“Open and honest”: Lab Table Talks podcast aims to de-stigmatize Bay Area high school culture


Provided by Lab Table Talks

Kaley Roe (’24), Ziyan Liu (’24), Kathryn Go (’24), Clara Yin (’24), and Maggie Mei (’24) founded the podcast Lab Table Talks to encourage honest discussions about academic burnout, teenage experience, and more.

Hoping to destigmatize academic burnout and encourage honest discussion, Amador Valley juniors Maggie Mei (‘24), Clara Yin (‘24), Kaley Roe (‘24), Ziyan Liu (‘24), and Kathryn Go (‘24) created the Lab Table Talks podcast. 

From high school activities to Asian teenage experience to academic pressure, the hostesses of the Lab Table Talks podcast aim to discuss their daily struggles in an entertaining and truthful manner. 

“It’s a way to connect with other people that are in our grade, or in high school that might be going through some of the things and to connect with them and show everyone that everyone’s going through it together,” said Go.

Starting the podcast

Being in the same lab group in AP Chemistry since the start of the school year, the team of five came up with the idea to start a podcast around March. Planning to launch it before spring break, they quickly began brainstorming the goal behind the podcast.

“The goal is to de-stigmatize, because a lot of people don’t really talk about the stress that comes with junior year, and how bad it can get. So we want to be honest about how much we’re struggling so that other people feel less alone,” said Liu.

The quintet also coin the podcast name Lab Table Talks after being in the same lab table for AP Chemistry for the whole school year (Photo provided by Lab Table Talks.)

Publishing their first episodes on Spotify and Youtube, the team started the podcast with an introduction of themselves and what people can expect from the podcast. After the unscripted first episode, they tried to balance talking about academic and light-hearted topics, such as College Board AP exams and personality tests. 

“It was just really fun to relax and film a bunch of different personality tests with your lab group in chemistry, and it was just a really relaxing time, especially since we all have finals coming up. It was like a nice 30 minutes where we just didn’t think about any of that,” said Roe.

Doubling as an outlet for creativity, academic advice, and high school discussions, Lab Table Talks is entertaining for both the listeners and hostesses. 

“One, it’s a way for us to kind of de-stress. It’s a diary for us to see what our lives are like, that way in the future, we can look back and see what our lives were like in junior year. Also, it’s a way for other people to kind of understand what the culture is like growing up Asian and in the Bay Area,” said Liu.

The five high school juniors from Amador Valley also share a common Asian-American background and environment of the competitive Bay Area culture. By sharing that struggle through their podcast, the team unveils a different perspective to students’ mindset.

“I also know that during college admission season are, kind of like junior senior years, when a lot of people get very competitive and very secretive about what they’re going through,” Yin added. “We hope by talking about our own experiences and our own feelings, and being very honest about what we think and what we do, that we can kind of encourage, like more open and honest communication among people within our grade.”

Behind the scenes 

Each hostess behind the podcast is responsible for a variety of tasks that go behind every publication: filming, editing, graphic designing, publishing, marketing, and more. 

“We all do take turns filming usually, I film unless it’s online, then Clara has been filming. But when it comes to downloading and uploading videos to YouTube, Spotify, I tend to do that. When it comes to Tiktok, usually it’s Ziyan and I,” said Mei. “Kaley makes the thumbnails and when it comes to brainstorming, we all brainstorm,”

The quintet also shares a document online for all their brainstorming for podcast episode topic ideas for the future. 

“We’ve also asked people what they wanted to see on the podcast, there was a Q&A session on Instagram, and some people were like, oh, we should talk about extracurriculars. So we’re probably going to talk about that in the future too,” said Go.

With more than 140 followers on Instagram and 22k followers on Tiktok, the podcast hostesses listen to their audience’s questions and are always looking for new ways to improve. 

“We don’t exactly have a script, but the first episode we had nothing to build off of basically, and it was a little bit of a mess. But now we have kind of a format and outline that we follow so that we can have a structured episode and to not go off track.” said Roe.

Regardless of the location, whether it’s the library, one of their houses, or an online Zoom call, the team always manages to record their episodes each week. Each episode is also prepared ahead of time to ensure a detailed outline is in place.

“My favorite part is actually setting up, because when we’re discussing brainstorming ideas, we can all see different perspectives and point of views, we each have a certain topic, we lay it out, we plan it out, and we have general bullet points of what we want to discuss,” said Mei.

To market the podcast, Yin is usually in charge of the graphics and Instagram posts on their Instagram, where the team later all reposts on their respective Instagram accounts for publicizing. 

“I usually start making the graphics before we even film the episode, just because I like to get stuff done early. And then from what we said in the episode, I like to consolidate a list of topics to like put in the post so people can kind of have an idea of what they’re going to see,” said Yin.

Video filming and editing are crucial components of any podcast, in addition to graphic design. However, timing is also a challenge for the quintet, who share similar backgrounds as competitive students balancing extracurricular activities with a rigorous course load.

“When we film, we pick a date to film, which can be really hard sometimes because we all have really busy lives. But once we film we put it onto Capcut, where I do the editing and put in the audio. After that we do the advertising and post clips of us onto TikTok and on Instagram reels,” said Liu.

Publishing in the future

In addition to talking about their own experiences, the Lab Table Talks podcast has recently invited high school guest speakers such as Christopher and Nicholas Kwok, Isabelle Lo, Devansh Pandey, , Tony Wang, and Carol Xu for an interview series. This series will continue throughout the school year and into the summer, focusing on their college application and high school experiences.

“Also guest speakers from even outside of the Bay Area, to kind of compare how the culture is like different parts around the country,” said Liu.

By inviting incoming college freshmen from the Amador Valley campus who have already gone through the college admissions process, the interview series will be able to offer new insight to underclassmen listeners to Lab Table Talks. 

“The people we are bringing in as guest speakers, we hope that they have different point of views about the college admission process, or different experiences that can increase the diversity as to what they share with us and the people that are going to watch our podcast,” said Go.

As the Lab Table Talks podcast continues to publish more episodes, the quintet aims to utilize their platform to de-stigmatizing the stresses that come with high school and create a community where listeners feel understood and supported.

“We’ve actually already inspired a couple other people to create their own podcast. So it’s really cool seeing us being inspirations for other people,” said Liu.