Thank you for your suggestions. I'll address each of your points individually:
1. The sound chip and its drivers are completely up to date. To verify this, I accessed support for my laptop at HP. According to them, everything is up to date.
2. I reviewed both my post and reply, and each time, I refer to Creator 11 in its entirety.
3. The raw clip(s) have no issues. I have listened to them individually, and in the dmse file, and there are no errors. It is only when I export the mix as either an mp3 or wav, that the hiccup occurs. There were no changes in the mic settings during the podcast. The error happens at the end of the "theme" wav, regardless of how much the podcast voice audio is overlapping it. It seems that the overlap is what causes the error in the mix output. To demonstrate, I moved the voice audio around and the error still occurred at the same spot (22 secs.) in the final mp3 or wav output.
I've attached the mix3 wav, and the theme.mp3 (the wav file exceeds the 2MB limit here) so you can see that they are free of hiccups (or however they're supposed to be referred as).