& Free Trip to Margaritaville
“If you have an appetite for the strange and bizarre, then pull up a chair and grab a spoon for another intriguing serving of Remnant Stew.”
So begins another episode of Remnant Stew, a homegrown podcast recorded in downtown Conroe. After its inaugural broadcast in August 2020, the podcast quickly garnered a loyal following. While most listeners live in Conroe and The Woodlands, some are from other states, including Colorado, Oklahoma, Washington and California, and a few are from Europe and Asia. So far, podcasts have covered a smӧrgåsbord of topics, including imposters, great escapes, and things that glow.
Remnant Stew was the brainchild of longtime Montgomery resident Leah Lamp. She hand-picked her co-host, Dr. Steven Meeker, who had taught two of her four children, Joe and Tori, at Montgomery Junior High. She also selected her sound engineer, Philip Sinquefield, who has worked with her on the media team at Conroe Church of Christ for more than a decade. Leah and Steven—with help from Steven’s wife, Judy—research the topics. Meanwhile, Phil, in addition to doing the technical work, contributes spontaneous, unrehearsed jokes during broadcasts. “We are having a blast!” Leah says.
The Postcards team recently met with Remnant Stew’s fun-loving “Stew Crew” and discovered the energy behind this entertaining podcast.
Leah Lamp, creator and co-host
According to her email signature, Leah is Remnant Stew’s creator, researcher, writer, host, and–yes, its taco enthusiast. In addition, she likes to read true crime novels and listen to podcasts, particularly those that cover crime stories and legends. “I actually was chosen to be a co-host of an emerging true crime podcast, but that one never got off the ground,” says Leah, who has a professional background in media and graphic design. “It did result in me having done a lot of research into creating and producing podcasts, though, and I decided to put that information towards creating my own.”
Leah opted for the theme of the “curious and bizarre” rather than true crime because she “didn’t want to have to constantly stay emerged in the horrible things people do to each other.” Besides, “to be successful as a podcaster, you have to choose a subject you can talk about for hours and hours without getting bored or running out of ideas. We want to provide something positive, interesting, and funny to tune into,” she says, noting podcasts can be great entertainment while performing repetitious tasks, like commuting, cooking and exercising.
To name her podcast, Leah wanted something compelling that had no existing internet footprint. “Naming something is so difficult,” she says, but from her time working at the Texas Renaissance Festival, she remembered a band named Flying Fish Sailors, which performed a quirky song called Remnant Stew. It seemed appropriate, because Leah planned to gather “bits and pieces of stories and ‘stew’ it together.” With blessings from the band’s lead singer, the podcast became Remnant Stew.
Leah had been collecting strange stories for years, and with a new outlet to showcase them, she got busy. Once she had assembled her Stew Crew, the first podcast, titled Balloonacy, was recorded in March and released in August 2020. Soon, five-star reviews began appearing on iTunes. “The balloon episode is great!” reported one listener. “Such a fun, lighthearted show with entertaining and fascinating historical stories.” Balloonacy remains one of Leah’s favorite podcasts, along with Yuletide Tomfoolery. “We record our episodes several months in advance, and we recorded that one in August, when it was super-hot outside,” she says. “When we showed up to the studio, Steve had Santa hats for us to wear and Christmas candy to snack on. The three of us were in such a fun mood, and I think it comes through in the recording. Plus, there’s a lot of fascinating information about the holiday, which has wild and varied origins, with crazy traditions from all over the world.”
Dr. Steven Meeker, co-host
Leah wanted a conversational podcast “rather than me just droning on,” she says, so she needed a co-host. She made a list of the “kindest, most interesting people” she knew, and her children’s former teacher Steven landed on the list. “He’s a phenomenal teacher everybody remembers,” Leah says. “He’s not dry and boring. He makes it interesting and fun.”
So, Leah emailed Steven and told him her idea. He told her he would think about it. He also prayed about it, and soon felt inclined to proceed. Leah later left a meeting with Steven and Judy “on cloud nine.” She had found her co-host. “I could not have picked anybody better,” she says. “He brings so many stories and such personality and quirkiness. He hit the ground running.”
Steven finds there is never enough time in class to share all the interesting stories he has collected during 41 years of teaching history and world geography, so he’s pleased Remnant Stew provides him with another audience. One idea began to brew when Steven and Judy visited Auschwitz several years ago. “I have never been anywhere that you can feel sadness hanging in the air like you can there,” Steven says. There, the couple learned that a miniscule percentage of prisoners escaped the concentration camp. Among them were five who acquired guard uniforms, made a copy of the commandant’s car key and audaciously drove out the main gate. Intrigued, Steven did more research, which resulted in a segment on the podcast titled Great Escapes.
Another favorite story was aired on a podcast called Four Legged Soldiers. Cpl. Bill Wynne, while serving in New Guinea during WWII, adopted a homeless Yorkshire terrier, named it Smoky and taught it dazzling tricks that entertained fellow soldiers. When Wynne was hospitalized for dengue fever, a fellow soldier brought Smoky to visit. Medical personnel soon discovered servicemen suffering from shell shock, now known as post-traumatic stress disorder, became responsive for the first time while holding Smoky. Thus, Smoky, later called “Yorkie Doodle Dandy,” became the first documented therapy dog.
Steven enjoyed introducing Remnant Stew to family members—now ardent listeners—who had never before heard of podcasts. In addition, he is pleased some of his sixth-grade students have become podcast listeners. “I am really honored it is taking off and doing well,” he says.
Phil Sinquefield, sound engineer
At the beginning of Yuletide Tomfoolery, a faint jingling noise can be heard in rhythm with the distinctive music of the podcast’s intro.
Leah: Those are not jingle bells! Those are keys. Those are Steve’s keys.
Steven: Well, it’s all I had with me, Leah. I had to do something to get in the spirit.
Phil: What key was that in?
It’s the kind of impromptu quip listeners have come to expect from Phil. In addition to sound editing and patience with open-source software, Phil brings his love of “dad jokes, one-line puns, and plays on words” to the podcast. “They’re jokes that will either make you roll your eyes or laugh,” he says.
Phil is “funny, laid-back, and easy-going,” Leah says. So, when she asked him to help with the podcast, he said, “Okay, that’s cool. That will be fun.” He was right. By day, Phil is an IT professional in the financial services sector, accustomed to reading boring tech journals. During the pandemic, he encountered the additional challenge of working from home, so he is pleased podcasting has provided some variety to life. While Leah and Steven research and prepare their podcast material in advance, Phil first hears it during recordings, allowing impromptu bursts of his sharp wit. He listens to the podcast a second time while editing. “I sit on the couch with a laptop and headphones, and I am giggling,” he says. “I think the shows are funny. There’s lots of good information, and they keeping you thinking.”
Phil was surprised by how quickly Remnant Stew gained avid listeners and hopes for more success as the podcast matures. One possibility for growth is through shout-outs to independent bookstores throughout the country. When a bookstore is featured, the Stew Crew sends it a poster and bookmarks advertising Remnant Stew.
Coming up on Remnant Stew
Remnant Stew’s entire 2021 schedule has been planned and recordings are underway. “We have so many great episodes coming up!” Steven says, noting that, in honor of Presidents Day, the podcast will report bizarre tidbits about presidents. “Did you know George Washington was also a fireman?” For April Fool’s Day, the Stew Crew will discuss some of the most noteworthy pranksters in history. As before, Leah and Steven will accept listener suggestions for future podcasts. And some recurring features will continue, such as the trivia challenge (which listeners can answer on the podcast’s Facebook page) and Oddity Du Jour—“a little nugget of a story that is completely off-topic and off-kilter, but always bizarre,” Leah says. As always, the podcast will stay true to its objective, which is announced at the end of each podcast: “Remember, please choose to be kind, and always stay curious!”
For more information, visit www.RemnantStew.com, or follow on Instagram or Facebook at @Remnant Stew Podcast. Listen on any podcast platform, such as iTunes and Spotify, or on local Lone Star Community Radio FM 104.5 on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.