Two ND state penitentiary residents start ‘Chainz 2 Changed’ podcast

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 5:28 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - When people go to prison, it can seem like they disappear from society.

Two residents at the North Dakota State Penitentiary are letting the world in with their new podcast.

“I want people to know that just because we’re in prison doesn’t mean we’re not human,” said Zach Schmidkunz, co-host and co-producer.

A renovated prison cell is now a workspace for a podcast made by two residents of the North Dakota State Penitentiary.

“It means a lot. It gives us an opportunity to feel human again,” said Antonio Stridiron, co-host and co-producer.

With help from donors and a business plan, Schmidkunz and Stridiron were able to kick off their “Chainz 2 Changed” podcast this year.

“And of course, everything in prison is a process, and it took a while to to get there,” said Stridiron.

“A while,” in this case, means more than six years trying to jump-start the project, but they say the wait was worth it.

“It’s fun to edit because you get to go back and hear the work. It reminds me of stuff I did on the outside before I got to prison,” said Stridiron.

If you’re looking to tune into the podcast, you’ll hear Schmidkunz and Stridiron interviewing fellow residents and high-ranking staff members to get different perspectives on the prison system.

One of the biggest takeaways they want people to get from listening to their work is to reduce stereotypes of people in prison. They want people to know those who are locked up are more than what they did to get in there.

“People, I think, forget about people when they go to prison. ‘You did this, now you’re here for x amount of years,’” said Schmidkunz. “But when people are getting out of prison, these people also want to know, ‘Hey, what did you do with your life while you were in prison? Are you going to be the same person when you got in or are you going to be the same?’ People need to know that people are working on themselves in here.”

Schmidkunz and Stridiron are continuing to not only work on the podcast, but to work on their own lives, as well by being mentors to younger residents in their unit.

“People can change, no matter what they’ve done in the past. They overcome it — they can change. And if we can change, maybe the world and community can change and give us a second chance,” said Stridiron.

They say the second chances they have been given led to this podcast, which they hope gives second chances to others.

Schmidkunz and Stridiron renovated the cell themselves with help from another resident in their unit.

You can find the four episodes of the “Chainz 2 Changed” podcast on Spotify, iHeart and by clicking here.

New episodes drop every other Monday.