University of Delaware junior named finalist in NPR’s College Podcast Challenge

Trinity Hunt’s podcast explores her relationship with her sister through letters and phone calls.

Trinity Hunt, left, with her sister, Jewel Hunt, walking across a field

Trinity Hunt and her sister Jewel at her basic training military graduation. (Courtesy of Trinity Hunt)

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Mere minutes before the NPR Student Podcast Challenge deadline, Trinity Hunt, a former WHYY intern, eagerily double clicked the submit button. The University of Delaware junior had no idea that her submission, “Dear Little Sister,” would earn her a top spot, competing against over 500 entries from across the country.

“Dear Little Sister” is a compilation of letters and phone calls between Trinity and her little sister Jewel, who left home for basic training after joining the U.S. Army. With limited editing and audio experience, Hunt embarked on her podcast journey without any fancy tools or equipment — just an iPhone and a vision.

She began recording her conversations with her sister but didn’t decide to fully commit to creating the podcast until hours before the deadline. She wanted to share a glimpse of their relationship as they dealt with living apart. The two have grown close over the years and the separation was difficult for Hunt.

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“She’s my best friend,” Hunt said. “When she talked about entering into the military, I was like, ‘No that’s not happening, you’re not doing that.’ But I knew this was something that she wanted to do.”

The Hunt sisters embrace while listening to music together
The Hunt sisters hug and listen to music together. (Courtesy of Trinity Hunt)

At first, Hunt struggled with supporting her sister’s decision.

“It was so new to me because no one else in my family had been in the military,” Hunt said. “I was experiencing this first hand especially as an older sister. It was like this protective sense that you feel.”

The eight-minute podcast balances authenticity and vulnerability while protecting her sister’s personal life. There were a few things Hunt chose to leave out while sharing their story, like her sister’s mental and physical health during training.

“I didn’t want to put her business out there,” Hunt said. “I wanted to be as vulnerable as I could. I feel like that was more interesting to people. If I just talked about it without sharing that vulnerable aspect of the letters and the phone calls it wouldn’t have been as interesting.”

Jewel, 18, loves Megan thee Stallion. So, when Cardi B dropped a song with her, Hunt made sure her sister could listen despite being hundreds of miles away at a military fort in Texas. Sharing music together shortened that distance.

But the podcast also shared less lighthearted moments between the two sisters. There were times when the two were unable to hear each other due to poor service at the fort and stories needed to be repeated multiple times.

“There was a phone call where the drill sergeant started interrupting and yelling. Like I remember being on the phone when that happened and I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ and I was shaken up. I wanted the listener to experience that as well.”

Hunt wanted the listeners to get a feel for what reaching out to loved ones while they are in training is like — especially when trainees are scared, distracted and tired. For many in basic training, it’s hard to separate soldier and civilian life. Hunt wanted to remind listeners that people in the military are real people with families which can be profoundly impacted by the training process.

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“I feel like that’s not something that I thought about before,” Hunt said. “I just kind of thought of the military as one whole. I never thought of the individuals who make it up and what they have to go through and what their families have to go through.”

Editor’s Note: The story’s headline has been updated to reflect that Hunt was named a competition finalist. As of March 27, a winner has not been announced.

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