Jun. 9—The idea was formed in James Deichler's mind back before the world changed, what now seems like a lifetime ago.
Deichler and his friend, classmate and nextdoor neighbor, Seth Fisher, are in many ways your typical high school teenage boys: sports-obsessed and somewhat tech-savvy.
"I think we talk too much about sports not to put all those conversations somewhere," Deichler said. "That's like all we talk about. It would be a waste not to record some of it."
And so, a new addition to the ever-expanding podcast universe was born.
In the fall of 2019, Deichler and Fisher began talking about the idea, sketching out what they wanted to talk about. In the spring of 2020, Deichler got a new laptop and the pair scrounged up some money to buy the necessary equipment after starting out with just some headphones.
COVID-19 forced the cancellation of classes on Friday, March 13, for Deichler, Fisher and the rest of the student body at Fitch High, and a week and a half later, Your Neighbor's Lawnmower went live.
"The first few podcasts, in my opinion, were awful, with the dialogue," Deichler admits now, sounding like a grizzled podcast veteran. "We didn't talk in front of a microphone, we didn't know how to talk to stay in a conversation for an hour."
But Deichler and Fisher kept at it, recording an episode a week (now closing in on 60 and counting), and honing their craft over time with patience and practice.
The podcast gave Deichler and Fisher something to bond over during the months stuck at home in quarantine, and, more important, something to do.
"The podcast was fueled by the pandemic, just being able to sit with each other for hours," Deichler said.
Said Fisher: "We were going to do this podcast regardless, but it was awfully convenient."
For sports fans looking for something to listen to, Deichler and Fisher can more than hold their own, and chop up whatever is going on in the sports world that week, whether it's the NFL draft, NBA playoffs or something else. Lest anyone forget they're 18-year-olds, they'll also talk about their favorite horror movies, albums or candy, just to break up the sports chatter from time to time, but they're not afraid to talk about the pandemic's toll on their own lives.
"I've been listening to podcasts forever," said Deichler, who will be a college freshman in the fall and play lacrosse at Western Connecticut State, studying psychology and broadcasting. "I just love them. It's a great way to convey what you want to talk about and there's a freedom in what you can talk about."
Your Neighbor's Lawnmower — the name came because the pair wanted to center the podcast around NFL football, and what's the one thing you hear when you're waking up on Sunday? — is truly a collaborative effort.
Deichler's bedroom serves as studio — the equipment fits nicely next to an impressive sneaker collection — and Fisher walks over to record. Deichler is more the technical guy, with Fisher, who plans on studying sports communication and media at Rowan University in the fall, as the main writer. Deichler does most of the editing, and Fisher writes the episode titles and handles their social media.
"We kind of got in a zone and hit our stride," Deichler said. "We figured out the best way to do it is just to relax. We learned how to talk, which is kind of a skill you don't realize is a thing until you get better at it."
The experience has also helped both in school.
Said Fisher: "Being able to go in, figure out what you want to say, convey it in an articulate, intelligent manor is A, important in the real world, and B, vastly important when you're doing a podcast."
Now, with high school winding down and a summer that may have some semblance of normalcy, the pair have to figure out what to do next.
"It's definitely gotten us closer to each other," Deichler said. "The thought of going to college and recording has popped up and it's led to us having deeper conversations about whatever it is we're talking about. We can't just abandon it."
Your Neighbor's Lawnmower is available to download on Pandora, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Podbean and other platforms.