Celebrating One Year of Rhody Radio!

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A photo of four people - the Rhody Radio creative team! - standing around an audio mixing board and microphones, recording a podcast episode!

Lauren Walker: [00:00:00] You're listening to Rhody Radio, Rhode Island Library Radio Online.

[music]

Lauren Walker: I'm Lauren Walker, I am the host of this retrospective episode. I'm the Assistant Director at Coventry Public Library and for Rhody Radio, I am the Lead Listening Editor and the Producer for the upcoming Rhody Radio commercials.

Dave Bartos: I'm Dave Bartos, I'm the Coordinator of Adult Services at the Cranston Public Library and I am the Audio and Technology Engineer for Rhody Radio Podcast.

Nicolette Baffoni: I'm Nicolette Baffoni, I am the Library Development Manager at the Office Library and Information Services which we call OLIS, so I am the OLIS liaison for Rhody Radio and I am also involved in community engagement.

Emily Goodman: I am Emily Goodman, I'm the Outreach Coordinator at the North Kingstown Free Library in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. On Roady Radio, I am the Marketing and Production Support.

Jessica D'Avanza: My name is Jessica D'Avanza, I am the Community Engagement Librarian here at Barrington Public Library where we are all meeting today and I am the Project Lead for Rhody Radio. We have a grant through the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and so I take care of all of the business matters.

Lauren Walker: We are all of the members of Rhody Radio and we are meeting here today for the first time in the same place because Rhody Radio started during the pandemic when none of us could see each other in person. I wasn't there at the origin, so I don't know if there's more details that you guys want me to mention.

Nicolette Baffoni: We started on Zoom, so much started on zoom in 2020. Right now, I should probably say the date, it is August 12th, 2021, and we started this project in April of 2020. What is that now? 17--

Dave Bartos: That feels right.

Lauren Walker: A little over a year.

Nicolette Baffoni: Yes.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Lauren Walker: We'll call it a little over a year.

Nicolette Baffoni: A little over a year, 16 [00:02:00] months or so, and this is our very first time standing together in the same room.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Lauren Walker: What drew us all to this project? I'll start, for me, I just really liked that you guys have started this whole thing and I like podcasts and I thought what a great way to incorporate podcast into libraries and programming and that sort of thing. Nicolette, I think you raised your hand.

Nicolette Baffoni: Oh, yes, because I work for the state, I work with all the libraries and so Wil Gregersen was one of our founding members. Wil and Jessica came to me with this idea very shortly after the pandemic hit where everybody was not sure what their jobs were going to look like and not sure what was going to happen. They said state-wide library programming project and I perked right up because that's my entire job. I was thrilled to be able to say, "Yes, we'd love to help with that and to be able to work on that."

Like Lauren, I love podcasts. Big podcast listener so being able to actually create them and see how it all gets made has been a real thrill.

Jessica D'Avanza: Yes, and then after that, Nicolette, you helped assemble the rest of the team. Bringing in Dave from the Cranston Public Library and Emily from North Kingstown and then we started meeting. We didn't know what we were going to do.

Dave Bartos: Right.

Emily Goodman: Jessica says that this started on Zoom, but I've got to tell you all that for me, this started with a phone call from Nicolette. That was like, "So I have this idea from Wil and Jessica and I've already talked to Dave about it. Do you want to do it?" I said, "What a great group of people.” Yes. Absolutely, I want to do that." I had no idea what it was going to be like and what it would entail for me for the year that it has been now, but I'm so glad that Nicolette asked me to be here and that it's become what it is.

Jessica D'Avanza: Nicolette, how did you know that Dave had some podcasting skills because I think that's the one thing we all looking for. Wil had some radio background, I only had listening background as a listener of podcasts, [00:04:00] but we needed somebody with some practical skills which Dave had.

Nicolette Baffoni: Well, you had reached out to me about being on a different podcast, but-

Dave Bartos: That's right.

Nicolette Baffoni: -never I think did it happen? Dave at Cranston, they have their own podcast out of the Cranston Public Library which he can tell us more about, so I knew they were producing that already.

Dave Bartos: Yes.

Nicolette Baffoni: As soon as the pandemic had hit and plus, he's such a generous and helpful person I was sure he would help us too.

Dave Bartos: In my experience, all library staff are exactly like that, generous and helpful. Yes, so I have a personal podcast project with my sister who lives halfway across the country that the pandemic actually put on hold. We had it almost started and then I had learned how to do a little bit of that and like, "Okay, I think I can hash this together with zero money." Then the pandemic put that on hold, but at the same time, my coworker Tayla said, "Hey, I heard that you're interested in making a podcast.

I want to make a podcast to simulate those conversations you have with library workers like what books are you reading right now? What's good right now? What are you interested in?" That does that while our doors are closed and so that was the start of the Down Time with Cranston Public Library podcast. We launched in April 2020 just on a wing and a prayer and managed to make it work. We're still making that podcast weekly which is bananas, but is a lot of fun to do.

The opportunity to take what I learned in terms of distributing a podcast, recording a podcast, editing a podcast, with no actual experience doing the stuff. I am not an audio engineer, I'm a, "oh, it has bells and whistles and I want to see if I can make it do something interesting" kind of person. That's what led me to try it out and I think to be the cheerleader for this group. Then even further out for other folks in the state to try it out and try to make a podcast and reach out to our communities through this medium.

Nicolette Baffoni: I have a [00:06:00] question for everyone because it was something that we were interviewed for Library Journal back in April of 2021 which is very exciting. The reporter had asked, "Do you have advice for other libraries who might want to do this?" My initial thought was, "I don't know if we would have done this if it hadn't been for the pandemic." I want to throw-- it's not really the same question as the reporter asked, but it drew me to another question just like, would you have done this if it hadn't been for the pandemic.

I know for me, the answer was definitely I was always interested in, but I never feel like I would have taken the plunge. I would never have had the time to take the plunge either or just the-- I think it was for me, at least being thrown into this is what made the creativity fly.

Dave Bartos: Yes, definitely. For me, it's the same thing. I had this thing that I was doing at night after work and with my sister and then that didn't happen yet. For certain with the library podcast, I think us all being home and working from home and really, really luckily our administration were able to continue to pay us to do work from home. We didn't experienced a loss of pay which was monumentally helpful. It made it like, "Okay, working from home, I can find these things to fill the time."

The first podcast took a total of maybe 10 or 15 staff hours to make and there's no way we could have done that when we were in the library helping patrons, having to do all the things. I do think that the opportunity in our schedules to just take the plunge on something was definitely instrumental.

Nicolette Baffoni: I would agree. As someone who coordinates state-wide activities, it's not always easy to get people to come together for something new when they don't have a lot of time and they're not sure what it is or if it's going to be good. [00:08:00] Having a wide-open, time, space, and idea during this very specific time made it so that people could say yes. They were willing to just get in and try something which during normal operating times, is a little more difficult, a harder barrier to cross.

I think it was really like a great mix of timing and circumstances even though it was not great in a lot of ways. The fact that this came out of it is something that I think is really positive for me.

Emily Goodman: Yes, I think that had we all said yes in a non-pandemic year with all of the other things that we had going on our schedule at the time. I think about how busy I was pre-pandemic and how that slowed down so much and gave me the opportunity to really do this. I don't think we'd be doing a weekly podcast. I think it would have taken us a lot longer to get off the ground. There would be a lot more time between our episodes which I think would have hurt us overall.

I guess advice for people who are thinking about it and maybe feel they're too busy, if you're passionate about it, you could absolutely make it work, but be realistic with how much you're about to take on. Definitely, I think we would have put a stronger emphasis on ourselves to create episodes ahead of time before we launch because we just launched with a few in our back pocket and saying, "We'll definitely just make it work," which worked for the time, but I don't think now that would really fly as well.

Lauren Walker: Yes, I agree. The way I joined Rhody Radio was you guys already were assembled. At least as far as I know and OLIS had these meetings that you could join via Zoom while we were working from home. I just filled my time with as much of those as were applicable to me. Podcasting, I listen to Podcast so I was interested in that and I think if it hadn't been working from home and starting during the pandemic, I would've been harder to be like, "Oh, I'm interested in this, but I'm going to drive all the way to somewhere [00:10:00] because in Rhode Island, any you drive is a road trip.

It would have been hard for me to take time out of work to go to the meeting that I was just interested in, but being able to visit all the meetings and then eventually become a listening editor and now look at me today, host.

Jessica: Jumping off of that, these are just some thoughts that have been percolating. Since we're all together in the same room having time for reflection which I think is always important but we never seem to have enough time for it, it's got me thinking that last summer when we were doing our strategic plan. I had happened to reach out to a former library professor from Simmons that I had had several classes with. We just reconnected a little bit and I told her Rhody Radio. She was fascinated by this.

I think as a library professor, was looking around to see what librarians in the field, how they were handling the pandemic. There's going to be so much written about that. There already has been, but it got me thinking about people entering library school post-pandemic. How they're probably going to be learning all about the changes that libraries and librarians and the work of librarians. Everything that happened during the pandemic. I know when I was in library school, I graduated in 2012, and we were all talking about Library 2.0 and how so many librarians were having blogs.

It was really an important way to connect with the community. That feels rather dated now in 2021, but I'm wondering if the podcast is the new thing that library school students will be-- I didn't know if you guys had thoughts about thinking of it as people behind us. I think in some ways, we don't consider ourselves like trailblazers, but I think every librarian who worked during [00:12:00] COVID is.

Emily: We had a part-time worker at our library who came on in the middle of the pandemic who was finishing her degree. Almost every shift that she worked, she would say to me, "Everybody keeps saying how different this is, but what does that even mean?" We're so quiet. There's not many people. She just could not envision what the library would look like full of people the way that it was before we shut down. I think this will be an interesting turning point for new librarians to think about what it means to bring people into the library.

Some people are going to come back naturally and some people are going to need to be a bit more convinced.

Dave: Yes, and I think when it comes to all the things that we've been doing, I think specifically this with podcasts, it's a combination of staff interests. The one commonality with all of us is we're all interested in making a podcast and there's a couple of other podcasts at Rhode Island Libraries. Block Island has Wake Up Well that they do with the health center. North Scituate has Novel-Tea. That again was just they wanted to respond to the shutdown and all the lost conversations with some kind of thing.

Some kind of podcast was the medium that they chose. I think that doesn't necessarily mean every library needs to have a podcast. If there's an audience there, if there's staff who are interested, and also administration that says, "Go ahead and do that," that can happen. I think it speaks to the library as not just a collection of stuff, it's the people in the library, the people who come to the library. How we choose to interact with them, and where we interact with them, and this is podcasts.

In the previous library, the library had a 3D printer and it was my job to run it. It was running almost 24/7. That doesn't mean every library needs a 3D printer, it just means that library had a community that was interested in using that resource. I think it's just harnessing that [00:14:00] creativity. If I could say one thing to library students coming up now, it's not you have to learn how to do a podcast, but you have to learn how what you’re interested in might influence how you can communicate with your community and come together with them.

It might be a podcast, it might be a knitting circle, completely different thing. Who knows what it is, but I think it's just having the opportunity to be creative and think about that, that's really what it is for me.

Nicolette: This is my favorite conversation to have about libraries and what libraries can do. I think as difficult as the last 16 months or year have been, it's such an exciting time to think about what we keep from the last 16 months. What we get rid of from before that, what we bring back. There's so many opportunities here. Like you said, Dave, it's going to be different in every library and it's going to be guided by the people who work there and also the people in the community.

As a person whose title has community engagement, it's my favorite thing. I'm so excited to think about how this can continue in a world where maybe things do start to shift less online but this is still something I think that has value. Not everybody can come into the building. Not everybody wants to engage face to face, but many people will. How do we bring all those different aspects together and make a library that works for our whole community and for each community differently? I will say this is statewide, so, it's not just local.

Rhode Island is such a small state. We have such great opportunities for collaboration across towns and communities and such a strong state identity that this has been a really exciting thing to see all across the state.

Emily: I think the best word that you guys keep saying is community and I think about this podcast as being its own community because we've got listeners. We're not sure who our listeners are. We don't necessarily know the same way that we know who comes into our libraries to use our computers or take out materials. We also have a community of the people who have been on our podcast, who have created content for us, who have been [00:16:00] interviewed by us.

I feel like that is the greatest gift that this podcast has given at least to me especially thinking about the time of pandemic when a lot of us being programming librarians lost a piece of our job and a piece of that community that we were engaging with every day. This podcast really gave us a new community. I think that's really exciting.

Jessica: I think another thing that's just really cool about this project is that we were teaching ourselves along the way. I'm sure that for listeners who have been maybe with us since the beginning have watched us grow as the show has grown and the types, the depth, and breadth of the content, but also just our own voices. Bringing in more voices because that was always the goal of this. We started with just each of us making episodes and then we wanted to bring in that community element.

That was our slogan, like, voices from your neighbors around the state. I think as a librarian, what I always find very humbling is that I teach myself a skill and then we teach our patrons. As librarians, we all help each other learn and then we pass that knowledge on to the patron whether that's through classes or now we're doing a lot of webinars. We'll bring in experts, but then we also try to learn new skills that we can pass on to the community. I think that that shows that we're just learning along with everybody else.

Our podcasts are not professionally edited. We didn't start off with these fancy Neumann microphones that we have now. Thank you to the Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. I just want to thank our grant funder for these wonderful microphones that we're talking on today. We didn't start off with any of this stuff. I think that one of the messages I just want to relay to anyone [00:18:00] who's listening who's thinking about starting their own podcast is, just come to the library.

We are only maybe a few months ahead of where you are, so we're happy to pass on the knowledge. I think that's what you said, Dave, librarians are just overall very generous and helpful people.

Dave: That's the thing that taught me about the growth of this project and what stays and what do we let go of from our pandemic year. Standing around all of this grant-funded equipment, this is the next step where it's not just us creating this project. It is the community is able to come in here and also at the Warwick Public Library where they've got sound equipment and make use of this themselves. That sense of my job is not to do the thing but to facilitate other people to do that thing. That we're not just keeping it to ourselves, I think is really what it is.

This is a project, this is equipment, this is knowledge that we have and we are here to share with anybody that is interested in it. The same with Rhody Radio podcast, we featured people from all over the state, from people who work at libraries, people who are community members that are like, "Oh, that's an opportunity to do a thing and share my thing." It's an open door almost to say, "Oh, yes, how do you want to do this? We'll put it together and put it out there." We've done so many that have just been practically cold e-mails of-

Emily: Turned into bangers.

Dave: "I hear you have a podcast." It's like, "Yes? You want to put something down that podcast feed? It's here for you," which is really cool too.

Lauren: Jessica and I think Nicolette was also maybe involved in that as well but I know you mentioned the grant a little while ago. If you want to circle back to that and what were the goals of the project and what was that like?

Nicolette: I can start. We received a grant from Rhode Island Council for the Humanities as part of their Humanities in the Age of Social Distancing grant program. I think both in libraries [00:20:00] and elsewhere there was a lot of money coming in for COVID relief. A lot of that looked like rental assistance and social programs but then there was also a lot of funding for humanities and arts, libraries, et cetera.

As we were in discussion about doing this project we thought, "Well, this is a perfect fit. This is all about sharing voices from different humanities disciplines with our audience and our library patrons. Why shouldn't we try to get some money to fund the project?" That enabled us to get microphones that we have at different libraries and we can share amongst librarians who want to be part of the project, helped us build a website, Then it helped us pay people to create content. A lot of what's on Rhody Radio is produced by us and other libraries.

Also, some of what we have is paid podcasters and other kinds of performers to share their works. The grant has enabled us to do that which has made it a lot more balanced in terms of the workload for us to be able to put our episodes every week.

Jessica: Well, I'm glad you mentioned the people that we've hired to be on and produce episodes for us because that was something back when we were working from home and very depressed about what was happening in the world. One of the other things that I know I was very saddened by and one of our founding members Wil Gregsten who works at the Warwick Library. We work a lot with performers who come into our libraries and do concerts throughout the year. We knew that with COVID these musicians had nowhere to perform. [chuckles]

We were really grateful that we could offer them an opportunity here on Rhody Radio and pay them for it because we know that they're surviving on gig-to-gig.

Lauren: Was one of the goals of the grant project then to be able to pay the performers and help stimulate the community in that way as well or was that just a residual benefit?

Jessica: I would [00:22:00] say that was a residual benefit. I think our initial goal was to take our public programming that people would have come in in person. To spin it into a podcast format so that people could listen at home because that was really the only place they could go last spring. I know that initially, that was our thought of like, "This is COVID. We can't go anywhere. We want to bring the library into people's homes, wherever they are. If they're out walking the dog in the park we want them to be able to take the library with them."

Then I think it transition a little bit throughout the year when we started to bring in those musicians and performers and we were able to invite in more of the community voices.

Nicolette: I think when we first started talking about it we couldn't have imagined this cloud-based concert hall studio library programming room. Where we were like, "Oh, the people will come there and the presenters will come there. We'll match them together in this ethereal nonexistent virtual space." I think we originally thought we'd be creating all the episodes or librarians would be creating all the episodes. We found that because we have the funding from the grant and because libraries reopened and so we stopped having all of that time to create just a weekly episode.

All the time that we were able to still have that space but also invite different people than we were maybe expecting to come in. I feel like at the very beginning we were very much like history professors, [chuckles] the people that have always come to the library. Then we were able to find a lot of people who might not have done a program. I think Katrinkles comes to mind, a small business owner. She manufactures things for knitting and crocheting. I'm not sure what she would have done with an hour in a library program room but an episode to tell her story was excellent

It's a way to connect community members that might not actually even have ever happened.

Jessica: Yes, I think the programs that we've had with business owners on [00:24:00] Rhody Radio I would agree in the physical library space it's always like, "How would they present a program? How do we make it so it's not about promoting, selling, and all of that?" I think with Rhody Radio we've been able to play around with inviting in new people in Rhode Island we wouldn't have interacted with previously.

Emily: Absolutely. One of our other goals when we first started this out was an eager goal to have every library create an episode for us. If you're listening from a library and your library has not created an episode, we would welcome you to talk to us about how we might be able to make that happen. We've been able to see a lot of libraries get involved in some way or another with North Scituate's Novelty giving us some of their behind-the-shelves segments to put together for a whole episode. That's really cool.

That's what we wanted to do at the very beginning and that has evolved to including business owners and just regular people who maybe weren't our first pick for whatever reason in the library performance space. By giving them a place to reach a new audience. I think it's been really important and we definitely succeeded in that goal.

Dave: Yes, right, I was thinking of Dr. Therese Zink. She wrote a book out called COVID Chronicles where she interviewed a variety-- I don't remember the number, but several essential workers from people in the healthcare field. People who were driving delivery car trucks. If it would've been a library program, it would have been her telling all these stories but because we made it a podcast when she got in touch with us and wanted to do something, we pitched her the idea of calling the people from the book and doing a phone interview with them.

She managed to get four folks that were in the book and one person that she interviewed but did not put in the book. It's kind of like a deleted scene almost and put together a podcast episode that to have imagined that as a library program it's impossible because you've had to get five people to come from around the country. Then have this panel [00:26:00] conversation with her it would have been a very challenging library program to put on but it was able to happen in this space. It was a really fun episode to put together and work on with her.

Emily: Yes, and even Jessicas' episode of the stories from the bike path, bringing people from our own communities-

[laughter]

-together to share their stories that like you said maybe wouldn't have been a thing that people would want to come to the library out of their houses. Especially at night in the winter when we all like to be home but it made for such good storytelling. I'm really glad that we did that.

Jessica: I think that having the authors on Rhody Radio has been one of my favorite parts of working on this because we've seen them in many different ways. One of the ways we've seen them is with interviews. We've had librarians giving an interview with an author which we never would have had that opportunity before. Normally it's like they just come and talk about their book but it's been fun to do the interviewing. The second thing is with the authors having them make their own episodes like you were saying.

Then we had one episode that I edited where it was two authors and they just had a conversation that they recorded on Zoom. I wasn't part of the conversation, I wasn't there live when they did it, but they just had this amazing conversation that was very rooted in Rhode Island. One of the authors is in Texas and the other was in Rhode Island but the Texas author her book was based here. I just thoroughly enjoyed editing that because it was a fun way to hear these authors in their own setting doing what they love and talking about it.

The other part that's been really fun for me is asking listeners to record their voice memos and share their stories or their questions. Hearing from the listeners in the East Bay that's been probably my favorite part. I think working on the bike path episode and having everybody record their favorite memories of the bike path they're [00:28:00] just really emotional. One of them was very emotional and it was like, "Wow, the library gets to share these stories." I just think that that's just another way to program that I don't know we've ever done before.

Dave: Right.

Jessica: Again, like what you were just saying that how would we do that in person?

Dave: Yes.

Lauren: Yes. Jessica, you mentioned that you edited that and I know Dave has done editing and I myself have done editing. I think that was probably the most intimidating part of this whole process. For me it was like, "Sure, I can talk for an indeterminate amount of time but can I edit it to make it actually sound good?" I think one of the most surprising things for me was that I actually enjoy editing and it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I'm wondering what you all were most surprised by in this whole process?

Emily: I'm going to piggyback on that because editing was absolutely the thing that surprised me the most. I actually think how hard it was was my biggest surprise. I came in a little cocky like, "Of course, I can string things together. I've used Audacity one other time in my life. It's not that hard. I can clip pieces of things together." Making them go together smoothly is really key and making sure that it sounds really pleasant. That your volume of your music and the volume of somebody's voice are matching.

I think the pivotal moment for me was on the last episode that I edited when I actually enveloped some music underneath somebody's voice for the first time. I kept being really afraid to do that but I finally did it. I was like, "This feels professional." It was so great. It was a really good feeling, yes.

Nicolette: For me, it was because I was doing it from my home when I was recording myself, not having nice microphones and everything, just the difference on the different ways [chuckles] that you can record sound just in your home. I being a sort of perfectionist kind of person built [chuckles] myself a little hut out of pillows with a towel over me. [00:30:00] I was like, no, it's not good enough, let me try something else. I ended up finding [chuckles] a system where I had to put a blanket down on my desk.

Then I would put pillows against the wall. I had to borrow a microphone from someone, I had my earbuds with the microphone built-in. I just did it out into the air onto my MacBook laptop. I tried, I don't know, 100 different setups and it sounded different every time it was hard to settle on like, "Oh, which is the best? Does it sound professional?" It sounds professional to me now, but then if I listen back to it on my headphones, it sounds like somebody who's talking to their phone. Trying to find the balance of just how different sound can be.

Trying to make sure that it sounded good enough for people to want to listen to.

Emily: I was definitely also surprised by how different each episode sounds, whether I'm listening to it on my computer at work, on my computer at home, on my phone through the Google Home, or in my car. Sometimes I'm editing and I'm listening to it and I'm like, "I don't think this really sounds that good," or I think it sounds really good and then I listen to it somewhere else I'm like, "Oh no, that's not what that sounded like before." That's been surprising too.

Dave: For me, I've always been again comfortable with computery things and so there was definitely a learning curve to editing. For me, I think it was the process of finding my own voice behind a microphone. Then anyone who knows me knows that I can talk forever, but feeling like I have something to say. Then by extension working with so many of my colleagues and folks around the state with Rhody Radio and with Downtime. That moment when other people find their voice and it turns out that this is fun and not scary.

When you get to the end of a recording session and somebody almost invariably says, 'Well, that was fun." Taking away this scariness of having something to say and realizing that you do have something to say I think has been really fun to watch happen in other people and also for myself.

Jessica: I guess that leaves me. [laughter] [00:32:00] As someone who started listening to podcasts in college, back in 2007 or so on an iPod with the wheel that was blue. [laughs] Last summer when we were all scrambling, trying to figure out how to make a podcast, I took a class at What Cheer Writers Club here in Providence. They have a podcasting studio, but it's been closed because of COVID. The classes that they were normally teaching in person, they were offering online and it was like five bucks for a non-member

I was like, "Teach me." [laughs] It was an amazing class. It's weird because as someone who has been listening to podcasts for years, I guess I never really stopped to look at how they're written and put together. In the class, they talked about all different types of podcasts. I realized that the podcasts that I probably enjoy the most, especially on a long car ride are the narrative non-fiction podcasts. I've heard of narrative non-fiction obviously. Working in a library and in college I loved taking creative non-fiction writing classes, but I never thought of that as a podcast form. [laughs]

Then they went into all these other forms of podcasts which seemed so obvious. The interview style like Terry Gross and Fresh Air, and then the conversation style like you're doing on Downtime. Then there's the news podcast and all of those things. I guess I never really thought about the genres in podcasting. We talk a lot about book genres, but I never made that leap to podcast. Then in the class, we also discussed fiction podcasts. I was like, "Oh, I actually really do like those," because I like Welcome to Night Vale.

There was one with Allie [00:34:00] from Sandra, the podcast is called Sandra and I think it's Gimlet Media or one of those. Sandra is basically like an Alexa or a Siri. It's actually a computer and so this person you follow along in the podcast, she works at this place. It's actually a person who answers all these questions. I think as a librarian, I found the podcast just totally fascinating. It takes a really weird turn at the end. I don't even know if they ever did a season two. I'm still out there waiting to find out what happened.

I think that's actually been the most surprising thing to me is just looking at podcasts more as this medium of it's just storytelling, it's just not in a book. It's just another way to consume stories. Now we've been able to tell stories. I think that's what's been the most gratifying all these years later as someone who walked around campus [laughs] listening to the American Life religiously.

Dave: Podcast, it's not a genre. It's a format, it's a medium. It's like we say about graphic novels just because something has pictures and words doesn't mean it's superheroes. That's the same with podcasts. There's so many different kinds. I think too, I have been able to create so many different kinds with this one project has been really cool. I almost feel like as we grew, we became more podcasty. We started out as like, "Oh, we're just going to record library programs and we'll put them on a podcast feed."

Then they've turned into just with us making them and with us trying them out and getting more people involved. It's actually just turned into like, "Oh no, these are podcasts now." It's not a library program, it's completely its own thing. I think that's really been gratifying to watch this grow into an actual podcast.

Emily: To go back to our title, we're Rhody Radio. We're not just a podcast, we're a library radio. I think that's really cool where a lot of podcasts have their one type, their one genre that they fit [00:36:00] into. They work towards that, but we get to explore like you said, all these different genres and we collect it all here. We are definitely the podcasting library where we like to have all different kinds of things. something for everybody that maybe you didn't like the narrative style, but you liked our interview style.

We'll wait another month because there'll be something out again that you would like.

Jessica: Nicolette, you probably remember this back in the early days when we were talking about this on Zoom, but when Wil first came to me with this idea, in my mind, the word advocacy popped up. As librarians, we are always trying to learn more about how to advocate for our libraries, for our communities, for the profession. Just getting people to understand that a library is more than books because most people still hear the library and they think, "Oh great, I'll go get some books."

The advocacy piece for me was that big flashing light because I thought, "Oh, wow, this is a medium where we might be able to reach people who don't come to the library or they've only interacted with the library through books." I hope there are some listeners out there who might write in and let us know, but my hope was always that people would see their library in a new way.

Nicolette: On the subject of advocacy, I think at its heart, advocating for anything but a library or whatever is storytelling. Also, the skills as we work with more and more librarians to develop storytelling skills, this is something that you can take to your stakeholders and your trustees. Or people can take with them to your community members who come in and use this amazing podcast studio and attend library programs and learn how to do this kind of storytelling.

You can advocate for anything and so much advocacy is storytelling. I think building this infrastructure of storytelling and effective [00:38:00] storytelling. Especially which I think like Dave and Jessica said, we're getting better and better at that. Figuring out how we structure our stories and how we make them the most impactful, it's going to have a net positive for libraries beyond just the fact that more people can listen to these programs.

Emily: Well, something that I've noticed too is that the people that we've invited to make episodes with and for us have also really taken ownership of those episodes. That in and of itself is a piece of advocacy because now we've got community members who have a stake in their libraries and their library programming that maybe didn't before. Now we've invited them to this space and they can share how they're using the library in a way that's new and different especially when we think about our business members.

Like Katrinkles who may not have been in the library before as a programmer, but now has been connected to this library as a programmer. That's pretty cool too.

Dave: Again, you mentioned Tom Shaker, he did the one episode, and then didn't he just like e-mail another episode is like, "Oh, I made this one too.Here." He's the kind of person who now has that outlet to say, "This is something I can give back. This is something I can give to my library and something that I have to share in a place where I can share it." That's what we've provided was a place for him to share his stories like, "Oh, I want to talk about diners." Here's an episode about diners." It was the one that's just like, "Here's one about diners."

The episode was amazing. I loved it. It's just very gratifying to give that space.

Jessica: It's funny you mentioned Tom because he's an author and he's also a documentary filmmaker here in Rhode Island. I just want to share because anybody who hasn't listened to this episode that he produced, I encourage you to listen to it. It's called the Celebrity Club, The Story of New England's First Integrated Night Club. It's in our top five most listened to episodes. He also made a documentary film about the celebrity club called Do It, Man! The Story of The Celebrity Club. We screened it.

That's actually [00:40:00] one of the ways I first met Tom was several years ago he'd written a book about Rhode Island jazz and swinging in Rhode Island. We had him here and people in Barrington must love jazz because they filled the room. Then he came back to show Do It, Man! The Story of The Celebrity Club and, again, our auditorium was just packed. I think he's someone who knows how to tell a story, especially a very hyper-local story. We are starting to learn, I know I am, from the people who have been submitting podcasts to us.

We've had a few people who are professionals and they have professional studios at home. We have a mixture of novices and professionals alike. Plus, I think we all probably consider ourselves still novices, I do. There's space for everybody and we do hope that if you are interested in contributing an episode to Rhody Radio or getting involved. Or you're not really sure what you would want to do for an episode, please reach out to us at rhodyradioonline@gmail.com. We can start a conversation. I guess that leads us maybe to what's coming next for Rhody Radio.

Lauren: If any of our listeners are interested in hearing our favorite podcast, they will be playing during our break, which will end on October 12th. Then we'll come back with Season Two after that.

Jessica: We have a few people we want to thank. Do you want to start us off, Nicolette?

Nicolette: Yes. We wanted to thank the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities for their generous financial support, specifically, Melissa Wong and Julie Renaud.

Jessica: We also want to give a special thank you to What Cheer Writers Club in Providence, specifically to Jodie Vinson and Gillian Winters for featuring us in their newsletter and introducing Rhody Radio to new listeners and also people who have produced an episode for us.

Dave: We wish to also thank our administration, our bosses, for believing in this project and for giving us the time to get out here and [00:42:00] make it. I think, for me, specifically, at any point someone could have said no and that would have been the end of it but they believed in it and they gave us the freedom to make this happen. Very thankful for that.

Emily: We also want to thank the individuals from libraries or from around the state who have helped us produce episodes.

Lauren: We'd also like to thank all of our listeners for all of our episodes, but also specifically for this one.

Nicolette: Rhody Radio is a program of the Office of Library and Information Services and is made possible with support from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

[music]

Dave: What would happen if we all did it at the same time?

Jessica: Let's try it.

Many speakers: You're listening to Rhody Radio, Rhode Island Library Radio Online.

Dave: Yes, it was chaos.

[00:42:48] [END OF AUDIO]