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The People Teaching People Podcast Episode 37: Diverse Perspectives in Audio Storytelling with Meg Wilcox

037: Diverse Perspectives in Audio Storytelling with Meg Wilcox

In this episode of The People Teaching People Podcast, we are joined by Meg Wilcox. 

Meg loves a great story. Her earliest audio memories are from when she was only 4 or 5 years old, listening to CBC Radio in her dad’s art studio. While he painted big sweeping landscapes, she would divide her page into frames to make her own comic strip-like stories — one frame just wasn’t enough!

In hindsight, it probably isn’t too surprising that Meg ended up a journalist. She spent many years travelling the country as a radio host, producer and reporter with the CBC, CKUA, and the Banff Centre. Now, she teaches audio storytelling, podcasting, and media freelance in the Journalism and Digital Media program at Mount Royal University in Calgary. She is also co-director of the Community Podcast Initiative — a place to encourage and explore storytelling and community connection while amplifying and supporting voices that are under-represented and misrepresented in traditional media.

Meg is an award-winning podcaster, and in 2020 she was one of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40. Her first book is called The New Journalist’s Guide to Freelancing, and it’s out now via Broadview Press.

 

Listen in as we talk about:

3:51 Meg’s journey in becoming a journalist

8:49 Key learning experiences as a journalist

11:05 The importance of being curious

14:17 Creating a safe space for learning

15:54 Developing and teaching a podcasting course

21:19 Meg’s PhD studies with the University of Glasgow

26:22 Meg’s collaboration with Inside Out Theatre

29:44 The role of podcasting in education now and in the future

38:17 Indigenous voices, knowledge, and expertise in podcasting 

46:10 The Community Podcast Initiative

49:42 Meg’s book: The New Journalist’s Guide to Freelancing

55:28 Meg’s words of wisdom 

 

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Today’s episode is produced by VOLT Productions, a full-service podcast production agency helping creators and entrepreneurs launch, grow and monetize their shows. You can learn more about the agency’s founder Simona, their work and their team by going to www.voltproductions.co

 
KEY LEARNING EXPERIENCES AS A JOURNALIST

“Journalists have to be curious. Without curiosity and wanting to look at things from other people’s points of view, you can’t translate that to an audience.”

Meg emphasizes the paramount importance of expertise, facts, and context within the realms of journalism, particularly in an era burgeoning with misinformation and disinformation. She highlights the shift in journalism towards acknowledging not just academic experts but also individuals with lived experiences, underlining the richness this diversity brings to understanding stories. Engaging with a broad spectrum of experts, Meg underscores the continuous learning and enriching encounters that journalism facilitates as well as the expertise required in crafting informed narratives.

Furthermore, Meg reflects on the unique allure of live radio broadcasts, stressing the irreplaceable experience of real-time conversations and the organic, compelling nature of such interactions. She underscores the significance of collaboration and the human element in creating meaningful content, celebrating the magic of live or minimally edited broadcasts in connecting with the audience. These live exchanges are important not only in disseminating news but also in offering diverse perspectives and insights, thereby enriching the listener’s experience and understanding of the world.

 

 

Meg Wilcox, associate professor at Mount Royal University, says "Be curious. Be brave. Ask questions. Make mistakes."
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING CURIOUS

“Be curious. Be brave. Ask questions. Make mistakes.” 

When Meg’s students are curious, they tend to do better in her class. On the first day of class, Meg often puts this message on the board: “Be curious. Be brave. Ask questions. Make mistakes.” Meg recognizes that questions are hard to ask. In society, we are taught that there are times when we can or can’t ask questions. Certain questions are seen as polite or impolite. Meg believes that there is no such thing as a wrong question if you ask it respectfully and you know that there might not be an answer that comes to it. She knows that she needs to push her students out of their comfort zones to follow their curiosity, to be a bit brave, and to ask those questions. If they end up making mistakes, that’s okay. School is a great place to make mistakes.  

 

CREATING A SAFE SPACE FOR LEARNING

Meg celebrates the effort to establish a safe and encouraging environment in the classroom, highlighting its significance in fostering curiosity and allowing students to venture beyond their comfort zones without fear. She acknowledges the challenges in achieving this, especially against the backdrop of students’ deep-seated fear of failure and mistakes, a sentiment she perceives to have intensified over recent years. By sharing her own failures, Meg endeavours to normalize risk-taking and mistake-making as essential parts of the learning process, underscoring the humanity and vulnerability even instructors possess.

 

Meg Wilcox, associate professor at Mount Royal University, is co-director of the Community Podcast Initiative.
DEVELOPING AND TEACHING A PODCASTING COURSE

Further illustrating her commitment to innovative teaching methods, Meg, an associate professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary, was asked to develop a podcasting course and has been teaching it since 2017. Meg had been podcasting in a previous job and was excited to bring this to students. From a teaching perspective, podcasting still teaches you radio skills and audio skills. All the stuff that you need to know for radio, you can learn through podcasting and, as Meg says, a podcasting class sounds a little sexier than a radio class! 

When she first taught the class, only 2 students put up their hands and said that they listened to podcasts. Now, students are listening and engaging much more with this medium. The podcasting course is now a required course which involves a component of community service learning. Each semester, students partner with a community organization and produce a series together for them. Even if students are specifically interested in podcasting, they love the opportunity in the program to work on something that matters rather than something just for themselves or for a grade. 

 

Meg Wilcox, associate professor at Mount Royal University, is co-director of the Community Podcast Initiative.
THE ROLE OF PODCASTING IN EDUCATION NOW AND IN THE FUTURE

“What are ways that we can collaborate to add richness and context to these important stories?”

Meg explores the multifaceted role of podcasting in education, particularly in her teaching at Mount Royal University, where she introduced “assigned listenings” as a novel approach to engage students beyond traditional assigned readings. This method aims to familiarize students with key concepts in podcasting through curated podcast episodes, accompanied by guided questions to stimulate classroom discussions. Remarkably, this approach has yielded higher engagement rates than traditional readings, with students expressing a strong preference for this format. This unexpected preference led Meg to further investigate through a scholarship of teaching and learning research project, examining submission data, student surveys, and focus groups to understand the broader implications of integrating podcasting into educational contexts.

Meg’s research reveals that podcasting not only accommodates diverse learning styles, including those of neurodivergent students but also fosters a deeper connection with the material through personal stories and lived experiences, enhancing empathy and contextual understanding among students. She highlights the potential of podcasts to address complex topics like residential schools, offering students space to process difficult discussions through first-person narratives. This insight into the value of podcasting in education underlines its capacity to complement traditional learning materials, suggesting a balanced integration of podcasts and readings could cater to varied informational needs and learning preferences. Meg’s findings advocate for the thoughtful inclusion of podcasts in curricula, recognizing their unique contribution to developing soft skills and engaging with challenging subjects through immersive and empathetic storytelling.

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