Students with The University of Memphis Department of Journalism and Strategic Media have launched a new podcast series titled “Life in Quarantine: Our Stories from the New Plague.”
The new podcast, which was developed under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Journalism and Strategic Media Robby Byrd as part of a course on innovative storytelling, examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on local establishments through the lens of University of Memphis students. Byrd’s class of 17, which features a mix of undergraduates and graduate students, originally planned to produce pilot episodes for eight separate podcasts on a variety of topics like local history and live music earlier in the semester before a group decision was made to unify the subject matter.
“Obviously, things changed quickly during our extended spring break,” Byrd said. “I emailed my graduate students with the idea and we pitched it to everyone else when we got back from the break. Within three weeks, we had our first episode out.”
Two graduate students, Kix Patterson and Katrina Smith, serve as producers and hosts of the weekly podcast series while offering up featured interviews from undergraduate reporters. This week’s music-focused session included interviews led by student reporters Julia Baker and Noah Summerland featuring the likes of Ned Canty, General Director of Opera Memphis, and Brandon Kinder, a local musician. Future interviews will examine the local effects of the pandemic on service industry workers, the beauty industry, sports (or lack thereof), education and health care.
“It’s a big and very sudden adjustment from what we would normally do in this class,” Byrd said. “Everything from telling students to interview sources by phone instead of in person to devoting class periods to the basics of trauma reporting and how to ask questions to people who are going through some really tough moments in their lives right now.”
As producers of Life in Quarantine, Patterson and Smith worked with students to get the most out of their audio recordings.
“We do our best to set everything up remotely in the best way possible and eliminate any background noise that might pop in,” Patterson said. “It’s been a learning process for our undergrads, but they’re doing fantastic. Everyone’s really taken the idea and run with it.”
The first episode of Life in Quarantine launched April 17, with planned weekly podcasts for the next seven weeks. Episode 2 of the podcast, which focuses on the challenges facing faith-based communities, launches today. Life in Quarantine is currently available for download on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and at liqpod.com.