The Making of "All Things Grinnell"
Ben Binversie ’17, content specialist fellow with the Grinnell College Office of Communications, is producer of the new All Things Grinnell podcast. We asked him about it:
Why a Grinnell podcast and why now?
When I started here last summer I brought my experience working at Milwaukee’s NPR station. Coming in, I thought that Grinnell would be an opportune place for a podcast because there is so much happening here in such a concentrated area. We’re already capturing a lot of stories in other formats, but there was no one doing what we’re doing with the podcast.
In your view, what advantages do podcasts offer over other media formats?
It makes interviewees’ work more approachable and engaging, I think. For example, people might not read a book titled Shakespeare in the Afterlife without a prior interest in Shakespeare. A conversation with the author brings the topic to an audience that might still be interested in questions about life and death and how we make sense of any of it.
How do you choose your topics and interviewees?
It’s kind of overwhelming at times because there is so much going on here. I try to latch on to things that are already happening on campus because I can cover people or events through a whole different lens for the podcast. Narrative stories like the one on the College garden (episode 6) are fun to make, but the process of interviewing and editing a dozen people and crafting a narrative is really involved. I try to focus on stories that are more easily achievable, but I would like to start digging into things like myths and legends at Grinnell and interesting figures from the past.
Is there a guiding approach or format to your interviews?
It’s very much a touch-and-feel thing. Generally, I try to make the content and the questions interesting to any alumni, from the class of 1937 to current students. I want the entire audience to understand and be engaged with an interview without necessarily having to know the ins and outs of current campus life, even though the interview should help them get a glimpse of that. The main thrust is that if you are connected to Grinnell, you will be interested in what I’m talking about.
What are you learning about the people that comprise the Grinnell community?
The first thing that comes to mind is just how different they all are. The wide range of ideas and experiences that people have to share is really tremendous. Being a part of that is what I enjoy the most.
What about long-term sustainability of the podcast?
We are having those conversations, and listeners who are concerned should know it will go at least until my term runs out here at the College next year. I’m starting to work with students who are interested, and a lot of classes are incorporating podcasts and audio into their work, so by the time I leave Grinnell there is a chance that interested people will continue it. If people really value the podcast, then I think it will find a way.
How do I find the podcast?
On a mobile device, search “All Things Grinnell” on an app like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, or Stitcher. Or you can go to grinnell.edu/podcast and find links to all the episodes. For the hearing impaired, there’s a link to the transcript at the bottom of each episode.