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Friends with Down syndrome host 'first of its kind' podcast

U.S. Senator Angus King and Miss Maine have both been guests of a new podcast created by STRIVE, a nonprofit organization that serves tweens, teens, and young adults with intellectual disabilities.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — Every Tuesday at STRIVE in South Portland, a new episode of STRIVEcast is recorded.

The podcast is co-hosted by Noel Thompson and Jeff Goranites. 

"It's very fun, and it's social," said Goranites.

"My favorite thing is being on the radio," Thompson added, smiling.  

Noel and Jeff, who have been friends for almost 20 years, have Down syndrome.

When asked why he wanted to host the show, Thompson responded, "To have fun and talk about what people do for their jobs."

Pete Brown is the Associate Director of STRIVE.

"We believe it's the first of its kind, the only podcast run entirely by people with intellectual disabilities," explained Brown.

Ryan Taylor, STRIVE's engineer and information technology guru, has autism. Taylor hooks up all of the equipment for the podcast and edits it, as well.

"We record it first, then do the editing afterwards. We don't do any live ones -- at least, not yet."

This week's guest of honor is the voice of the Portland Sea Dogs, Mike Antonellis. He was passionate during their conversation, answering a host of questions.

"Did you always want to work in sports?" "Who do you think is the best announcer in baseball right now?" and "How do the Sea Dogs look this year?"

Antonellis also had fun with the lightening round, when Noel and Jeff rattled off a list of quick questions. 

"Favorite Slugger moment?" "Pitcher's duel or lots of runs?" "Sweet or salty?" and "If you could swim in any liquid what would it be?" 

Antonellis' answer to the last question -- "melted cheese"-- was a hit with everyone.

Noel and Jeff aren't afraid to be themselves. They're funny, engaging and offer words of wisdom and thoughtful conversation.

Brown says people with disabilities like to hear from people just like them. 

"This gives them the opportunity to have a platform and talk about things important for them and interview guests important to them, and to all of us," said Brown. 

The podcast Tuesday, March 12 was their 25th -- proving a disability doesn't have to define you.