A group of University of Central Arkansas students has created a podcast called “The Echo Podcast” and will release the first episode Nov. 25, 2020.
The group is made up of senior Lauren McLemore, executive producer and podcast host; senior Ronak Patel, The Echo editor-in-chief; senior Sarah Coleman, The Echo associate editor; sophomore Delaney Van Wilpe and junior Elvira Toddy, student media researchers; junior Megan Holder, researcher; junior Hannah Bender, cover art designer; and senior Morgan Jenkins, editor and producer.
“Episode 1: The Untold Stories of the Integration of UCA” follows the social climate of Conway before, during and after desegregation, starting with the creation of Arkansas State Normal School, now UCA, by the Arkansas Legislature in 1907. The full episode will be available on Apple Music and Spotify.
“I wanted to start this podcast to give students involved in student media another platform that offers more space and time to share stories that are heavy with details and emotion,” McLemore said. “It also allows them to express their creativity while still learning to be fair, truthful and unbiased reporters.”
The first episode has taken over six months to produce and includes interviews with Jimmy Bryant, former president of the Faulkner County Historical Society, former UCA history professor and former UCA Archivist; Ronnie Williams, UCA Vice President for Student Services and Institutional Diversity; three people who attended former segregated Conway school Pine Street when it integrated; and researchers Van Wilpe and Toddy.
Van Wilpe and Toddy dug through archived copies of The Echo from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s to get an understanding of UCA’s climate during the integration period.
Van Wilpe said doing research for this podcast helped her understand her school’s history – the good, bad and the ugly.
“I was inspired by past students who spoke up, founded new RSOs and really worked to create a better environment at UCA,” Van Wilpe said. “Their determination really impacted students who came after them.”
David Keith, a member of UCA’s journalism faculty and The Echo adviser, said he is proud of the work the students have put into this project.
“The depth of their research, their ingenuity in reporting the story and their ability to produce it on a different platform have resulted in an informative, well-done podcast that tells a story that is vitally important for UCA and Conway,” Keith said.