Sometimes stand-out audio stories can happen in the most surprising places. This year, the Grand Champion winner of Denison’s Podcast-a-thon — a highly-animated, annual audio story competition — reported on the sights, sounds, and experiences of a women’s bathroom.
Each year, Narrative Journalism at Denison’s Podcast-a-thon gathers students and faculty from across several disciplines to tell unique audio stories. This year’s Podcast-a-thon engaged over 250 students and faculty from 9 classes, mentored by audio professionals. Grand Champion Ava Goodwin ‘23, an English major and studio art minor, brought her own creative twist to the contest.
“I chose the bathroom because I thought it would be comical and populated,” says Goodwin. “…it’s a space where interactions happen often, but also gives periods of solitude. Once I recorded the audio of me sitting and observing in the bathroom, I knew I wanted some interviews to make the tape more engaging.”
Goodwin was part of the class that won the Buzzy Grand Champion trophy for her podcast “First Floor Crawford Bathroom.” Although Goodwin’s audio story won, the trophy ultimately goes to the department represented by the winner.
The assignment came out of a cross-listed course taught by James Weaver, on behalf of the Environmental Studies and English departments. Goodwin enjoyed putting her creative energy to work: she immersed herself in observing the space, interviewed friends on their perspectives of the communal bathrooms, added a quote from their reading assignments, and finally, she added some shower faucet, blow dryer, teeth brushing sound effects to put it all together.
“Working on the podcast was fun and I really liked it because I got to be creative,” says Goodwin. “I think creative projects like this one are where I thrive.”
A newcomer to the Podcast-a-thon, Weaver is now convinced that adding this creative storytelling approach to assignments on his syllabus is worth continuing.
“While I’m not going to be teaching the same class during the next Podcast-a-thon, I’m already thinking of ways I might integrate another podcast assignment into my other courses,” says Weaver.
And that is exactly the goal of Narrative Journalism’s “Writing in Place” grant, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Faculty and students are exploring new territory as they learn new and creative ways to tell stories about place.