This Fall Term, junior Bridget McCarthy is in a class unlike most, comprised of students from three different schools. She attends Professor of English Robert Smith’s class on orality in Chicago with two students from Knox, two Beloit students and two Lake Forest students. One of the components of orality. she said, is podcasting.
McCarthy said that her interests in podcasting started when she discovered the fictional podcast “Welcome to Nightvale.” Other than that, McCarthy is still relatively new to the idea of podcasts, however she says that the class has been studying the NPR Chicago podcast, “This American Life.”
McCarthy added that her time in the class so far has led her to have greater interest toward podcasting.
“Podcasting is important because it is one of the most interesting forms of new media, that focuses solely on sound,” she said.
She added that another point that has interested her is the way podcasting can be used for storytelling.
“As opposed to live storytelling, a person uses a voice recorder and then later edits the recording. The edits allow you to create whatever story you want,” she said.
This past week, McCarthy recorded Professor of English Nicholas Regiacorte during his poetry reading at the Caxton 180 event. Actually participating in podcasting instead of classroom learning helped her understand the process better. She said that she discovered the awkwardness podcasting can create when you’re setting up or taking down the large equipment during an interview.
Additionally, she said that podcasting also comes with downsides.
“If you’re trying to do something more difficult, especially if you’re using narration from the person making the podcast, I think it can be a lot more difficult to record the right things and the things that you want,” she said. McCarthy said that podcasts can differ in focusing more on creation than interpretation.
Conversely, sophomore Francesca Downs currently hosts a WVKC podcast titled “We Are Here with Frannie and Parker.” She also hosted a separate podcast last year. Downs said she started the podcast because she has always been interested in podcasts told from the perspective of intersectional-feminists and women of color. A few of the podcasts she listens to regularly are “2 Dope Queens” and “Another Round.”
“I admire their personality and their content,” she said.
She added that she also just finds podcasts fun to listen to and make. “Whenever I’m in the caf alone and feeling lonely, I just put a podcast on and feel like I’m with my friends,” she said.
Downs said podcasts have the power to start conversations and dialogues about difficult topics but that podcasting can be restricting when hosts are attacked for their opinions.
“When I’m podcasting, my partner and I can say whatever we want and there are no consequences because we don’t have many listeners. Yet, the podcasts I listen to are really popular and they get hate mail all the time,” she said.
Despite the downsides, Downs still said that podcasting has helped her evolve as a person. She has always been a naturally quiet person but creating podcasts has allowed her to be more outspoken and bold.
“You have to force yourself to talk and fill the silent space,” she said.
“We Are Here” airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on thewvkc.com.