Week 1: First the Blow, Then the Bruise

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Date: 3/22/2020

“God has mercifully ordered that the human brain works slowly; first the blow, hours afterwards the bruise.”

The Return by Walter de la Mare

When Agnes’s president announced the college’s immediate move to remote education for the rest of the semester in response COVID-19, a wave of thoughts crashed onto my tongue. 

For no one to hear but myself, I wondered aloud about the students with no healthy home to go to. I wondered about the students who had no home to go to. I wondered about the international students. I thought of all the “What Ifs” and as I heard through the grapevine the devastation students felt, particularly the seniors, I considered what could be done to ease their spirits. 

I didn’t think of myself except in flashes. I didn’t have the time. Meetings, documentation, training sessions, COVID-19 news, and Facebook reactions to the pandemic consumed me. 

What the sudden departure of students meant for the CDVL’s podcast didn’t flash into my mind until my supervisor reminded me. Now in the calm before the storm of students officially starting remote classes, I am left to think of my pet project.

Podcasting is Journey…

Starting late January, I began the journey of developing a podcast for the CDVL. Like how my co-worker, Anastasia, has the CDVL website as her “thing,” I wanted to have a “thing” of my own for the betterment of the Center as well. 

The idea of a podcast first came up in late 2019. My supervisor, Lisa, suggested one as a way to elevate the presence of the CDVL, educate the public on digital literacy, and have folks think critically about digital literacy and its place in this tech-infused world. I was intrigued, but not until late mid-January 2020 did I dedicate specified time to the endeavor. 

I attended a weekend SCAD workshop on podcasting and met some great people (one of whom I’m still in contact with). Seeing the community that fostered around podcasts despite the isolation of the format was awe-inspiring. I wanted to help create a community. I wanted to engage the public. I wanted to help educate the public about how to interact with the technology that surrounds them 24/7. 

I decided to take podcasting seriously. This would not be a casual work adventure. I was going to put in work.

After attending the SCAD workshops, I checked out a book from the library called So You Want to Start a Podcast by Kristen Meinzer. I read every chapter and took notes. Full of encouragement and tips, the book got the gears turning in my head. Creating, producing, and hosting a podcast shared a lot of commonalities with journalism — an old love of mine. Interviewing, writing, researching — all activities that I enjoy and feel confident in my abilities to do well. Despite drawing the connection to my journalism experience, I knew that podcasting was a different beast than writing an article or a column. 

Meinzer didn’t mince words about how large of an undertaking a podcast would be. Not only would I be doing the work of a journalist, I’d also be doing the work of an audio engineer, a producer, and a marketer. I was a little spooked but excited nonetheless. I was ready to give this project as much attention as possible. I did have doubts because of the multiple hats I would have to wear, but I combated those doubts with meticulous planning.

Make a Plan; Make It Work

I sketched out 10 episodes of the podcast. Wrote a blurb for each. Thought through the process each episode would require and wrote the steps down. I took the advice of Meinzer and a SCAD workshop host to enlist help in the areas where I lacked the skills or simply didn’t have the time. 

I was unable to garner student interviews, so I sent a CDVL tutor, Eve, “into the field.” She expressed interest in the podcast that was equitable to my own, so I was glad to have her  help.

Another interested tutor, Kahn, was assigned to be the podcast’s audio engineer. While he was not experienced in audio engineering, I knew he would put in effort to become proficient in Audacity, the audio editing software we plan to use.    

Several tutors came together to come up with the title: The Digital Breakdown.

In the meantime, I acted as The Digital Breakdown’s host — interviewing the main guests, writing the interview questions, and doing research for the episodes. 

Despite some setbacks and timing issues, I got the first two episodes recorded in early March. They needed to be edited, but they, finally, were recorded. I was ready to move on to the next two episodes, capping off what I promised to be a four episode mini-season. As final touches, I began to talk to interested tutors about creating a logo for The Digital Breakdown and hosting a focus group for the general blurb.

Then COVID-19 hit. 

Changing Directions When the Road Ahead is Foggy 

Now I’m faced with having to change all my meticulous plans or make them come to fruition somehow. With my mind a little more free, thoughts of the podcast rattle around in my head: 

  • How will I conduct interviews? 
  • How can I record them with good audio? 
  • Will I have to change the episode list? If so, in what ways? 
  • Will I still have the help of the CDVL tutors?

One thing I do know is that the show should go on. Of all things to put on hold in a time where people are cooped up, a podcast is not one of them. While getting this project to soar will be difficult in this climate, this project should not be grounded. But just because something should exist doesn’t mean it will without a concerted effort. 

And I will put in the effort.