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Pandemic yields from-many-one lesson for U of M podcast students

Nothing quite like a pandemic to turn an Innovative Storytelling Techniques class into a real-life improvisation. Yet, that’s exactly what happened in professor Robert Byrd’s class on the subject at the University of Memphis.

Robert Byrd

Initially tasked with developing their own podcasts, Byrd’s students were told to pivot amid COVID-19 restrictions that limited in-person interactions. Many podcasts became one virtual podcast – a class project dubbed “Life in Quarantine.”

The podcast features locals from various occupations discussing how their professional responsibilities have been altered by the public health emergency. What emergences in “Life in Quarantine” is a quilt of varying experiences and exchanges between students and interview subjects in service, music and other industries.

Katrina Smith

A. Kix Patterson and Katrina Smith, the two graduate students in the podcasting class, were tasked with overseeing the operation as hosts/producers, including editing the interviews, which were conducted virtually on an app called Zencastr. Episodes have already been released.

“I think the most challenging part was just adapting to this new way of doing things,” Smith said. “As a journalist, I have always preferred the face-to-face method of interacting and interviewing people.”

A. Kix Patterson

Patterson heaped praise on the undergraduates and their contributions.

“We are blessed with undergrad, young journalists that are determined to make this a great project,” he said. “They have picked topics and found the interviews that we needed the most.”

Senior Avana Swan reasoned that being part of the virtual podcast project would yield a reward that would help as she sought to enter the workforce. She’s ready to complete her podcast episode.

“I love to produce any type of broadcasting content when I can,” Swan said. “This interview will be good practice and proof of my abilities.”

Junior Ambria Thurmond helped conduct an interview involving the service industry. She came away from the project with much appreciation for the guidance of Patterson and Smith.

“I applaud them for overseeing the entire podcast,” Thurmond said. “I am sure that editing an entire podcast can be complicated, but they’ve done a really good job at it.”

For Smith, the host role was quite a shift from her behind-the-scenes experience.”

“As a host of this podcast,” she said, “this places me outside of my comfort zone and I like the challenge.”

 (To hear the “Life in Quarantine” podcast, click here. Also, the website’s social media can be accessed via the link.)


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