On Fridays we talk Stein

March 1, 2024, 11:59 p.m. | By Sophia Li | 3 months, 2 weeks ago

How three Blazers and one teacher took conversation outside the classroom

On Fridays in room 309, you may find three students chatting up a storm with the iconic Blair statistics teacher, David Stein. With just Voice Memos, a brief outline, and 30 minutes of editing, the four have sparked dozens of interesting conversations with sprinkles of lessons to learn from. Juniors Elliot Kleiner, Arnav Nagaich, and Shriyan Reyya found themselves among the many students giggling at Stein’s eccentricity this past semester in his Applied Statistics class. Loving his stories, they half-jokingly proposed an idea to Stein: a podcast, “On Fridays We Play the Cure.”

"On Fridays We Play the Cure" podcast cover

The name, pitched by Kleiner, references one of Stein’s many quirks–playing songs from the English rock band on Fridays, whether in class or at lunch. Each episode of “On Fridays We Play the Cure” is roughly 18 minutes and is released every other week. So far, the four episodes have covered topics ranging from college admissions, New Year’s resolutions, trivia, and sports, not boxing itself in one category of conversation. What is consistent, however, is Stein’s command of attention; his tangents, whether about his unconventional junior high or his national rock-paper-scissors championship experiences are what make the podcast special.

Much of the podcast’s core is the timeless anecdotes Stein repeats to each incoming year of his students. “We take a lot from the stories he's randomly taught us in class or outside of class–not even full stories but [also] things we know he's interested in,” Kleiner says. For instance, in a trivia episode, the student hosts not-so-subtly transitioned a question about Nike sneakers to a story Stein’s former pitch on shoe contracts for teachers, which Stein playfully called them out on.

Although the hosts have incorporated an outline of topics they want to cover for each episode, they want to capture Stein’s authentic storytelling capabilities, guiding him with prompts without resorting to cutting him off. “We want it to be natural. We don't have a script for him to follow,” Reyya says. 

The hosts manage to not take themselves too seriously when balancing serious conversations with Stein’s silliness. Stein himself often intertwines his fantastical experiences with moral lessons to achieve this equilibrium. “Part of the reason why we wanted Stein so much to join our podcast is because he's really good at [balancing seriousness with fun] naturally in class already,” Nagaich says.” Even when covering serious issues such as the scam of arbitrary college rankings, the three often keep the conversation on track with guiding questions and alternative perspectives. 

With only four episodes, “On Fridays We Play the Cure” has seen drastic improvements. In the most recent episode, titled “On Fridays We Talk Foodball,” the podcast featured their first guest–Blair math teacher Edward Kirk–leading to a fun debate on football versus baseball from the teachers and laughter from the student hosts. Reyya is eager to invite more guests as their podcast advances in both production and structure. “Consistently over the past four episodes, our growth has been [visible]. When you listen to the episodes, they get better; they get more natural; they get funnier, easier to listen to. So I'm excited to see that and excited to have new guests [because of it],” he says. 

Because Stein will no longer be at Blair when he serves as the Montgomery County Education Association (MCEA) president, the future of “On Fridays We Play the Cure” remains uncertain. While the hosts are proud of his victory, his remaining episodes will feel bittersweet for the hosts and the viewers alike. Kleiner, Nagaich, and Reyya hope to continue occasional episodes with Stein during his presidency next year with options such as Zoom. 

In a way, “On Fridays We Play the Cure” memorializes Stein’s stories and quirky essence. As the podcast gains more followers and listeners through word of mouth, his experiences become more accessible to those even outside of his statistics classes. “[Stein is] a really integral part of our podcast, [but also] the Blair community,” Nagaich says.

Check out the latest episode of their podcast on Spotify here.

Last updated: March 2, 2024, midnight

Sophia Li. Hey, it's Sophia, SCO's blog editor and fact checker! I love eating hot pot and any other spicy foods. More »

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