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Podcasts serve JBLM Guard

Raven Conversations connect community with information, inspiration and motivation

National Guard member ultrarunner 1st Lt. Krosby Keller, 225th Air Defense Squadron air battle manager, runs the San Diego 100 ultra marathon June 8, 2018. Photo credit: Maj. Kimberly D. Burke

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How many of us have already abandoned our New Year's health and fitness resolutions? You know, the cycle of being psyched about your new regimen for a few weeks before going back to old habits and routines.

Sometimes the support and inspiration of community makes all the difference, and for the Washington National Guard ranks at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, that boost is now just a podcast away. Hosts Jason Kriess and Sara Morris produce Raven Conversations, bringing guest voices, personalities and emotions to episodes aimed at both connecting the Guard community and broadcasting its role to a wider audience.

Sgt. 1st Class Kriess, and Morris, a major, helped listeners get off on the right foot with their "New Year, New You" episode in early January, Episode 7 of the show, which kicked off last year. The first half of the podcast features an interview with Master Sgt. Samantha Stewart of the 194th Wing, who teaches a free yoga class every Wednesday at 11:15 a.m. in Building 109 at Camp Murray.

The second half of the episode focused on ultrarunner 1st Lt. Krosby Keller, air battle manager with the 225th Air Defense Squadron. For a guy whose job and fitness are so intense, Keller sounds relaxed on the podcast. As he talks about heading into the night section of a 100-mile run, though, you can hear the emotion in his voice remembering the race.

"It gets a little weird (at night). It becomes more of a mental thing, once that kind of hits you," Keller said during his podcast interview. "It drops maybe 10 or 15 degrees, but that feels so much harder on the body, because you're dehydrated, depleted, just tired. Your mind's like, ‘You need to stop,' because everything just hurts."

Keller said as soon as the sun came back up, though, some of the leg pain went away. "I was doing seven-minute miles on my last -- probably -- six miles. I felt fine, but during the night, I was literally walking at points."

Raven Conversations co-host Morris, an ultrarunner herself, empathizes with Keller, and asks pertinent questions of her fellow runner throughout the interview. Keller has run two, 100-mile races and a 24-hour race, so far. For comparison, he explained that the women's record is 163 miles in 24 hours, while he hit 100 miles in his first effort.

"I didn't care how fast I did the 100, I just wanted to do the 100," he said, noting that for his next race, in September, the goal is 120 miles.

Whether that's inspirational or fitness shaming for the rest of us depends on your perspective, but, of course, topics on Raven Conversations range far beyond fitness.

"We have leaders who want to share their leadership philosophies. We have benefits and programs that Guardsmen may not even know about," Kriess explained about starting the show.

"I've often kicked around the idea of starting one (podcast) for our organization," Kriess recalled. "Because the Washington National Guard does so much more than what people see on social media or the occasional newscast."

Kriess said often unseen or underappreciated aspects of the Guard's role include a constant stream of members heading overseas on exercises and deployments, deep involvement in cyber security, and fighting wildfires, among many others.

"And while most of these stories are important to tell," he explained, "they are not always visually interesting to tell via traditional means, like photos and videos. A podcast offers the perfect medium to talk about these important topics to help educate people and inform our servicemembers."

Kriess said he and Morris have had no shortage of topics so far, and they already have additional episodes recorded and more planned for the future.

"It is still early, and things are just getting off the ground, but I have been trying to get the word out any way I can," Kriess said. "It helps when we have senior leaders in our organization who support us, and actually want to be guests on the show ... we are optimistic about its future."

For more information about Raven Conversations, or to suggest topics, contact Sgt. 1st Class Jason Kriess via email at For yoga class information, contact Master Sgt. Samantha Stewart at

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