Each month we interview one of our hosts  to learn about their backgrounds, projects, and passions. This month, we're getting to know Reiley Wagenhals, co-host for the cooking podcast Me Cook Pretty and the now retired Into The Echo.

The Interview


What drew you to podcasts, and what advantage do they have for you over other forms of media?

I was a little late to the game and started listening to podcasts in 2012. The first podcast that hooked me was called Professor Blastoff. It was a comedy podcast with Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger.  I loved the open format of a podcast, and I’m a sucker for free entertainment.

The advantages of a podcast…hmm. I really think that any spoken word mediums hold a lot of power over other varieties because there aren’t any crutches hosts can stand on. Sure, you can over-produce the hell out of your sound design (looking at you Radiolab), but that’s about as flashy as it gets. Spoken word relies entirely on the ability of the host(s) to piece together their words in a way that is entertaining and concise, neither of which I have mastered in my own endeavors.

"I really think that any spoken word mediums hold a lot of power over other varieties because there aren’t any crutches hosts can stand on."

What are some things you’ve learned in your first two years of making podcasts?

Podcasts have taught me a Lebron-sized handful of things. First and foremost is that I am not as good at staying on schedules and meeting deadlines as I thought I was. Certainly as an amateur podcaster, there are some expected delays with getting episodes out and all that, but did I ever underestimate how laissez faire I would be about being a month behind on episodes. 

Secondly I discovered just how much creative energy I have. From designing logos to running Instagram accounts, I never knew I had so much artistic and creative energy in me. I wish podcasting could be a full-time job so I could get it all out!

I suppose I owe a special shout out to my fellow co-host and life confidant Clark. I’ve learned so much about our friendship and myself through the lenses of music and cooking. It’s been incredible. A lot of important life events have happened since we started our first podcast Into The Echo, and we have talked about it ALL, mostly on air.

What is your favorite episode from your podcast and why?

My current podcast, Me Cook Pretty, is a fledgling show, so I don’t have a whole lot of library to look back on. I will however draw on my former podcast Into The Echo for an answer to this question. Into The Echo was a misguided, semi-directional, uninformed, emotional romp through the world of mostly alt-rock music. Now, my favorite “episode” is more of a favorite moment from an episode. 

We have an episode called “Freudian Dad”. There was a moment on this episode, I forget the context surrounding it, in which Clark whole-heartedly, truly, and honestly called me “Dad”. I don’t know what subterranean, Freudian consciousness we were stimulating with discussions about his dreadful taste in pop music, but something inspired his heart and mind to call me dad. I will never let him live that down, because I can never unhear that.

What are you working on outside of Secret Weapon Productions?

Gardening! I currently spend a lot of time at a garden plot that I have for the summer. It is producing more food than I know what to do with. It takes almost daily care, but it is the best chore I have ever had.

I also am part of a crew of folks that makes incredibly weird PSA videos about grocery stores called For The Right Price Productions (4TRP). You can find us on YouTube under our series moniker JAFR. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, it is uncomfortably weird.

I am also technically the founder and owner of Kumo Ramen. I make ramen noodles and sell them. By that I mean I haven’t had the time to pursue running a business past the initial paperwork, and I sometimes make ramen and give it to people. I need more hours in a day so I can continue working on this one!

Any new audio projects in the works?

Ideas! I have a couple ideas, but zero time. I have a hard enough time managing to stay semi-scheduled with Me Cook Pretty that I could not add another project on top of the current one. I also just cannot get used to recording episodes by myself, so that is going to be necessary before I produce another show.

What is your favorite podcast not on SWP?

This is going to sound dramatic, but I’m serious about this. One of the top 10 experiences I have had in my life has been listening to The Adventure Zone by the McElroy’s. This podcast is absolutely next-level incredible. I’ve been in stitches, tears, and suspense countless times, even on my third listen of the series.

Currently I listen to a lot of the McElroy brothers’ other show My Brother, My Brother, and Me, because I am all caught up on The Adventure Zone. MBMBAM is the scratch that my unsettling sense of humor needs almost every day. I feel like I am best friends with the McElroy brothers after I listen to every episode. You guys, if you are recruiting new family members, I am so in.