Airlie podcaster forgoing food to help free ‘innocent man’
FOR 70 hours a week, Ollie Wallis has a pair of headphones in her ears listening to podcasts.
It's a hobby that takes up more hours than a full-time job and has led her to embark on a mission to help free a man from jail.
The Airlie Beach resident recently started her own podcast with friend James Reti, from Brisbane, who confessed he had never listened to a podcast.
The discovery arose when the pair were brainstorming ways to make the most of their time during coronavirus lockdown after they were both grounded from their frequent travel as consultants in neuroscience behaviour change.
Ms Wallis, who has four sets of headphones on rotation so she never misses an opportunity to listen to podcasts, was horrified by the revelation.
So the pair started a weekly audio show, My Friend has Never Listened to a Podcast, where they review hit podcasts and it has now inspired them to help free one of the podcasting world's biggest names - Adnan Syed - from jail.
The co-hosts have vowed to complete a three-day fast from Sunday, July 19, to raise money and thrust Adnan's acquittal effort back into the spotlight.
Famous American podcaster Rabia Chaudry has also joined their plight.
Adnan's story gripped Ms Wallis after it rose to fame through immensely popular podcast Serial in 2014 and led many to believe he was innocent.
Being the same age as Adnan drove home to her how much he has missed out on since being incarcerated since the age of 17 when he was convicted of murdering former girlfriend Hae Min Lee in 1999.
"The standout for me was that someone went to prison because someone said he strangled someone," Ms Wallis said.
"For a conviction to be so flimsy was so scary."
Ms Wallis said Adnan was even offered a deal to plead guilty and spend four more years in jail before being released, but he refused.
"There's just so much injustice," she said.
"Nothing has changed for Adnan and everyone has moved on with their lives but his story has influenced so many people.
"For me, it's such a small thing (to fast) but in the scheme of things …. you can actually help someone in the story you're listening to."
Mr Reti has now listened to quite a few podcasts, including Serial, as a result of the duo's venture and has also been touched by Adnan's story.
He hoped the fast would help remind others of Adnan's plight, with the ultimate aim of helping support the effort to get Adnan a retrial.
"Although he was in the spotlight for a moment, his battle continues," Mr Reti said.
"This (the fast) is nothing compared with what Adnan has been through in the past 21 years."
The pair say they knew their plight was gaining traction when they garnered support from famous American podcaster Rabia Chandry - Adnan's childhood friend, co-host of podcast Undisclosed and author of the book Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial.
Rabia contacted them via Twitter, pledged to join their fast and encouraged others to join the plight.
These amazing podcasters will be doing a 72 hour fast in support of Adnan, beginning on July 19th.— rabia O'chaudry (@rabiasquared) July 10, 2020
And guess what? I'll be joining them.
Who else wants to #FastForAdnan, let's do it together!#FreeAdnan https://t.co/mJPlRhKhhx
Ms Wallis and Mr Reti were taken aback by the support.
"She could have just retweeted but we've been so excited by the support," Ms Wallis said.
Ms Wallis and Mr Reti have a fundraising goal of $3000 to help support Adnan's acquittal efforts and are close to hitting the halfway mark. They also encourage others to join the fast if they wish.
To learn more or donate click here.