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The Scarlet & Black

All Things Grinnell podcast tells community stories through a new medium

Grinnell College
Ben Binversie ’17 hosts the podcast All Things Grinnell with the goal of creating a recorded oral history of the town, college and community. Contributed photo.

By Julia Anderson

This semester, Grinnell College premiered its first ever podcast, appropriately titled All Things Grinnell. It is created and hosted by Ben Binversie ’17 of the College’s Office of Communications. Binversie noted the absence of a podcast as a form of distributing content and telling stories about Grinnell, and that, combined with his own interest in podcasts and a summer working with Milwaukee’s NPR station, inspired Binversie to begin devising a podcast for Grinnell.

“I look at Grinnell, both the college and the town, and all the people here, and there’s so much happening in such a concentrated space, and there are so many stories to tell,” Binversie said.

All Things Grinnell now has seven episodes ranging in length from around 40 to 50 minutes, available to listen and download on streaming platforms as well as the College’s website. Each episode has a general theme and features interviews with people connected to Grinnell, from students to community members to outside guest speakers.

“The name All Things Grinnell kind of encapsulates it, but it’s not just necessarily Grinnell people. … A big part of Grinnell is having people come from all over the place to our little corner of the world and getting to hear ideas from all around the world and interact with people from all over, both in terms of our student body and the speakers we bring to campus,” Binversie said.

The topics of episodes tend to vary in scope and content, though there is always a uniting thread. Episode five, “An Abundance of Katherines,” for instance, features two speakers with different research foci from last fall’s Scholars’ Convocation Series. As it happens, both interviewees happen to be named Katherine. Other episodes are a bit more straightforward with their theme, such as Episode two, “Saints Rest.” In it, Binversie interviews the director of the film “Saints Rest,” Noga Ashkenazi ’09, as well as the former and current owners of the popular coffee shop.

The process of making a podcast can be arduous, especially for Binversie, who does each part of the planning, recording and editing by himself. The first step is always an idea, which is often sparked by the abundant events happening on campus. After that, Binversie arranges interviews with guests relevant to the episode’s topic. Finally, he edits the interviews, chooses music and puts the final touches on each episode.

Overall, the goal of the podcast is to connect everyone related to the Grinnell community, inside and out of the College.

“Being here again and coming back with fresh eyes and interacting with the place in a different way … I’m appreciating it all more, I think, because I have the time and a little more perspective to be able to see that this is a special place,” Binversie said.

As the podcast continues, Binversie hopes to involve the Grinnell community in additional ways, beyond being the interviewees and audience.

“I want people to feel like they’re contributing to it in some way, and another way in which I’m doing that is soliciting student music, so I’ve already had some student musicians send me their music … which for me, I’m super psyched about that,” he said.

Though the overall response to the podcast has been positive thus far, Binversie wants to hear feedback from the audience, regardless of opinion.

“Every student that listens to the podcast, I want them to talk to me about what they thought about it, even if they thought it was really bad, I want to know why they weren’t interested in it because that’s just as important as hearing from someone who really loved it,” he said.

For now, the future of All Things Grinnell remains somewhat murky. Binversie’s position with the Office of Communications ends in about a year, and it is unclear if someone else will take over the podcast following his departure. Still, he feels hopeful that students will become increasingly involved with the podcast and that it will persist in years to come, even if it undergoes some transformations with a change in leadership. The significance of the podcast and its ability to unity a wide community across the globe stems from a genuine appreciation for and desire to tell the stories of Grinnell.

“There’s so much here to be a part of and learn from, and I really appreciate the community that I see here and that I feel like I’m increasingly becoming a part of. It’s a place that feels like another home,” Binversie said.

Ben Binversie ’17 hosts the podcast All Things Grinnell with the goal of creating a recorded oral history of the town, college and community. Contributed photo.
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