Two BYU professors in the School of Communications created the “It’s Just Dinner” podcast in an effort to help more students go on casual dates. The podcast releases new episodes weekly and is available on most streaming platforms.
Podcast founder Tom Robinson said the idea of the podcast is to encourage young people to sit down and talk with others in order to create connections, and remove some of the pressure around dating.
The podcast includes students sharing their dating stories — good and bad — and guest speakers including dating experts, matchmakers and therapists, Robinson said. “It’s Just Dinner” has covered a variety of topics including online dating, dating safety, how to ask people out, flirting and kissing.
Robinson’s intern Gallagher Snow said the podcast’s mission is to explain how to date and give good and bad examples. “It’s really entertaining,” Snow said.
Robinson said he was inspired to start the podcast after his experience serving as a YSA bishop for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I was trying to figure out why kids would come to BYU and they don’t date,” Robinson said.
He came up with theories and did some interviews, and when he became a bishop, he tried to put some of his theories to the test.
“The whole idea was that if I could get people to quit worrying about going on a date, and just go out to dinner together, then I could help them get over all the nerves and problems,” Robinson said.
That is where the name of the podcast came from.
Robinson said he started doing firesides for different wards around campus, and then turned his attention from speaking engagements to a podcast. Robinson co-hosts the podcast with Robert Walz, another professor in the BYU School of Communications.
Robinson said he has found that dating is not a problem unique to just Provo or Church culture, but all over the U.S. and the world people are struggling with dating and not knowing how to date.
Latter-day Saint culture does add unique challenges, Walz said, because of the expectation many youth are taught that they should not date before going on a mission. Walz said this means that many young people, especially teenage boys, avoid dating, do not know how to do it or are scared of it.
Robinson said that one problem in the Church culture is that Church leaders talk about going on dates and about getting married, but that is a huge jump without talking about what happens in between. Once youth return from their missions, the expectation is that they should get married, but they do not even know how to date, Robinson said. He said what he hopes to promote on the podcast is connection, communication, relationships, love and then marriage.
“What we always say is that dating is a happy consequence of going out to dinner. And marriage is a happy consequence of dating,” Robinson said.
Robinson, Walz and their team held an event for “It’s Just Dinner” this past month at The Social in downtown Provo. Snow said the event was created to help gain publicity for the podcast and they partnered with The Social to reach more of their target audience.
The event featured music from the band Skyline, a raffle and prizes and a Bingo game to encourage attendees to get to know each other. There were about 120 people in attendance, Robinson said.
Brianna Landon, a BYU law student in attendance at the event, said that dating culture in Utah County is not as bad as everyone says it is. “As long as you’re smart, filter through who you go on dates with and who you associate with … it’s not as bad,” she said.
Dylan Rodriguez, a BYU student in one of Robinson’s classes who attended the event, said that dating culture can be good or bad, and it is not that different from everywhere else. Rodriguez said he listened to the podcast episode about kissing, and said the podcast gives good information for people who are trying to date in Provo.
Robinson said they hope to hold more events for the podcast in the future and are hoping to set up an event with Good Moves Cafe.
Walz said they hope to expand their audience from a BYU audience to a more national audience, since people are struggling to date worldwide at all ages.