The Podcast Experiment



On June 18th 2016, after a couple of days working towards getting to know the San Luis community in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica, we moved on to our next task: PODCASTS! The training the students received for this was as follows: an hour and a half forum-style discussion on the issues of communication that scientists face, and what we can do to change this; then about an hour on storytelling basics; then we immediately dove in to basics of radio and specifics of the assignment.


The assignment was quite simple. They were given, as groups of four, an organization or institution in town to ask: How are their conservation/sustainability efforts improving the quality of life of the community as well as benefiting the ecosystem? Simple, right? Well, kind of. Because I gave them the biggest challenge: go find a story without knowing barely anything about it, and captivate us in a five-minute radio format. They crafted some backbone questions for their interviews and I dropped them off at their reporting adventure right after breakfast.

If you keep in mind they had a single day to do this, no recording equipment other than smartphones, no prior knowledge of sound editing and mixing – other than the half hour quick overview of an free editing tool – and barely any knowledge on how to tell a story in a non-scientific way, their creative results were brilliant, and they each carry the personalities of those involved in the production.

Without further ado, here are the results of this very fun and fruitful experiment.


1. Why Bats, Mister Wayne – by Sarah Zlotnick, Matthew Zipple, Allison Young, and Hiromi Uno.


2. The Colibrí Controversy – by Pilar Gomez, Lauren Phillips, Carol Peretz, and Keith Burnett.


3. Sustainable Coffee – by Jimmy Peniston, Pooja Panwar, Clarice Esch, and Janelle Peña.


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