The new, home-grown Northwestern podcast WILDTALKS confronts "those hot-button issues that stay on the dining table," according to its Soundcloud profile.
Timothyna Duncan, a Medill junior, launched the podcast on Soundcloud on Jan. 29, and has since covered controversial issues like race and mental illness, all broadcast to the Northwestern community.
North by Northwestern sat down with Duncan to talk about the development of the podcast and what her plans are moving forward.
What were some of your goals in creating WILDTALKS?
I wanted to make sure was that WILDTALKS represented the campus and didn't just represent what I thought people needed to hear. I needed to make sure that I went around speaking to students, asking them what questions they had on specific issues. I really hope students can listen to a podcast on mental illness and be like, "Oh my goodness, I'm not the only one." It might make them more comfortable with dealing with it. It will hopefully make people on campus more comfortable having open conversations like that. Just having a platform where we can be super honest. In the future I want to have cross-community conversations. WILDTALKS isn't that yet, but that is the main purpose.
Can you describe the process of making a podcast?
I try to get into the perspective of the people who are listening. I think about what is pertinent and educational and important. I'll pick information that I feel doesn't misrepresent the speaker but also represents the campus. Once I have the product, I have to make sure that the students who decide to come on are okay with it. It might seem weird from the journalist point of view. With a podcast, when someone decides to come on and share his or her story, the last thing you want to do is to misrepresent it. It's so personal that I feel that the guests who come on have to be 100 percent comfortable with what I'm putting out.
What type of feedback have you gotten from WILDTALKS?
A girl that I know said she listened to it with friends in her room and I said, "Oh my goodness that's the dream of WILDTALKS. I'm so glad that you're doing that." The person who's been really championing me on is Burgwell Howard, assistant vice president of student engagement. He's been sending the podcasts to faculty members so they can hear what Northwestern students think and get a sense of our worries and concerns. Getting a sophomore to listen to it with her friends in Plex or a faculty member understanding our perspective highlights the purpose of WILDTALKS.
Have any issues surfaced through the process that you weren't expecting?
So much. First, considering the sensitivity of my guests and realizing how much I have to consider not just what's interesting and edgy for me but how they might be afraid of letting people listen to what they have to say. Realizing that I need to find that balance between entertaining and audience and considering the emotions of my guests. So many things I didn't anticipate. Mostly the marketing, the finances, the emotions of my guests and the work you have to put into it, but also the fulfillment. I feel like it's so fulfilling knowing that this is a platform that can help; that's what keeps me going, that's the drive.
What future "awkward" questions are in store?
Our next episode is dates and hooking up and relationships. I want it to be humorous. We're going to talk about Tinder and why we're so awkward when it comes to dating. What's going to be hopefully great about this is that we're going to get different perspectives.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.