Liv Fitzsimons and Natalie Ulloa’s friendship started with a tweet.
Fitzsimons, a junior media studies and production major, won tickets to a concert by British pop rock band The Vamps in New York City. Ulloa, a sophomore media studies and production major, congratulated Fitzsimons on Twitter.
They then met briefly in person at The Vamps’ autograph signing before attending the concert Fitzsimons won tickets to a few days later.
“It wasn’t awkward or anything,” Ulloa said. “We just started talking like how we usually would online.”
Last month, the duo launched a bi-weekly podcast “Tweet Limit” and uploaded their fourth episode to Spotify and Soundcloud on Monday. The podcast uses the story of how the hosts met to discuss online friendships and other aspects of social media, like cyberbullying, online dating and “stanning,” when someone idolizes a celebrity.
After uploading their first episode, Ulloa sent a Twitter direct message to James McVey, The Vamps’ guitarist, asking him to listen to it. McVey retweeted Ulloa’s tweet with a link to the episode to his 1.7 million followers.
Fitzsimons said having a member of the band acknowledge the podcast felt really rewarding since it was the reason she met Ulloa.
“I was literally screaming,” said Ulloa, who is from New York City. “Liv and I put a lot of thought and effort into it, and it was really cool that he got to hear it, at least a little bit.”
Ulloa said she wanted the name of the podcast to reflect her online friendship with Fitzsimons.
“Us having a [podcast] discussion on something that you can’t tweet about in 140 or 280 characters was fitting because we came from Twitter,” she added.
About 57 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 have made friends online, according to a 2015 Pew Research Center report. Ulloa and Fitzsimons were in high school when they met.
“A lot of the good stories don’t make it to the public,” said Fitzsimons, who is from northern New Jersey. “It’s a lot more interesting to read some crazy story about someone that’s not who they say they are than two girls who met online and became friends and go to the same college.”
Anne Hoffman, a media studies and production instructor who teaches a course on podcasting and radio production, said audio storytelling expresses emotions and topics that can’t be seen or touched, like friendships. Running a podcast is more flexible than a radio show, she added.
Fitzsimons and Ulloa originally planned to start a radio show but decided a podcast created a more casual atmosphere.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to get greenlit to do a radio show,” Hoffman said. “Even on community radio, you need to apply, you need to get chosen, you need to show up at the same time.”
Still, Fitzsimons and Ulloa diligently prepare for each podcast episode by meeting up to brainstorm topics.
“We just jot down ideas, making notes for ourselves so that we don’t go in the studio and have nothing to talk about,” Ulloa added.
The two friends write the script, Ulloa edits the episode and then Fitzsimons promotes it on social media. They learned how to produce a podcast from the students who run the podcast studio in the Honors Lounge in the Tuttleman Learning Center.
“We’re heavily involved in everything, and I think the best way to learn is to be super involved in the process,” Fitzsimons said. “That allows us to grow our skills and learn from our mistakes.”
The first episode of their podcast, titled “Don’t Mind All My Friends,” touches on how their friendship developed from online to living on the same college campus.
“It’s transformed into a huge part of both of our lives, whether or not we see each other all the time,” Fitzsimons said.
For Ulloa, the internet’s power lies in connecting people.
“It’s cool to be able to get to experience, get to know different people that you would have never met, literally across the world,” Ulloa said.