Boone love letter: Former App State student highlights town talent through podcast


Xanayra Marin-Lopez

Former App State student Donald Steel at work at his computer. Steel created his podcast, FallrisK, to highlight local talent in Boone.

Jaclyn Bartlett, Reporter

A love of art and a desire to create a collaborative space inspired Boone’s newest podcast.

Former App student Donald Steel recently started FallrisK, a podcast that recognizes Boone creators from musicians to painters to clothing designers. 

“Music’s always been important to me,” Steel said. “FallrisK started off as a music thing. But I’ve gotten a chance to meet so many different types of people up here, and I was like, we can make this more broad.”

In the podcast, which can be found on almost all streaming platforms, Steel interviews creators about their art and, in the case of musicians, showcases their talent in jam sessions. In the first interview episode, Steel spoke with local group The Green House about Boone’s pre-COVID band scene. 

Steel got the name “FallrisK” because he is going through kidney failure and entered renal failure in October 2020. Because of this, he is currently taking a semester off.  He does kidney dialysis three times a week and when he first started, he would often pass out after standing up. The hospital gave him a wristband labeling him a “fall risk” and he planned to leave it on until he got a new kidney, but it ended up falling off. 

“I hung up the armband on my wall as a reminder that I started off as a fall risk, and I still kind of am one,” Steel said.

  When driving to Boone, he also recalled always seeing signs that warn for “falling rocks.” In a way, the name represents his connection to Boone. 

“This podcast is my love letter to Boone,” Steel said.

Donald Steel in his workspace at home. Steel interviews artists in Boone for his podcast, FallrisK. (Xanayra Marin-Lopez)

Steel’s primary motivation for starting FallrisK was uniting Boone artists. He says he has come across creative people in Boone who are unaware of others doing similar things. 

“I want to be able to create some sort of community and platform where these people can express their ideas and their art,” Steel said.

At first, Steel planned to focus solely on music, but after seeing the variety of creativity Boone has to offer, he decided to include all art forms.

He contacts artists through both personal connections and social media. He met The Green House’s members through a friend, and contacted another band, Dropping Plates, through Instagram direct message after seeing them on TikTok.

“I don’t know anybody else doing this doing a podcast like that,” Jake Fain, member of Dropping Plates, said. “I think that’s a really cool way to connect with the scene because it’s something that nobody’s doing, and that’s something that when I saw it, I really wanted to be a part of it.”

In high school, Steel worked for a record label in Charlotte called January First Records where he booked artists and venues. This led him to pick up audio engineering. He also plays bass and is in an indie rock band called Feelings Club. 

His passion and musical background led to his involvement in his hometown band scene of Shelby. There, he met others who shared similar interests and aspirations and they put on shows wherever they could, including a hair salon.

“It was just that sense of community because everybody believes they can do it by themselves, but it’s hard. It’s really hard,” Steel said. “It’s just nicer to have people around you when you’re trying to achieve something, and they’re trying to achieve something similar because when you have those people around you, it keeps that motivation going.”

FallrisK also includes playlists for Spotify users, with one titled “Two Layer Living,” which includes songs he says help him through Boone’s rough winter. 

Steel hopes that through his podcast, he can form connections and eventually help create a community of artists like he experienced in Shelby.

“I’ve gotten to meet these people and introduce them to each other, and then when they say they want to work together, I’m like, great. That’s all I care about,” Steel said. “That’s all I wanted to do was get people to hear each other and then try and work with each other. That’s all I want.”