Years of interviewing and writing human interest stories for publication made writer Lisa Gregory curious about the human condition. So, when she decided to do a podcast, the name came easy.
With help from her producer, son Caelan, The Human Condition with Lisa Gregory was born. Each podcast, done from a studio set up in her Taneytown home, is an inspirational bundle that wraps itself around the heart, something Gregory believes is important, especially in today’s world.
“People are hungry,” she said. “There’s so much screaming and yelling and anger in the world and sometimes it’s the loudest voice that gets the attention, but there are great people out there doing good things. I want to educate and inspire and give hope.”
That’s what Gregory’s podcasts do — from the story about two men who started baking and delivering cookies to essential workers, to animal rescues, to those who turn tragedy into good. Some focus on friends who may be different in one way or another but have found a way to turn their differences into messages others can hold onto.
According to Gregory, it all started after she did an article on Christopher Nusbaum, a Taneytown resident who advocates for those who are blind, like him.
“I think I went into [that interview] with preconceived notions about what life is like when you’re blind, but then I went on a journey with him and learned some things,” she said.
Nusbaum remembered that interview. He said the story she wrote made him want her as a guest on his live internet talk show, “The Blind Side.”
“She was a great example of someone who went into a story about a blind person thinking she was going to do one thing but coming out with a different perspective. I wanted our listeners to hear from her directly,” he said.
After the show, Nusbaum, who is a senior at University of Lynchburg, said he and his producer, Clara Deitz wondered why Gregory didn’t have a show of her own.
“She is really good at getting a guest or interviewee to open up to her, to have a very relaxed conversation and to, in a lot of ways, be vulnerable on the topic she is exploring,” Nusbaum said. “I thought, what better way to expand our horizons than to tap into those resources and her wonderful interview style?”
Nusbaum wanted Gregory to do a live show on the station he was with — 195 The Globe. The invitation got Gregory and her son talking about podcasts.
“He has the expertise,” she said of her son, who at the time was working for Three Roads Communications on a number of productions, including several that aired on PBS.
With a list of favorite people that she’d written about, and a goal of giving a voice to those who may not have one, the podcast launched in the fall of 2019.
“I love human interest stories,” Gregory said. “They are my favorite thing to do. We wanted to explore all facets of the human condition.”
It is hard for her to name a favorite of all her podcasts.
“Because they are so different,” Gregory said.
Everything from a child being murdered and how the family turned it into something positive, to animals being saved, a piece on an autistic a band member, and the one on the woman who cuts hair for the homeless and has done thousands and thousands of haircuts.
“But one of my favorites is about little person, Cheyanne Stonesifer, who was the first to compete at the Miss Maryland USA pageant,” Gregory said. “She stood tall beside all those long-legged beauties and held her own. She admitted it was scary and intimidating, but it was important to her to send a message. I think she sort of sums up the human condition.”
Gregory describes herself as first and foremost, a writer, a journalist. Over the years she has written for the Carroll County Times, Hagerstown Magazine, Frederick Magazine, Celebrate Gettysburg, Baltimore Style and Baltimore’s Child. But her podcasts reach outside the region to a much wider audience.
According to Caelan, the podcast finds a home on Buzzsprout, a web hosting site that puts it out on Apple, Spotify, Google and other places podcasts can be found.
“In terms of people keeping in contact with us and keeping updated, we do have the website, and we have a Facebook page,” he said. “Anyone on Spotify or Apple can search for The Human Condition with Lisa Gregory.”
Caelan said most podcasts last 1 to 3 hours, but they limit their shows to about a half hour, an easy listen when jogging, driving or just taking a break at home.
Hanover, Pennsylvania resident Sheila Zent is a regular listener.
“I do a job that is somewhat mechanical, and my mind is free to listen to whatever I want. Lisa’s energy is great, but mostly, it is her gentleness,” Zent said of why she is drawn to The Human Condition with Lisa Gregory. “She has a gentle approach to interviewing people, and I have learned a lot of things from her podcasts.”
Zent spoke of one of the podcasts, about a pet rescue.
“I’m not even a pet person but the quirkiness of the women who started the pet rescue was so interesting to me. It touched me in a way I hadn’t expected,” Zent said. “Her podcasts are great for listeners who are interested in feel-good people stories. We all need that these days. Lisa is very relaxed and lets them tell their story without interruption.”
When it comes to content, Caelan says his mom shines.
“I can focus on the production while she is looking for excellent guests who meet the narrative for The Human Condition. We didn’t go into this to make money,” he said. “It was just to bring attention to these people who are doing great things.”
When asked about his favorite show, Caelan spoke of how each episode stands alone, different from the next and the next, but he did have one in mind.
“My favorite was when she interviewed Jack Gurecki, the singer for my band, Ignite the Fire. He talked about being on the autism spectrum. Obviously, I know him, but I wondered, how well do I really know him? And it was eye-opening. This was Jack, being so forthright. It wasn’t easy, but it was important to him that people understand him. Talk about courage. This is what the podcast is all about.”
Caelan said during that interview, even Jack’s dad learned things he didn’t know about his own son. In addition, their friend, Brian Bertolette — who also has a son with autism — drew from the podcast.
“After that episode, Brian asked if he could play the interview on his [internet] show during his station’s annual 36 Hours for Autism Radiothon,” Gregory said. “He has since played the episode twice during this annual radiothon. He represents the best of what I hope the show becomes — inspiring, educational, bringing hope.”
In the beginning, Gregory’s stories were mostly local — drawn from the many individuals she’d written about in the past. But her outreach grew. Soon, people were reaching out to ask if they could come on the show, including the guys from Cookies for Caregivers, who had already been in People Magazine, on the Today Show and on Rachael Ray.
“I am drawn to stories like that,” Gregory said. “Even when we do something that is not, like the one on the baby that was murdered, it is because good came from it. [This family] took something so horrible and turned it into something so good, that ended up in them changing the law. They were so forthright and honest. You want to talk about a phoenix rising from the ashes… That is so important.”
The Human Condition with Lisa Gregory always shares a message that is good and pure.
“It’s her empathy and her relation to people,” Nusbaum said. “In a time when the news cycle focuses on everything that’s bad about humanity, it’s important for us to – even for the sake of our own sanity – put all of that into perspective by taking into account the whole person, the whole nature of the people around us.
“One of the best ways to do that is hearing the intimate, personal stories of the people around us, people who aren’t famous, people who don’t create 10 second soundbites for the news, but people who make a real impact on the world around them and the lives they touch. Those are the people that Lisa interviews. If you want that perspective, look no further than Lisa’s podcast.”
Check out The Human Condition with Lisa Gregory here: https://thehumanconditionpodcast.com/podcast.