GIGI GEORGE, Arts & Life Editor—This past week the Narrative Journalism department at Denison held its third annual Podcast-a-thon. Students and faculty from 9 classes across multiple disciplines competed for the Buzzy Grand Champion trophy along with other Narrative Journalism related raffle prizes.
The final zoom event was emcee’d by celebrity audio producer Jesse Dukes from WBEZ Chicago with guest judges Taylor Hom and Neil Shea, who are Storytellers-in-Residence at Denison this semester.
The variety of classes that took part in ‘Pod-a-Palooza’ shows the all-embracing nature of audio storytelling. Podcast topics ranged from Biology, Geoscience and Psychology to Queer Studies, Cinema and English.
Students involved in the event learned the traits of a successful podcast—memorable interviews, engaging scripts, well-timed pauses, and even good music. Teaching these skills helps broaden their knowledge and experiences of storytelling.
Sunnie Fireman ‘23, who participated in the Podcast-a-thon, said that “in college it’s so easy to get stuck in the habit of reading a book and writing a paper.” Creating a narrative podcast offered “a different way to think about the content [she] learned in class.”
Each podcast immersed listeners in meaningful conversations that took them beyond their computer screens. They heard the story of Edward Cooper, a war veteran suffering from PTSD, Dopi and Grunku, collaborative YouTube creators making content they love despite its arduous nature, and Joan Nestle, a working-class Jewish lesbian, writer, editor, and activist whose identity guides her work.
Although there were many incredible stories to choose from, the Buzzy Grand Champion trophy went to Ava Goodwin ‘23 whose podcast explores the trials and tribulations of her building’s communal bathroom by interviewing Denison students who experience the space every day.
The light-hearted narrative was both relatable and reflective. Through the use of relevant sound effects and personable interviews she brought the listener to a familiar place—the dorm bathrooms. However, her story went beyond what we already know, that these bathrooms are considered “gross” and “mistreated,” by coming to a meditative conclusion that cooperation and appreciation are needed to inhabit our environments.