pop the fuse

University of Georgia juniors Alleyone Monsanto, Sabrina Lee and Anna Rayford launched “Pop the Fuse,” InfUSion Magazine’s official podcast, in January. (Courtesy/Alleyone Monsanto, Sabrina Lee and Anna Rayford)

Over a year ago, University of Georgia juniors Alleyone Monsanto, Sabrina Lee and Anna Rayford all met for the first time in the Tate Student Center. It was awkward.

They met to discuss ideas for “Pop the Fuse,” a then unnamed podcast that Rayford, a journalism major, pitched to the InfUSion Magazine executive board. But before any plans could be finalized, the pandemic stalled their progress.

After a series of delays, all three girls, who each hold positions on the magazine’s executive board, decided to launch “Pop the Fuse,” InfUSion Magazine’s official podcast or their “baby,” which they affectionately referred to it as, in January.

On the show, the trio discusses topics ranging from astrology to the differences between Western and Eastern beauty standards through the lens of their different cultural backgrounds.

As minority college students at a predominantly white university, they felt it was important to have a space where they could open up about their experiences and speak on things that not only interest them but are also relevant to college life.

“I think the podcast itself and also the magazine are both safe spaces for us to talk about these things and not feel like we’re going to get backlash or heat,” Monsanto, an advertising major, said.

What started as roughly half-hour episodes where the hosts kept to a script, quickly became lengthier segments with frequent script deviations as the hosts became closer and more comfortable with each other.

“I’m really glad that we have such good chemistry and that we’re able to just easily talk to each other now,” Lee, an advertising major, said.

A far cry from their first meeting in Tate, the hosts said the podcast has given them an avenue to learn from each other and bond by exchanging stories, and this is something they hope listeners can impart from the show as well.

“Pop the Fuse” often features guests from other student organizations to help amplify their missions and expose these organizations to students who may be unfamiliar with them.

During Women’s History Month, they brought on members from the Women Studies Student Organization to discuss the challenges young women face, which allowed Rayford to see how universal many experiences are for women of color, specifically Black and Asian women.

While the show oscillates between light-hearted and heavier issues, Monsanto said the latter is done in a way that’s “palatable” that is backed by the hosts’ conversational yet tell-it-like-it-is tone.

One of the hosts’ favorite episodes is “Going on a date with Me, Myself, and I,” which originally aired the week of Valentine’s Day, focused on self-care. The girls said that even though it aired a few months ago, it is still all too relevant with finals quickly approaching.

The end of the semester will also bring the end of the first season for the podcast, with the finale episode scheduled to come out soon. However listeners will not have to wait until August to hear the three girls after it airs.

Lee said plans for the second season, which could begin this summer, are already underway, and the hosts are optimistic about what the future holds for the podcast, especially as far as audience growth is concerned.

Though they’ll be seniors this fall, the hosts aren’t ready to start thinking about who will continue the show once they’re gone, but Rayford said whoever takes over must be as relentless in growing the podcast as they are.

For now, they want to continue laying a foundation of commitment and dedication toward seeing the show through to the end, in the hopes that the next people will do the same.