Dr. Tracy Wood is focused on expanding his audience … and not just its size.

“We don’t want to be middle-class white dudes talking to other middle-class white dudes,” Wood said.

An elementary teacher in St. Louis, Mo., Wood is co-host of a faith-based podcast called “We Used to be Friends.” He and co-hosts BJ Murray and Josh Neeley have grown their audience over the years, attracting a wide variety of well-known guests.

With a lineup that has included movie directors and authors, infectious disease specialists and climate scientists, they have taken on topics that affect the world today.

Wood graduated from MSSSU in 1999. He said he explored several career paths, including physical therapy, before realizing his place was in the classroom. In 2007, he graduated from St. Louis University with a doctorate in philosophy and has been a teacher in the Rockwood School District ever since.

Even as Wood was going to school and starting his career, he kept in contact with his high-school friends, BJ and Josh. The three would spend hours on the phone, talking about books they recently finished, something that been bothering them for a while or even how their day was.

“They’re my accountability partners … my brothers. They are my family,” Wood said.

At some point the three friends realized that other people might be interested in what they were talking about. Wood wanted to record their talks and post them on YouTube, but it was BJ who suggested putting them into podcast form.

“We called it ‘We Use to be Friends’ because that’s how we started out in high school,” he said. “But now we don’t consider ourselves to just be friends; those guys are my brothers.“ Often when something bad happens or when something is stressful in life, my wife is the first person to know. The next step in line is BJ and Josh.”

“We Used to be Friends” is now in its third season. As the podcast has grown, it has attracted a number of notable guests. The podcast has hosted author Mitch Albom, who sold more than 40 million copies of his book “Tuesdays with Morrie;” infectious disease specialist Jessica Malaty Rivera; climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe; and Jim Sonefeld, the drummer for Hootie and the Blowfish.

Wood reaches out to a lot of the guests on his show. The first guest that Wood reached out to said no, but he was excited that they had answered him at all, so he continued to send out emails.

“Fifty percent of the time, I never know if the emails I sent get read,” Wood said. “Half of the time I get an email back saying no, they don’t have the time. Then three months later, I’ll email them again … I have to straddle that line between being annoying but continuing to put ourselves out there.”

The podcasts hosts participated in a conference call that included Zachary Levi and Anna Paquin, stars of the recent film “American Underdog,” and former Rams quarterback Kurt Warner, whose story the movie was based upon. They later had the opportunity to interview the film’s director, Jon Erwin, and talk about the experience of producing movies in Hollywood.

Wood said he plans to bring in more guests with different experiences, wanting to have more women and people of color on the show. He hopes having different perspectives will inspire his audience and help them learn more about the world around them.

But having more diversity on the show isn’t the only thing Wood wants.

“Things like depression and suicide shouldn’t be taboo topics,” he said. “Mental health should be talked about.”

“We Used to Be Friends” can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and on their website weusedtobefriends.libsyn.com.