Student Podcaster Spotlights Problem Solvers
At 19, Ashna Reddy has not only created her own podcast but interviewed guests who have appeared in Forbes, Time and The New York Times. The Silicon Valley native started Sparklink last summer, just before her freshman year at UC Davis. In her free time, Reddy had begun listening to podcasts and became interested in creating one of her own.
Sparklink, she said, spotlights young people who are dedicated to problem-solving through startups. Reddy explained that she hoped her podcast would “spark” new ideas for her listeners and “link” community members together. “The name represents a combination of getting an idea and taking action,” she said.
Heading into her sophomore year, Reddy said podcasting has its challenges. “It can be daunting. Sometimes I reach out to 100 people in one day and no one responds for a week. Those things happen. I try and look for specific people who are working on initiatives and whose stories haven’t been shared before.”
Past guests have included Avi Schiffmann, creator of a worldwide COVID-19 tracking website, and coder Samaira Mehta. So far, Reddy has tackled major issues like gun violence, the Black Lives Matter movement and food waste.
“I’m an engineering major, and I’m constantly curious about how things work and how people solve problems,” she said. “I don’t focus as much on what field the topic is, rather how someone is trying to solve the issue.”
Despite the pandemic, Reddy has continued to record her podcast from her home, operating over Zoom. She recently has been releasing new episodes every Wednesday.
A full-time student, Reddy juggles her schoolwork and podcast. She is now looking for a teammate to handle marketing and social media. “I’m not a design person,” Reddy laughed. “My passion is within the audio portion — speaking to people and learning their stories.”