On Wednesday morning in North Carolina and Wednesday evening in Germany, two military spouses bridge the ocean separating them and unite to host a live podcast. “Spouse Spouts” is the brainchild of Susan Reynolds, who partners with the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance Army Spouse of the Year Dave Etter.
Susan, a 12-year Air Force spouse, came home from the 2013 MSOY Town Hall motivated to start a podcast. She reserved domain names, reserved a name on Blog Talk Radio and put a plan together, albeit haphazardly. “The goal was to teach spouses and families how to advocate,” she explains. “But something stopped me at every step of the way. Teaching people how to advocate is smart, but it’s a narrow focus.”
Around that time, Susan’s local newspaper, The Fayetteville Observer, offered her the chance to write a military spouse and family column titled Homefront Operations. Despite the endless possibilities that afforded, she still yearned for a podcast.
“Last year, right as my husband was leaving for another deployment, my friend Randi helped me realize I was getting in my own way,” she recalls. “I was using every possible excuse not to start my podcast. Nothing was getting in my way except m own fears and insecurities. So, I recorded a couple of shows, but never posted them for the public because something was missing.”
Host and Co-host
Enter Dave Etter.
Susan saw something in Dave’s Military Spouse of the Year profile when he was in the top three for the Army in 2016. “We have something in common,” she says. “Both Dave and myself have felt the effects of suicide and are surviving its impact on our lives. I also saw Dave used to be on the radio and now has a podcast. I messaged him on Facebook and we started chatting. One day I called in to his podcast and we had a great rapport; I couldn’t stop laughing.”
Their conversations continued throughout several months, and in April 2016 Susan announced on Facebook she was starting her podcast, with Dave there as a supportive friend. Dave developed the name “Spouse Spouts” and they moved forward together with Susan as host and Dave as co-host. “I nudged her and partnered with her to ensure a solid, fertile start,” Dave says. “She’s the boss. I just do the production. It’s perfect this way!”
“The first few shows we really were flying by the seat of our pants,” Susan says. “I’m not the most organized person and Dave isn’t either. He’s more laid back. I have this vision for the show and that vision requires a little more organization.”
Susan started writing a list and prepping in advance. That planning has yielded some wonderful guests, including Dr. Keita Franklin from the Department of Defense, who spoke about suicide awareness. Other topics that resonated included spouse employment and mental health. Susan hopes to bring Susan Tillis on the show, wife of North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, to talk about the foundation she started that benefits military families. Susan also hopes to extend invitations to the service chiefs and the senior enlisted and their families.
Some listeners have referred to Spouse Spouts as a “safe community,” but Susan and Dave disagree. “I would never call Spouse Spouts a safe community,” Susan says. “I would call us a place to come and talk about everything and anything. We are not here to bully, put down or make people feel defeated.”
Dave adds: “A podcast is eternal – not something I would want thought of as a safe community. Honest community, sure.”
Susan and Dave are idea people who like to share their ideas. “If people come on the show to talk about a problem, they will get a solution from one or both of us,” she says. “I believe that Spouse Spouts is becoming a place that is accepting of people.”
She does caution, though: “If people wish to come on the show just to complain about the military, it will not be well received. Does the DoD have policies and procedures that negatively impact families? Yes. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to just complain and put down the military. There is a fine line between blowing off some steam and all out attacking the Defense Department.”
Hosting a podcast is a natural fit for Susan, who has ADHD and dyslexia. “As you can imagine, being a writer is not the easiest career choice,” she says. “I find that having a podcast is better for my dyslexia. It became a way for me to get the same message across but in a way that works with my strengths.”
Susan also is a self-described lifelong learner. “It’s more than learning something new, though,” Susan says. “I love seeing what the military community is doing. We have spouses, veterans and service members doing things that are mind-blowing, impressive and heartwarming. The military community never stops serving and sharing their service is humbling and inspiring.
“Here’s what I was hoping with a podcast: a place for spouses to come and talk, share their feelings, solve the world’s problems and laugh. So much laughing.”
You can tune in to their show every Wednesday at 9:30am EST here!
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