Press Play Podcast - University of Houston
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About Press Play

Press Play explores the future of communication by talking to those who are building that future. In each episode, Temple Northup, the Director of the Valenti School, interviews the ground breakers, influencers, storytellers, and leaders making an impact on the world through media and communication. These candid talks dive deeply into not only their successes of today, but the stories of how they were able to get to where they are.

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Current Season's Guests

Listen to these Industry Leaders

Bottura Family in their Kitchen

Alexa Bottura: #KitchenQuarantine

Season 3: Episode 17

When Italy shut down because of COVID19, Alexa Bottura had an idea: Why not show her father, world renown chef Massimo Bottura, cooking with their family each night in their home? She streamed it on Instagram Live and it quickly became a hit. In this conversation, we hear from Alexa about how Italy is doing, how the idea of the show began, and what the future for Kitchen Quarantine is. 

Laura Gao headshot

Laura Gao: Product Manager at Twitter

Season 3: Episode 16

Laura Gao is more than "just" a product manager at Twitter--she's also a talented artist. In this lively conversation, she talks about her job at Twitter, a meme that made her famous, and how she's used graphic stories to spread information about what life is really like in Wuhan.

Gil Bashe headshot

Gil Bashe: Health Communication Ambassador

Season 3: Episode 15

Gil Bashe, the managing partner of Global Health at FINN Partners, is one of the nation’s preeminent experts in health communication. His healthcare career spans the patient, physician, provider, payer and policy sectors. At the center of Gil’s life and work is the belief that communication is part of the care. In this conversation, Gil lays out his belief of how health communication should be handled, and what lessons this global pandemic may give the next generation of communicators.

Angela Headshot

Angela Oduor Lungati: Executive Director of Ushahidi

Season 3: Episode 14

Angela Oduor Lungati is a technologist, community builder and an open source software advocate. She is passionate about building and using appropriate technology tools to create impact in lives of marginalized groups. With over 10 years of experience, she currently serves as the Executive Director at Ushahidi, a global non-profit technology company that builds tools for democratizing information, increasing transparency and lowering barriers for individuals to raise their voices. She previously served as the Director of Community Engagement, creating and managing programs for Ushahidi’s diverse global community.

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Larry Madowo: BBC Africa Business Editor

Season 3: Episode 13

Larry Madowo is the BBC Africa Business Editor. He set up and leads a unit of nearly 30 journalists spread across Africa and London, covering Africa’s business, tech and innovation in English, French and Swahili. He has been a contributing columnist for The Washington Post’s Global Opinions page and written for CNN.com and Forbes Africa. He was named one of the 100 Most Influential Africans 2018 by NewAfrican magazine. He has hosted his own television and radio programs and reported from 40 countries, and has some 3.5 million followers on social media.

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Asif Sheikh: CEO & Founder, A24 Media

Season 3: Episode 12

Asif Sheikh is CEO and Founder of A24Media, one of the largest digitized video archives on the continent of Africa. Under his visionary leadership, A24 has grown to covering over 45 African countries and launched the continent's first all factual video on demand platform, Yebo!, which started in late 2019.

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Sofia Ojeda: KPRC Morning News Anchor & Reporter

Season 3: Episode 11

Sofia Ojeda is a weekend morning news anchor and a weekday morning news reporter for KPRC, the NBC affiliate in Houston. In this episode, we hear what it's like to have to be at work every morning at 3am, her approach to covering breaking news and handling sensitive interviews, and how she was able to go from being born in Peru and growing up in New York to making it here to Texas.

Bob Moore Headshot

Bob Moore: President & CEO, El Paso Matters

Season 3: Episode 10

Bob Moore is the President and CEO of El Paso Matters, a new non-profit, non-partisan news organization launching in El Paso, Texas. In this conversation, Bob talks about his vision for El Paso Matters, the future of journalism, the importance of local and community journalism, and how he launched his career.

Christian Yoder Headshot

Christian Yoder: Co-Founder, Friendly Pixel

Season 3, Episode 9

In August of 2019, Christian Yoder left his job at Riot Games to co-found his own gaming studio, Friendly Pixel. Just a few months later, they launched their first game, Treasure Hunt. On this episode, Christian discusses the process of creating the game, leaving a great company like Riot, and how he went from a journalism student to a game creator.

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Claudio Cabrera: NY Times Deputy Off-Platform Director

Season 3: Episode 8

Claudio Cabrera is part of the SEO (search engine optimization) team at The New York Times. He leads on the news side working with his fellow team members, Erin Seims, Gordon Hurd and Jennie Coughlin. Their main responsibility is to drive audience growth through search and assist desks, in developing editorial ideas that will serve what readers are interested in across the web.

Courtenay Valenti Headshot

Courtenay Valenti: President of Development & Production, Warner Bros. Pictures

Season 3: Episode 7

In this Thanksgiving week episode, we revisit one of our first episodes. A 28-year studio veteran, Courtenay Valenti has risen through the creative development ranks at Warner Bros. Pictures to become president of production and development. Valenti has been a creative force behind the studio’s resurgence in feature animation and the founding of Warner Animation Group, where she shepherded such titles as The LEGO Movie to critical acclaim. In this episode, Valenti will talk about her Hollywood career and her life growing up in the spotlight as the daughter of legendary Hollywood heavyweight Jack Valenti.

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Isidro Reyna: Senior Communication Specialist, NASA

Season 3: Episode 6

Isidro Reyna is a Senior Communication Specialist at NASA, where he's tasked with telling stories of human space exploration. From running into people at lunch who just returned from space to traveling to Russia to watch the launching of a rocket, the job has given him incredible opportunities. 

Byron Perry

Byron Perry: Founder & CEO of Coconuts Media

Season 3: Episode 5

Byron Perry is the Founder and CEO of Coconuts Media, a local city news and video network reaching up to 26 million people per month in Bangkok, Manila, Singapore, Hong Kong, KL, Jakarta, Bali, and Yangon. In this episode, Byron discusses growing Coconuts from him writing all of the content while living in Bangkok to having 8 offices across the region.

Phil Morabito

Phil Morabito: CEO of Pierpont Communications

Season 3: Episode 4

Philip Morabito founded Pierpont Communications in 1987 after leaving New York City and a prestigious Madison Avenue public relations firm. Hiring his first employee in 1992, Phil now oversees the largest independent integrated marketing and PR firm in the southwest – with offices in Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio and New Jersey. 

Matthew Riemer

Matthew Riemer: LGBT_History & We Are Everywhere Author

Season 3: Episode 3

In January of 2016, Matthew Riemer, along with his partner Leighton Brown, started the Instagram account lgbt_history. Just a few years later, it has nearly 500,000 followers and led to the publishing of the book, We Are Everywhere. In this live episode, Matthew talks about why they started the account, how it's built such a large following, and why he thinks understanding queer history is so important.

Jenny Dial Creech

Jenny Dial Creech: Sports Columnist

Season 3: Episode 2

Jenny Dial Creech is a sports columnist for the Houston Chronicle. As such, her job is to share her thoughts and opinions about everything going on in sports. In this conversation, we talk about her successful career, her approach to writing, and the ways she is able to handle the often vicious and sexist feedback she receives especially through social media.

Olivia Kuan

Olivia Kuan: Filmmaker

Season 3: Episode 1

Olivia Kuan is currently directing and producing her first documentary feature, a project that tells the story of the Houston Herricanes, an all-women professional football team from the 1970s. On this episode, we discuss her personal connection to the film and how she went from growing up in Houston to attending NYU film school--and now working as a successful Director of Photography in LA. 


When to Listen

Press Play is published every other Monday during the fall and spring semesters.

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