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Making his voice heard: Teen with autism marks 250th podcast

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Jackson Robol, host of The Jackson Robol Show podcast, sometimes interviews people who share his autism diagnosis, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. In the last 18 months, the 18-year-old has had shows featuring everyone from fellow podcasters to pastors and politicians, from athletes to actors and other people with autism. (Willow Abbey Mercando/The Daily Reflector via AP)

Jackson Robol, host of The Jackson Robol Present podcast, generally interviews individuals who share his autism analysis, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, in Greenville, N.C. Within the final 18 months, the 18-year-old has had exhibits that includes everybody from fellow podcasters to pastors and politicians, from athletes to actors and different individuals with autism. (Willow Abbey Mercando/The Day by day Reflector through AP)


Even earlier than there was an viewers, Jackson Robol had a knack for speaking sports activities.

His mother and father would hear him calling play-by-play as he watched soccer and basketball upstairs and surprise if their son, who has autism, may gain advantage from having his voice heard past these 4 partitions. A 12 months and a half later, Jackson has gained greater than 1,500 followers for a podcast he information from his bed room.

The host of The Jackson Robol Present lately celebrated his 250th episode, all earlier than graduating from highschool. Because the Ayden-Grifton Excessive Faculty cross nation workforce member obtained it up and working in August 2020, the podcast has taken off, increasing from a sports activities present primarily based on neighborhood conversations to a wide-ranging collection that features a little back-and-forth with enterprise house owners and even chats with celebrities.

“I interview lots of people,” Jackson stated from his bed room/studio, surrounded by shows of caps, posters and pennants from the Denver Broncos, San Antonio Spurs and different favourite groups.

That’s not a boast; it’s an trustworthy appraisal. Delivered in the identical direct fashion that may be heard on his podcast, it’s also a little bit of an understatement. Within the final 18 months, the 18-year-old has had exhibits that includes everybody from fellow podcasters to pastors and politicians, from athletes to actors and different individuals with autism.

The scope of the present is broader than what Ken and Anne Marie Robol had envisioned once they first entertained the concept of a podcast for his or her son, who had spent the spring of 2020 studying remotely as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m a professor by commerce, so I’ve been residence for a 12 months and a half,” Ken, a former radio announcer, stated. “We by no means thought anyone would actually hear.”

Ken helped Jackson document and edit his first interview, a dialog with Allen Ray Pittman of Washington, a coach whose son has autism. “His (the son’s) title is Jacob, by the way in which,” stated Jackson, who has an uncanny means to recollect names.

That first interview was a constructive expertise for Jackson, a highschool senior who has an curiosity in a possible profession as a broadcaster. He rapidly started on the lookout for future company.

“He’s had a variety of buddies that say, ‘Hey, I’ve obtained somebody you may interview,’” Anne Marie stated. “It’s simply sort of taken on a lifetime of its personal after that.”

It wasn’t lengthy earlier than Jackson was lining up further interviews with different coaches but additionally with educators, authors and musicians. As extra company got here on board, so did listeners, generally just a few dozen however different instances numbering within the a whole bunch and even 1000’s.

“I really feel like he began this podcast at such a important time in the course of the begin of the COVID-19 pandemic,” stated Mackinsay Glover, autism providers coordinator for the Autism Society of North Carolina, who has labored with Jackson for practically two years. “Throughout this time, we may all use just a little little bit of positivity to brighten our spirits, and I really feel like Jackson does simply that. He makes individuals chuckle, smile. Most significantly, I believe he connects individuals with others throughout a time that it’s so exhausting to do.”

Along with his connections inside the Autism Society, Jackson has been helped by a few press brokers who started following him on-line. One primarily based in Nashville, Tenn., enabled Jackson to ebook interviews with musicians together with Jonathan Antoine of “Britain’s Acquired Expertise” fame and with Damon Johnson, a solo artist and former lead guitarist for Alice Cooper’s band.

Extra celeb interviews adopted, together with actress and recording artist Darcy Donovan (“Anchorman,” “My Babysitter’s a Vampire” and “Six Toes Below”) and Emma Burman, a voice actress featured within the 2021 Disney/Pixar animated function movie “Luca.”

Jackson conducts on-line analysis to pick out and converse together with his interview topics, corresponding to John Ondrasik III, who is understood by his stage title 5 for Combating.

“He’s a dad, hockey fan, songwriter, award winner, and simply throughout cool dude,” Jackson stated as he launched Ondrasik on a November podcast.

“Thanks for being a visitor on my present,” he instructed the Grammy Award nominee, to which Ondrasik replied, “I’ve heard loads about your present.”

Whereas Jackson begins practically each podcast by inviting his company to inform the listeners about themselves, he generally polls buddies and listeners to counsel questions to incorporate in a present. He lately stunned Canadian actress Catherine Mary Stewart (“The Final Star Fighter” and “Weekend at Bernie’s”) with a query about what film she would have appreciated to have starred in if she may return in time. (Her reply? The 1980 hit “Fame.”)

Though Jackson stated speaking with celebrities doesn’t make him nervous, his sports-fan aspect is clear in interviews with athletes together with Dalton Risner of the Denver Broncos and Thomas Hennessy of the New York Jets. Nonetheless, a few of his favourite interviews have been with fellow podcasters, corresponding to Rio Robinson of “Rambling about Washington” or announcers like John Sadak of the Cincinnati Reds.

“He doesn’t discriminate in who he interviews,” Glover stated. “He’ll interview anybody that he can, which I believe is why this present has grown a lot and other people admire it a lot.

“I believe all through the method he’s had such a constructive response due to his outgoing character,” she stated, “and I believe extra individuals are studying the message that he represents.”

Jackson has helped convey a message in regards to the capabilities of individuals with autism via interviews with company who’re on the autism spectrum, together with advocates like Ryan Lee, Daniel Svoboda and Anand Prahlad, creator of the award-winning ebook “The Secret Lifetime of a Black Aspie” and director of inventive writing on the College of Missouri. However internet hosting shouldn’t be the one function through which Jackson serves as considerably of an autism ambassador.

“For some time there, he was reaching out to each sort of enterprise. For some companies, Jackson was their first ever publicity to somebody with autism,” Ken stated. “That’s what I hope is that Jackson shall be a car to introduce lots of people who don’t essentially know loads about individuals with particular wants or variety to the variations in individuals. We all the time assume that everyone is aware of (however) they don’t.”

In June 2021 Jackson had an opportunity to broadcast stay from the Common Meeting, when Home Majority Chief John Bell (R-Wayne), hosted him and his household.

“He requested individuals about their meals, in the event that they like films, the sort of music they like, simply little private issues simply to attempt to make the representatives be extra personable,” Anne Marie stated. “All of them had enjoyable with it.”

Jackson remembers asking North Carolina Rep. Erin Paré how she appreciated to eat macaroni and cheese. Her reply? With ketchup.

“I’m like, ’Why would you set ketchup on mac and cheese?” he recalled, laughing. “’I can’t do it. I don’t wish to hear you say it.’”

Different alternatives for stay broadcasts have come on the Raleigh Movie and Artwork Pageant, the place Jackson linked with actress Jen Lyon (“Claws”), and on the State Truthful, the place he was invited to arrange on the fairgrounds for a particular entry day for individuals with disabilities.

“I really feel like individuals, given publicity, see that autism is simply how individuals are completely different,” Anne Marie stated. “As soon as they get to speaking to him and notice how sensible he’s, I believe individuals actually take pleasure in speaking to him.”

Jackson additionally was invited to host interviews final fall for a promotional video for Awaken Espresso, a nonprofit espresso home being launched in Greenville to make use of individuals with disabilities. As a part of the filming for the challenge, Evolve Promoting created a custom-made “The Jackson Robol Present” graphic that’s now used at first of every podcast.

As his present has progressed, Jackson has taken on extra manufacturing duties. He now information the exhibits himself, having taken over that function, together with establishing interviews, from his father. His subsequent aim is to study to edit his personal interviews for posting on social media.

One other aim is to realize 10,000 Fb followers with the hope of with the ability to generate some income. Already, the podcast has drawn some monetary backing from native sponsors.

“The viewership, we’ll do 500 views. That’s not Mr. Beast, however it’s headed in the fitting path,” Ken stated. “We’re humbled and amazed at the place it’s gone.”

A few of the podcast’s viewers, together with some from out of state, are mother and father and grandparents of kids and youths with autism who draw encouragement from Jackson’s success.

“I really feel like his success and his progress via the podcast has actually conveyed to those who we’re all part of the neighborhood,” Glover stated. “Everybody has a task, has a spot, and has a voice. Generally for people with autism, it may be troublesome for that voice to be heard due to varied elements, however Jackson is sort of actually sharing his voice on this planet via his podcast.

“I believe he’s educating those who if you happen to cease to take a second and have an actual dialog with others, no matter means or incapacity, that you could really study one thing and construct a relationship and construct that sense of neighborhood.”

To take heed to The Jackson Robol Present, go to

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