley felt encouraged to uncover the unseen aspects of speech and debate that involve interpretation, platform speaking and the true environment that takes place at a tournament.
“My goal was to give a window into that world, but the specifics with the events, and showing the more social aspects or some of those exciting moments,” Stradley said.
Soapboxers is focused on revealing the work done behind the scenes of OCC’s Speech and Debate team, while simultaneously uncovering the talent of the team’s members. From 2015 to 2018, OCC’s forensics squad won more consecutive national championships than any other community college in history.
Stradley produces the podcast to showcase the effort that sets those records.
“It's kind of cool for me to be able to shine the spotlight on this gem Orange Coast College has, which is one of the best speech and debate programs in the nation,” Stradley said.
The podcast has featured interviews with former OCC competitor Jinno Vicencio, coaches Hannah Haghighat and Sean Connor, along with the Director of Forensics Shauhin Davari.
Stradley spent roughly 30 to 40 hours a week working with Davari during state and nationals, and originally recruited him onto the team after listening to his fiction storytelling podcasts.
“As a coach, you only do one year with us and I wish that I had two years with him because he's incredibly motivated, an incredible student and really fun to work with,” Davari said.
According to Davari, Stradley’s podcast highlights the true skills that are encompassed in speech and debate that include critical thinking, creating a community, platform and limited preparation speaking, along with competitive acting with advocacy.
“Those are the things that kind of get glossed over when people think about speech and debate,” Davari said.
Stradley will soon release an episode of “Soapboxers” that will cover the first in-person tournament and disclose how COVID-19 has affected the positions of coaches and judges.
“[I’m] moving away from that very informative style to this much more nuanced, layered approach,” Stradley said. “It's very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.”
Stradley’s website also features episodes of “Soapboxers” along with his other podcasts: “Newton’s Dark Room,” “Main Street Mythology,” “The Whole Way Through” and “Cochlea.”
“To hear how professional and well put together the podcast is – with a storytelling arc – you know it's not just some kid who's throwing together a podcast,” Davari said. “It's really a professional operation from start to finish.”