The Alternative Historian


Thoughts, Ideas, and Other Musings by an Alternative Historian

Day One: Podcasting and Oral History

Everything I know about Long Beach, California I learned from Sublime. Specifically, I learned it all from their most popular song, “What I Got”. Honestly, I only know part of the lyrics. What I’m saying is I know nothing about Long Beach. But the Oral History Association is having our 50th anniversary conference in the city this weekend. I finally get to address the hole in my knowledge that is this part of Southern California. Also, there’s oral history.

Day One of the conference begins with a half-day workshop on Podcasting and Oral History. This morning there was also an interesting workshop on oral history and the law conducted by John Neuenschwander. This man wrote the book on this subject. While it would have been a wonderful experience, the timing was wrong. I’m disappointed, but there’s always next year.

The workshop I was able to attend was excellent. Molly Graham was the workshop leader. She hosts a couple of podcasts, teaches at Rutgers University, is assistant director of their oral history collection, and is a graduate of one of the most prestigious documentary schools in the country. This was too good an opportunity to miss. The workshop touched on everything one would need to know to have a successful podcast. This doesn’t mean attending a three and a half hour session makes me a professional. Graham addressed the issues, but there was no way it could all be covered in depth. We all received recommendations on equipment, software, hosting ideas, structure, interview tips, and sponsorships. I feel like I have an idea of what areas to further research. I also feel more confident about launching a podcast of my own. 

In Spring 2017 I will be launching Change Over Time, a podcast using historical thinking to explore geekiness in order to learn more about human relations. Every other week I’ll release an episode. Sometimes I’ll be reporting from the field, asking historians about real-life apocalypses or talking to historical re-enactors and cosplayers about similarities and differences. Other times I’ll explore how different ideas, theories, or methods used by historians can be used by non-historians. Such as using oral history to help grow your business, find out more about your family, or launch a political campaign. Lastly, I’ll also release edited pieces of oral histories I’ve done with interesting people like Atlanta-based speculative fiction authors. In the months leading up to launch look for updates and teasers. Be sure to sign up for the Alternative Historian newsletter to keep up to date.

Tomorrow’s going to be a long Day Two. Examining the history of Foxfire and the legacy of Studs Terkel as well as how oral history has changed over the last 50 years. I might need a song or two to keep me going.