Podcasts Reveal Wabash Moments

by Steve Charles

February 3, 2015

Former Freedom Rider David Kendall’s letter from a Mississippi jail—written during the Freedom Summer of 1964—is one of the Wabash College Archives’ most treasured artifacts.

Currently one of the nation’s best-known attorneys, Kendall ’66 hadn’t seen that letter since he mailed it to Professor Vic Powell more than 50 years ago.

So he was surprised when it turned up during an on-campus interview at Wabash on My Mind, the regular podcast of the Wabash Media Center.  

 “I had a copy that Beth Swift had sent me from the Archives, and I handed it to Kendall,” interviewer Richard Paige recalls.

You can hear the surprise in Kendall’s voice when he first sees it (“Oh my goodness, you have a copy!”). For a moment he is silent—he can’t help reading the first few lines of the letter.

“It was one of the coolest moments—to observe him looking at that letter for the first time in so many years,” says Paige, who took over interviewing duties at the podcast after series originator Chet Turnbeaugh ’14, who graduated last May. Since September, Paige has interviewed 15 alumni, students, and professors for Wabash On My Mind.

“These podcasts have felt like conversations between friends, and I’ve really enjoyed that,” says Paige. “The key is that it's a fun and worthwhile experience for the subject and the listener."

Beyond that moment with Kendall, Paige finds it difficult narrow down the highlights of those conversations to just one or two.

“There was Laura Wysocki’s energy, and I enjoyed the way Professors Rick Warner and Dan Rogers tell a story,” he says. "For me, it's rewarding that there have been memorable moments in each one. I can hear that in their voices.”

Media Center Director Adam Bowen produces the podcasts and is a big fan of the genre.

“Podcasts are almost an anachronism in an era in which we are led to believe that shorter is almost always better,” Bowen says. “Wabash On My Mind is typically unedited and unvarnished in a way that we hope makes them more revealing and compelling to the listeners. The one-on-one conversation lets us sit back, relax, and listen to folks in the Wabash community speak about their life, their passions, and their profession.”

Recent guests on the podcast include Ray Jovanovich ’84 discussing his career and philanthropic efforts in the Philippines in the wake of typhoons there; Professor Eric Wetzel offering personal insights on the College’s Global Health Initiative; and Professor Mike Abbott and cast members from the College’s production of Guys and Dolls.

Next week, composer and Professor Peter Hulen discusses and offers samples of electronic music in anticipation of the College’s first concert in that genre on February 11. And Paige has already interviewed Professor Doug Calisch as he looks toward his retirement and his retrospective show scheduled for next fall.

“You feel as if you’re sitting in on a conversation, as opposed to a formal piece of marketing material, and I like that,” Bowen says. “People are media savvy these days and I’m of the belief that we need to be forthright in our attempts to reach our audience. I think the podcast is a perfect format for this.”

Listen to the Kendall podcast here, and Professor Abbott and his students here. Or go to the Wabash On My Mind page for those interviews and more.



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