Erin Gannon can be pretty fearless. One day she told Unabridged Press founder and longtime reporter Jennifer Szweda Jordan that her dream was to be on the radio, too. Jordan didn’t hesitate and got to work teaching Gannon, who has Down syndrome, the ins and outs of the profession.
Together their work planted the seeds for the project Look Who’s Here! All-Abilities Media, an audio and video podcast that provides news and features for and about the disabilities community. What makes this show special is that a majority of the reporting and production work is done by people who have disabilities.
After only a year in production, Look Who’s Here! has already garnered two Golden Quill awards from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, plus ACHIEVA’s 2018 Yvonne Zanos Excellence in Media award. Interest in the podcast has grown, and now the crew is ready to take the show on the road with Look Who’s Here! Carpool Karaoke Edition.
Like The Late Late Show host James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke series, this podcast will have Gannon jamming in the passenger seat of a car while she interviews local newsmakers. The first musical guest scheduled is Broadway, TV and film actor Billy Hartung. The Pittsburgh native is also the Executive Director of Center for Theater Arts, a Point Park University alumni, and father of 6. Gannon has big plans when asked about her future guest list. “I want to interview Reba McIntyre. She’s the best and my favorite performer.”
Awesome Pittsburgh has awarded Jordan a $1,000 grant for the Look Who’s Here! series, which she plans on using towards production expenses. Filming is expected to start mid-November, with completion of the episode by the end of the year. Jordan, who has a parallel career caregiving for people with intellectual disabilities at Emmaus Community of Pittsburgh, says it’s a timely project given Pennsylvania, like other states, are increasingly integrating people with disabilities in the workforce and community. Unfortunately, she says, the special needs community faces an uphill battle as many people still don’t interact with them. She added,
“Our carpool karaoke video episode will demonstrate that people with disabilities often have the same human curiosity and joy in music and good conversation that connects us all, whether or not we identify as having a disability.”
Awesome Pittsburgh Trustee Lauri Fink agrees.
“The key to change is championing equality and inclusion. Awesome Pittsburgh believes projects like Look Who’s Here! will empower Pittsburgh residents with disabilities by giving them a more significant voice and role through the media. Pittsburgh can lead the way in showing what a more inclusive, welcoming society we can all be.”