Three Loyola alumni are exploring the 50 states through their five senses — sight, sound, taste, smell and touch — but only one is needed to follow their journey.
Tim Ferrari, Anthony Rossi and Stuart Hicar started their comedic careers at Loyola. Now they’re behind the comedy podcast, “Statesmen,” which debuted fall last year. Their weekly episodes, available for free on podcast streaming platforms, take listeners on in-depth multi-sensory overviews of each state.
Its first episode takes on the land of 10,000 lakes — Minnesota. Ferrari introduces the 86,936 square-mile state noting its diverse landscape from prairies to forest biomes and the state’s high voting participation rates. While listeners learn fun facts about the states, Ferrari says at the start of each episode most of the podcast is “half-baked opinion.”
The three aren’t alone in their exploration; a comedic guest hailing from the state joins them to bring more perspective to the discussion. Comedian and Chicago Public Schools substitute teacher Alli Stark was the first guest.
Stark, a Minnesota native and Loyola graduate, shared memories from growing up there to snowshoeing and skiing in her physical education classes to seeing live farm animal births at the annual state fair.
Other guests featured on the podcast include Claire Noone from Pennsylvania, Corie Anderson from California and Frank Spiro from Louisiana.
Ferrari, Rossi and Hicar research each state and find aspects to represent each sense. Some are presented with physical objects such as a muffin or candle while others are represented with music or a slideshow.
At the time of publication, “Statesmen” has more than 10 episodes covering states including Indiana, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Oregon.
Ferrari, Rossi and Hicar met at Loyola in the student improv group, 45 Kings. Ferrari, who graduated in 2016 with a film and digital media degree, said the trio moved in together during the summer of 2018, and they started planning the podcast that fall. They decided to make the podcast so they could have more flexibility with time, Rossi, 24, said.
“We’ve all been looking for something that was a creative outlet that definitely felt different and something that would be fun to work on together really collaborative and something we could do at our own pace,” Rossi said.
After discussing it over sushi, the trio had their idea: states. The three each come from different states — Colorado, Missouri and New York — and Rossi said they wanted to create something that would let them explore that.
The first episode was released Nov. 4, and a new episode is released weekly. At the time of publication, the show has more than 1,750 downloads and 350 followers on Facebook and Instagram combined, according to Ferrari.
Hicar, 22, said the 50 states serve as a unifying element for listeners and the podcast doesn’t aim to be partisan.
“I think in a politically divided time it’s something that everybody can get on board with I think because things are so crowded and busy at the top of the executive chain right now we have been trying our best to keep things a little apolitical on the podcast,” Hicar said.
Rossi, who graduated in 2016 with an advertising and public relations degree, said the trio might continue their exploration after running through all 50 states.
“We’re looking at maybe covering state capitals or just running back through the states and covering pieces we didn’t touch,” he said. “These episodes are only an hour to two hours long so it’s impossible to hit every aspect of the state.”
Beyond the podcast, all three men have comedy embedded in their post-graduate lives. Rossi took courses at the iO Theater in Chicago and Second City, and is part of Second City’s improv group, Twisty. Hicar is in Second City’s Harold Ramis film school and is part of the improv group, Cozy, with the Crowd Theater. Ferrari graduated from the Harold Ramis film school and directed and wrote some short films.
Hicar, who graduated in 2018 with a film and digital media degree, said regardless of what happens with the podcast, he wants to keep creating comedy with Ferrari and Rossi.
“This podcast is really just an excuse for me to hang out and make jokes with my friends,” he said. “As long as I keep doing that afterwards, I’m all happy.”
Loyola junior Joe Cariola appeared as a guest on the podcast’s holiday bonus episode, and he said he thinks “Statesmen” is a special podcast.
“I don’t think there’s anything quite like Statesmen out there,” the 21-year-old political science major said. “I think Statesmen is cool because Stu, Anthony and Tim are independent performers … who are intentionally delving into things they don’t understand that well in a humorous way.”
“Statesman” is available on podcast streaming platforms including Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud and Spotify.