During the Spring 2019 semester, I got to work on a podcast episode for Amplified Oklahoma, a podcast produced by the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at Oklahoma State University’s Edmon Low Library. I decided to do a podcast that used the Dust, Drought, and Dreams Gone Dry oral history collection, in which women speak about their experience with the Oklahoma Dust Bowl.
I decided to write an episode about normalcy in the Dust Bowl. Normalcy is, essentially, what is normal to you. For instance, today I got up, ate breakfast, got ready, then read a bit before coming in to work. That is my normal (summer) schedule. Looking at the idea of normalcy in the context of the Dust Bowl explores how the Dust Bowl was viewed and how that did and did not change their normal, everyday lives. If this sounds exciting, check out the podcast!
To write the podcast, I first selected the oral histories that I would be working with. I chose the Cimarron County oral history collection, as that was the epicenter of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. I read through these transcripts and highlighted the portions that reflected ideas of normalcy. I didn’t know it at that point, but that is called coding, at least in the world of the humanities.
From my selections, I chose four that I wanted to use in my script. Writing the script felt uncomfortable, as it was a new writing style. It was a weird mix of writing an academic paper and a conversation. It was balance that I struggled to find and I often found myself favoring one over the other at different points in the writing process.
I also interviewed Mary Larson, one of the Associate Deans at the Edmon Low Library. For this, I learned how to set up and use recording equipment. Even though I had a few minor technical difficulties setting up, I was in good hands, as Dr. Larson had used the equipment many times before! When we were done, I transcribed the interview and then found a place for it in the podcast.
Using the same equipment, I recorded myself reading the script, which only took about 15-20 minutes. I could hardly believe that it took me only that long to read a script that took me all semester to write! Despite my incredulity, the podcast ended up sounding wonderful, and I enjoyed sharing it with my friends and family. I hope that you will enjoy it as well!