'Making the Cut': Podcast tells the story of a surgeon’s epic journey
Michael Meguid has led a sweeping existence, and now it has been turned into a sweeping audio production. The podcast “Making the Cut: The (Mostly) True Life Story of a Retired Surgeon,” was produced by Marco Island-based 1C Productions, and follows his life’s exotic journey.
Now living in Marco Island’s Hideaway Beach, the 76-year-old’s odyssey took him from his birthplace in Egypt to postwar Germany, university in England, and professional renown in the United States. It encompassed betrayal, abandonment, struggle and loss.
The story also includes somewhat racy episodes of the young medical student’s coming of age, seducing — or being seduced by — girls in the newly liberated culture of London in the '60s. The adult nature of the material caused producer Rebeca Seitz to add a “shocker” or advisory message at the beginning of at least some of the episodes, cautioning listeners with delicate ears.
The story begins with four-year-old Michael in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a prominent Arabic linguist. His mother takes Michael and his older sister to her parents in post-WWII Germany and leaves them there without explanation. She retrieves them five years later and brings them to live with her and their father in Manchester, England. After two years the family returns to Cairo and, not long afterward, Michael’s father suddenly dies abroad while on a trip for UNESCO. Michael is returned to Manchester and left to finish high school, alone.
Despite formative years that were rife with personal struggles and isolation, Michael graduates and earns acceptance to prestigious University College, London. But the wounds and lack of care in childhood cannot be ignored. His relationships pay the price as he struggles to become the man he envisions: a surgeon.
The podcast began as a book. After a medical career that saw him become a leading cancer surgeon, lecture at Harvard and practice at institutions including the Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York, Brigham and Women’s and Massachusetts General Hospital, found a medical journal and publish over 450 scientific papers, Meguid opted to retire when his wife developed Alzheimer’s and required full-time care. Needing an outlet for his restless energy, he decided to tell the story of his life in a memoir.
“I had written for peer-reviewed journals, but writing for general audiences is completely different,” he said. Never one to do things halfway, he went back to school at the Colgate College writers’ program, and subsequently earned an MFA in writing from Bennington College in Vermont.
After his wife’s death, Meguid moved to Marco Island, and began shopping for a publisher. He found Rebeca Seitz.
“Michael came to me with his bio, a 140,000-word manuscript, about 40,000 more than you need,” said Seitz, who had worked in publishing for years and was expanding into podcasts. They determined that rather than starting with a print book, they would create a podcast — which first involved explaining to Meguid just what a podcast is — and things grew from there.
“I had absolutely no idea what a podcast was. I didn’t know they existed,” said Meguid. It’s fair to say that now he does, after working on “Making the Cut,” which ran to 30 episodes, each between 30 minutes and an hour long. And that’s Season One.
“We thought we’d have six or eight voices, but the story kept growing,” Seitz said. “It got up to 99 voices, played by 60 voice actors.”
The vocal performers were mostly recorded remotely, and befitting the international nature of the story, are based in an array of countries including India, the United Arab Emirates, England, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the U.S. Production also includes copious sound effects, including crowds having background conversations and audio such as taxi noises to indicate city settings.
What was recorded in the 1C Productions — the name refers to Rebeca’s less-than-usual spelling of her first name — was complicated by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“When we could get people to come in, we practiced social distancing in the studio,” she said of the work. Rebeca’s husband Charlie acted as audio engineer and editor.
“Making the Cut” now has downloads, in the thousands, with listeners in 38 countries at last count. While podcasts are a relatively new phenomenon for the local listeners, mostly older, on Marco Island, Rebeca Seitz said there is an analogy from their youth.
“Podcasts are just like the radio dramas” — “Our Miss Brooks,” “The Shadow,” and many others — that were popular before it all moved to television, she said.
There is no cost to listen to “Making the Cut,” and the podcast is available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Podbean, among other outlets.