Allegheny’s Communication Arts and Theatre Department students will release the third season of the Meadiaville Listening Project, called “North Main Narratives,” an oral-history podcast that features the college’s recently retired staff and professors, with a listening party planned for Monday, Dec. 10, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Meadville Public Library, 848 N. Main St. The event is free and open to the public.
Community members also can tune in to WARC 90.3-FM for a preview of the podcasts on December 6 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The Meadiaville Listening Project is a podcast series that illuminates everyday life in Meadville, focusing on how media thread through daily experience here. Season Three explores the lives of Allegheny’s educators on campus and throughout the Meadville community. “North Main Narratives” traces the changing contours of a liberal arts education, featuring the voices of recently retired professors and staff. In a series of four podcasts, the season explores structural changes in higher education, employees’ personal experiences as educators, and the many interactions between the college and Meadville.
Accompanying the podcasts is a website about Allegheny life, including explorations of its history and culture. An interview with President James H. Mullen, Jr., who is set to retire in June 2019, will be added to the site by mid-December.
The Meadiaville Listening Project is produced in its entirety by students in an ethnographic methods course in Allegheny’s Communication Arts and Theatre Department. Designed to teach students ethnographic and oral history methodologies, the course ultimately moves students to engage in deep conversations with community members and to spend time learning about the Meadville community. Through this experience, students not only explore their lives at Allegheny College and changes on campus, but also their lives in Meadville and before making the community their home.
“Ethnography and oral history encourage students to listen deeply and carefully,” said Emily Yochim, associate professor of Communication Arts. “So many folks retired after Allegheny’s retirement incentive last year, and so this year I wanted to give students the opportunity to learn from those retirees, to capture their voices, and to explore with them the unique lives on a liberal arts campus in a small town.”
Students have spent the semester researching the changing shape of higher education, and their interviews with professors and staff have shown them how those changes have impacted the Allegheny community.
“Working on this project has been an amazing opportunity to work with and get to know more about these retired professors and faculty members, as well as what they do in and for the Meadville Community,” said Emily Brady, a sophomore. “I was surprised to learn that even though many of the people we interviewed have retired many of them are still teaching classes and doing work for the school. Overall, this project has opened my eyes to the connections Allegheny has with the Meadville community, and vice versa.”
Visitors to the website can listen to the current season of the project beginning on December 10, but can visit anytime to find Seasons One and Two, which focused on Meadville’s youth media makers and community organizers, respectively. The website can be found at meadiaville.com.
“My peers and I are certainly excited to have the opportunity to share the stories of those who gave many years to the college and have much to share in regards to their experiences,” said Alex Hasapis, a senior. “I think the community will be able to fully immerse themselves in these podcasts and come out with a rich perception of both Allegheny and Meadville.”
The Dec. 10 kickoff event will offer listening booths featuring all three seasons of the project, children’s activities and light refreshments. Interested attendees will also be invited to participate in mini-interviews in the library’s new mediaLAB, which features a podcasting booth and green screen technologies.
About the Meadiaville Listening Project
The Meadiaville Listening Project is imagined and executed annually by Dr. Emily Yochim and students who enroll in her course Media Consumption. The class began with 18 students in January 2016 and has since expanded to create a new season each year with a new set of students and teaching assistants from seasons previous.
Over the course of 14 weeks, Yochim and her students conduct interviews, create a website, produce podcasts, create marketing materials, and publish ethnographic analyses, all grounded in communication arts theory. The Meadiaville Listening Project is made possible by the Meadville Community, Oral History in the Liberal Arts, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Department of Communication Arts and Theatre, and Allegheny College. More information on this project can be found at meadiaville.com.