I don’t know that I’ve ever had a long-term project that I enjoyed as much as I have enjoyed creating a podcast for this class. The Rest of History, or TRoH, to our loyal fans, is a history podcast created for an audience that hasn’t seen much historical media created with them in mind, and for people who are interested in learning history through hearing stories told in a way that reaches them. Making this with Sam has been a very valuable experience for me as a public historian-in-training, and it has also been incredibly fun!
Sam and I were able to take a multifaceted approach to creating this podcast. Because, of course, we had the entire semester to come up with material, we weren’t on quite as much of a time crunch as podcasters who release new episodes every single week. Nevertheless, as complete rookies, we definitely benefitted from having a longer time in which we could ideate—and ideate we did. The basis of our podcast was, of course, the actual historical material. Sam and I think we are very entertaining on our own, but without a real premise and storyline in mind, we wouldn’t have had enough stand-up material or hilarious real-life moments to fill four entire recorded episodes.
We divided and conquered when it came to our content. Our format demanded that each of us outline our respective “host” episodes separately; one of us would serve as the storyteller and one of us would be hearing the story for the first time. The commentator always went in completely blind, which was both a blessing and a curse. I couldn’t bounce ideas off of Sam or figure out how to word things quite the way I wanted to if I needed to get unstuck, but I also knew that I was going to be able to surprise and shock Sam with what I could think of ahead of time (often with hysterical results).
Recording a podcast was, of course, a time-intensive endeavor; across our trailer and four episodes, we recorded almost ten hours of raw material. We had originally envisioned our episodes being somewhat on the shorter side—perhaps 20-30 minutes each. Both of us definitely came very, very prepared to the recording sessions that we were responsible for hosting, so we had more than enough material to record and then to subsequently deal with. I think we both realize that that was probably for the best, though, because it certainly would have been disappointing if our episodes had less-than-satisfactory material.
When it came to preparing our episodes to be made available digitally, we divided up the work again. My primary task was doing all of the audio editing and mixing for the episodes; this was something I was familiar with, because I have been participating in creating music for all of my life. Of course, podcasts differ from music in one key way; whereas a musical score is predictable and one should know exactly how long it should take to record, our podcast relied heavily on improvisation. Between our extended chats and wild tangents—plus the time when I knocked a full can of Dr. Pepper onto my off-white rug during a recording session—I had to edit out a TON of the raw material. In fact, for Episode 01: Fairies, Murder, and the Burning of Bridget Cleary, I took 2 hours and 43 minutes down to 1 hour and 11 minutes, meaning that I cut out over 56% of the raw material!
As we continued on and got closer to making our podcast publicly available, Sam and I grew more and more comfortable at the mic, at webmaster-ing, in the editing suite (a.k.a my couch, with quiet snacks and over-the-ear headphones), and in our end product. We’ve had a couple of our friends tell us that they forget that it’s us when they listen and that they really believe that they’re listening to a professional podcast! Honestly, no comment could make me happier. This project has been an amazing experience filled with lots of laughs and pints of chocolate chip cookie dough, and it has resulted in a lot of my favorite moments from this school year. In all seriousness, I have told just about everyone I know about this podcast, because I am really, really passionate about what we have created together.
All this to say, *Podcaster Voice* please subscribe to our show and leave us a five-star review, because it really does help more people discover the podcast. And of course, you can learn more about the show on our website, www.therestofhistorypod.weebly.com, where you can also find each episode’s show notes, and on our Instagram, @therestofhistorypod.
Lauren Pfeil is a graduate student at American University. A native of Des Moines, Iowa and a proud alumna of Butler University, she hopes to push the field of public history towards a more inclusive & accessible landscape.
Reach Lauren on Twitter: @lauren_pfeil
Reach Lauren via email: firstname.lastname@example.org