Crowded around a microphone in a containerized housing unit at Bagram Air Field, three soldiers created “The Deal” — the official podcast of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
During the first episode, which debuted July 18 on iTunes, Sgt. Elliot Valdez describes the show as “infotainment” for the 3,200 soldiers deployed with the “Black Jack” Brigade and their families and friends back home.
“I enjoy doing these types of products for families and soldiers,” he said. “It’s really a direct link.”
The name, The Deal, is derived partially from the brigade Headquarter and Headquarters Company nickname “The Dealers.”
“And this is what’s the deal with your soldier in Afghanistan,” Valdez said.
As public affairs specialists for the Army, Valdez said the mission is to tell the story of the brigade. A podcast is just another way to accomplish that mission.
“I can’t believe the Army as a whole hasn’t hopped on this,” said Capt. Marcus Byrne, officer in charge of brigade public affairs. “I think we’re the only brigade combat team with a podcast.
“We know that the age groups we’re dealing with want information to come to them easily. This is easy to access,” he added.
The Deal is available on iTunes and Sound Cloud and can be downloaded straight to a smartphone, iPod or computer.
“Most military stories are seen through the Pentagon Channel,” Byrne said. “With this, everyone carrying a phone can get the podcast. We’re giving information that’s probably been given to them a hundred times, but we’re going to them in a new way. It’s as if we’re stopping by and having a conversation.”
During each episode, Valdez, Byrne and Staff Sgt. Johnathan Hoover interview soldiers providing various services downrange to soldier. In the second episode, their guest is a brigade medic, which allowed soldiers to hear what medical services are available to them and reassures families their soldier is being taken care of, Byrne said. Throughout each show, brigade soldiers give shoutouts to families, and eventually, the team hopes to take the show on the road to talk to Black Jack soldiers spread throughout Afghanistan.
Fans of the podcast have already begun sending in questions and Byrne encourages more to do so through Facebook, Twitter or the iTunes comments section.
“It makes it easier when family members send questions,” Hoover said. “It helps us get ideas for the show. I thank everybody who has been listening.”
With three episodes now available, the soldiers have upgraded from Byrne’s housing unit to the Armed Forces Network’s radio recording studio.
Valdez had hoped to make the podcast weekly, but with constraints downrange, bi-weekly is looking more practical. To find the podcast, search 2nd Brigade Combat Team on Sound Cloud or iTunes, or go to the brigade’s Facebook page to access a link.