"I think I’m PMSing,” Paige Heninger tells her friend, Gretchen Vogelzang. “I think it’s coming on with a vengeance.”
Sounds like normal phone talk between two girlfriends. But these two Northern Virginia stay-at-home moms have thousands of people listening in. They are tuned in to MommyCast, Heninger’s and Vogelzang’s twice-weekly podcast, during which the two gab, laugh, cry, and kvetch about things like movies, peanut allergies, and, yes, that time of the month.
A podcast is similar to a radio show except you can download it on the Internet. When Gretchen heard about the new technology, she got the idea for the show: two women chatting about their everyday lives and tackling issues relevant to motherhood.
Because moms have busy lives, they can download shows and listen to them on their iPods or computers on their own schedule.
Vogelzang, who lives in Oak Hill, asked her chattiest friend from church, Heninger, to be her co-host. Despite their lack of radio experience, both loved to talk. They thought they’d record a few shows as a lark, and that would be it.
But the show caught on. Vogelzang’s husband, Paul, then struck a deal with former MTV veejay Adam Curry, who brought them traffic by adding MommyCast to his PodShow, a podcasting network. Now, a year later, the moms have interviewed actor Morgan Freeman, made a six-figure sponsorship deal with Dixie paper goods, recorded shows at Disneyland, and attracted fans from around the world.
“This really is a journal of our lives,” says Heninger. She’s the mother of five young children; Vogelzang has two boys. Often the kids’ lives serve as fodder for their moms’ chats, from their eating habits (“Why would you even make that?” Gretchen asks of Paige’s eggplant parmigiana) to their arguments (“Oh, hell no! Go to bed!” Paige recalls screaming at her eldest son). And they discuss their own stresses. “I have three boys,” Gretchen says of her husband and two sons. “That’s a lot of testosterone. I’m a lonely island.”
The moms don’t always plan what they’ll talk about, but the conversation flows. Heninger, 32, an army brat who grew up near the Pentagon, is the comedian/rocker chick—she spent her teens hanging out at the 9:30 Club—while Vogelzang, 43, is from California and comes off as more serious.
Sometimes they tackle bigger issues, like a new book that discusses the negative side of moms’ staying at home. One of the memorable segments came last July 4, when they interviewed the wife of an American soldier in Iraq as well as the Israeli mother of two soldiers and a daughter who had been killed in a bus bombing. Paige and Gretchen say the show taught them a lesson: “No matter where you are, moms around the world have the same desires for their children.”
After a year, Heninger and Vogelzang still marvel at the show’s success. Their kids, of course, aren’t that impressed.
Well, maybe they are. While in an argument with her son Taylor, Vogelzang’s younger son, Avery, stepped in.
“You can’t yell at her!” he said. “She’s a MommyCaster!”