DC Tech Meetup / Entertainment / Good Works / Media

Why Jessica Bell decided to start a podcast

The Washington Post web developer is launching DC Tech Stories. It's all about highlighting non-traditional techies.

What do the locals do around here? (Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Jessica Bell knows how it feels to be an outsider to that stereotypical definition of a “techie.” The California native came to D.C. for a career in the political/think-tank realm, but transitioned to web development through chance and a General Assembly bootcamp.

Now Bell helps organize DC Tech Meetup and DCFemTech and works at the Washington Post and is so involved in the #dctech world that you’d be forgiven for considering her the ultimate insider.

But her own unusual background means Bell is interested in people who came to tech from similarly divergent backgrounds or experiences. She loves hearing their stories, and relaying them on. One day, not long ago, Bell was telling such a story in the Women Who Code Slack channel when members of her audience (so to speak) suggested that she should make a point of sharing these kinds of stories more often.

The idea stuck with Bell, in some ways, and “I woke up the one day and was like ‘I should do a podcast!'”

Bell describes herself as a huge radio fan since childhood. “When podcasting started becoming a thing I was all about it,” she told over lunch in Chinatown. But that doesn’t mean she knows how to make one. “I don’t know anything about podcasting,” she admitted.

So Bell contacted her boss at her first job in tech, a guy who is a sound engineer by passion, and asked if he’d be willing to help. He was, and even better he already had all the audio equipment Bell would need and was happy to lend it.

Jessica Bell. (Courtesy photo)

Jessica Bell. (Courtesy photo)

Called DC Tech Stories, Bell’s forthcoming podcast will be devoted to, well, telling the stories of #dctech. But Bell imagines her focus will be on the different, off-the-radar stories.

“I want to focus on people who aren’t part of that general group when people think about techies,” she said. This means women, people of color, the LGBTQ community and others who just generally stay out of the spotlight. Bell is also taking suggestions for people to profile, though — nominate someone here.

And for now, as she gets her feet wet in what is a brand-new world, she’s sticking with interviews that are somewhat comfortable. Her first interviewee? Kate Rabinowitz of DataLensDC fame. “I’m specifically picking people I’m kinda friends with at the moment,” Bell said, grinning.

Given her infectious enthusiasm, we’re fairly certain that Bell will be friends with all her interviewees before they know it.

Companies: Women Who Code DC / DCFemTech / General Assembly

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