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Monday, May 29, 2023

Reflecting on New England Review’s Debut Podcast

“NER Out Loud,” New England Review’s new student podcast, shows the power of podcasting done right and the role it can play in our communal lives.

The podcast is the product of the work of New England Review, Oratory Now, podcasting Professor Aaron Davis, executive producers Dana Yeaton and Carolyn Kuebler, student producers Kylie Winger ’19, Juliette Luini ’18.5, Hannah Green ’18.5, Sam Martin ’19, and Ellie Eberlee ’20, sound engineers Sydney Warren ’19 and Emma Schoblocher ’20, managing editors Eli Sutton and Mary Pomerantz, among others. Inspired by the five-year-old NER and Oratory Now live event of the same name, the foundations of “NER Out Loud” were laid during a J-term workshop last year. From there, Martin, Green and Eberlee ran with the project through the spring and summer, honing both recordings from the live event and the nature of the podcast as a whole. In September, Winger and Luini joined the team as the new NER interns.

More than simply producing the program, a difficult project on its own, this team has been tasked to discover “NER Out Loud”: the purpose, style, and direction of the show. It has become increasingly common for literary magazines like New England Review to produce their own podcast, each taking their own approach. One could, for instance, simply read works submitted, or, focus on interviews and extra-textual programming relating to the pieces in the magazine. “NER Out Loud,” remaining loyal to its Oratory Now progenitor, has chosen to focus on the performance of the pieces. Every episode features several theater students who deliver a carefully perfected performance imbued with intention, art and subtlety.

What is most striking about “NER Out Loud” is its intimacy which exists despite the expansive collaboration upon whose shoulders it sits. Listening to an episode, the teams of students, interns, executive producers, writers, readers and editors all fade to the dark periphery allowing only a pure stream of art to shine through. There is a sense of connection that looks in your eyes and says “this is my experience, share it with me” that “NER Out Loud” captures. The podcast pulls on a deep quality of art, its ability to bind us together, feeling each other’s life and presence and uniting us in our humanity. The reader, the writer and the listener are, for about 20 minutes, joined in a communion, feeding on each other’s joys, sadness, memories and dreams. At the end of each episode, with the reading of the credits and the return to the wider world, you remember that you are not the only listener and that what you hear is merely the veneer of a great crowd of invested contributors’ work. Yet this realization only expands the feeling of intimate community. One feels connected with the rest of the world, the unspecified masses among whom we live.

“NER Out Loud” is just getting started, having only published the first two of their semi-regular finely crafted shows. “NER Out Loud” can be found on Apple Podcasts and Soundcloud, and the producers encourage interested listeners to rate and review the show on those platforms. New episodes can be expected roughly once a month.