Last year, Rob Cameron, Prague’s BBC correspondent, approached NYU Prague with the idea of launching PragueCast – a podcast with stories of Prague told through the eyes of our students. The plan was ambitious: to produce monthly 20-minute editions, each with a different theme chosen by students, and distribute it to an audience beyond NYU Prague. Students would write, record, produce, edit, and market the episodes – all as non-credit extracurricular program that would meet in the evenings.
One year later, the results surprise everyone. Two teams of students – one in the fall, one in the spring- have produced six high-quality episodes that tell stories in a sensitive, insightful and dramatic way. Last semester students recorded footage from the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Velvet Revolution, including interviews at a demonstration against the current Czech president. This semester, an episode entitled Survivors was inspired by the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII; there are stories about a Holocaust survivor, a WW2 pilot shot down over Nazi Germany, and a victim of the Communist era who was imprisoned in the 1950s.
This voluntary, non-credit program is very popular – and not just among journalism majors. Students of all disciplines apply, and it is becoming increasingly competitive to join. The podcast includes original theme music composed by Dalton Corr, a music student who was at NYU Prague when the program started in the fall.
According to Tom Ishizuka a sophomore in CAS studying economics environmental studies, „we were able to work on every aspect of podcast production: recording, interviewing, script writing, sound editing, and presenting. I decided to participate on a whim due to my personal interest in podcasts, and I’ve found that I now possess a greater appreciation for some of the shows that I listen to. .. I felt the quality of programming we were able to produce was exceptionally high.“
Winona Rinkacs agrees. “The PragueCast was a great experience for me. It allowed me to interact with locals and explore parts of Prague I would not have seen otherwise. Thanks to the PragueCast, I was able to talk to an elementary student, a gulag survivor, and a matchmaker about what life in the Czech Republic is like…. I enjoyed co-writing the script to string all the individual stories together and presenting in Rob’s fancy sound studio.”
Is Rob Cameron satisfied with the project? “I’ve been genuinely impressed with what we’ve been able to achieve in less than a year. This is thanks to the incredible dedication and energy shown by the PragueCast teams. Every Tuesday night we’ve hunched over our laptops and the occasional pizza, turning vague ideas into broadcast-quality audio. It’s been a delight to work with them.I can’t wait to meet a fresh bunch of PragueCasters in the fall of 2015.”
You can download all episodes at https://soundcloud.com/nyupraguecast.
Photos by Laura Zablit