Have a Listen: Students Learn the Art of Podcast Storytelling

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An idea started years ago to create a school podcast. After a successful podcasting class last year and the impending Bicentennial celebrations, our teachers and alumni office began brainstorming a plan. Could this be a Project Week? Could this be a way to help record valuable stories for the school’s archives? How many voices could be captured? A collaboration was born to build upon the current class and also design a Project Week where students would head into the field to meet with alumni and set their skills and preparation into motion.

Building skills

Podcasting lessons entail many factors. Topics some days include skills in public speaking, engagement, and journalism, while other days are focused on the technical aspects of recording techniques— including mics, headphones, soundboards, and more. Faculty members Anna Koester and Kyle Masterson co-teach the class, offering their expertise to lead the students in their explorations. Koester shares, “We were really excited to work with a tight-knit group of students to produce a podcast that encompasses so much of the School’s history and its many different facets. The students really took ownership of the work and ran with it. It was truly a collaborative effort between me and Kyle and the students.”

A practical test of skills culminated in this spring’s Project Week. Successful storytelling and podcasting needs voices to share. As such, the class turned to Cindy Buck, our Bicentennial Coordinator and former Director of Alumni & Parent Relations. After brainstorming a list of contacts in nearby accessible cities including Boston, alumni eagerly answered the call to meet and help out our Huskies.

Our podcast project week took students to the studios of NHPR as well as Boston.

In the studio

Students along with Koester and Masterson spent the first days of Project Week reviewing their plan, and then took a trip to the studios at New Hampshire Public Radio. Nick Capodice and Jason Moon spoke with the team about podcasting and editing techniques, further preparing them for the ins and outs ahead. After checking off their equipment and goals, our eager students headed into Boston for two-days of interviews.

Students interviewed a number of alumni including Eric Dean ’10, Chris Collins ’86, Collin Bray ’02, Freddy Petkus ’01, Kaleigh Teague ’10, Eric Phillipi ’59, and Elibet Moore Chase ’75. With our engaged alumni, the group had plenty of stories to share. Koester shares, “The biggest challenge for the students this Project Week was paring down all the interviews. We had so many amazing stories from our alumni, and it was difficult to choose what would stay in the podcast and what needed to be cut.”

Topics included many angles on the history and relationships of each person to the school. Students were eager to learn from the alumni, as well as create a program that would spark interest for the greater New Hampton School community. Koester continues, “We were excited to meet with our alumni and get to know their stories; the more they told us, the more respect we all developed for what makes New Hampton School special.”

Likewise, the reports back from alumni on social media through Twitter and Instagram were heart-warming. Kaleigh Teague ’10, who works at Creative Office Pavilion in Boston, was effusive about the opportunity, even expressing that she wished she could’ve hopped on the bus back to New Hampton with the students. “There is something extra special about the types of students that attend New Hampton School. I really enjoyed meeting all of them and it made me think a lot about my classmates and the students that attended NHS while I was there. Overall this was a great idea and experience. I would definitely love to be a part of it again.”

Finished product

After the days of interviews, the students returned to campus to transcribe each one and read through them for the bits of audio we wanted to collect and share, organizing the clips by categories. The technical work set in as they clipped audio, made arrangements, worked on script transitions, recorded transition and supplementary audio, research music and more. Over spring break, final touches were put onto the podcast production. Utilizing pieces from all of the interviews, Masterson and Koester uploaded “Bicentennial Podcast: Episode #1” on behalf of the team for our whole community to experience. With the first episode in the books, we consider the possibilities for ongoing collaborations, interviews, and topics for podcast storytelling.

As for the future of podcast storytelling from New Hampton, Koester and Masterson shared their hope for continuing the class. “We currently have eighteen enrolled students, so it’s clearly a popular medium that appeals to 21st-century learners.”

Thank you to our alumni, their businesses, NHPR, the alumni office, and many more individuals who helped infuse life into this project. We can’t wait to hear more stories from the field.

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