Katherine McLeod: This month, ShortCuts presents another ShortCuts Live! It is a conversation with Ariel Kroon, Nick Beauchesne, and Chelsea Miya about their collaboration in producing the episode “Academics on Air” for The SpokenWeb Podcast. That episode was released in May 2022. And that episode became a paper that they co-presented at the SpokenWeb Symposium and Institute also in May 2022. After that presentation, I sat down with Ariel, Nick, and Chelsea around a microphone in the SpokenWeb Amp Lab at Concordia University. We talked about the collaboration and archival listening that shaped their work. Starting with one audio clip as the short ‘cut’ that caught their attention in the archives, they talk about about context of that clip in the Voiceprint archives, the potential for podcasting to be a radical act of unarchiving, and what makes recordings of a radio show a unique task for cataloguers working with literary sounds recordings, and much more. Plus we hear three collaborators finally talking, and laughing, in the same room together. You can hear a bit of the room’s hum but hey that’s all part of ShortCuts Live!…
Katherine McLeod: Just as you’re talking, I was like, oh this sounds great. I’m –.
Nick Beauchesne, Ariel Kroon, Chelsea Miya: <laugh> <laugh>.
Ariel Kroon: Oh good!
Katherine McLeod: Check the –
Nick Beauchesne: Just pull a Jars and just turn it on and just start interviewing before we know it
Ariel Kroon: Yeah, exactly….
Chelsea Miya: Right.
Katherine McLeod:I’m going do the same thing that I have done for the other ones that I’ve done this week, which is actually go into “podcast voice” to do the opening <laugh>. I feel like somehow you need headphones to go into podcast voice…
Nick Beauchesne: Yeah.
Ariel Kroon: You gotta put it on… as part of the suit.
Katherine McLeod: Exactly. <laugh> <laugh> I’m going stay present with you, with the three of you here… So, we’ll start…
Katherine McLeod: Welcome to Shortcuts. On this ShortCuts, we’re recording live at the SpokenWeb Sound Institute. I’d like to thank Chelsea and Ariel and Nick for joining me on this Shortcuts Live! We’re recording this one in the AMP Lab on the sixth floor of the Library Building at Concordia University. We’re surrounded by audio equipment and silence… So thank you for joining me. Would you like to just say hello and introduce yourself on the mic? Go ahead, Nick.
Nick Beauchesne: Hello, I’m Nick Beauchesne. I teach at TRU in Kamloops and the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Ariel Kroon: Hi, I’m Ariel Kroon. I am an RA on the SpokenWeb U Alberta team.
Chelsea Miya: I’m Chelsea Miya, and I’m a postdoc at U Alberta with SpokenWeb.
Katherine McLeod: Thank you. So the three of you just presented a paper this week at the SpokenWeb Symposium and the audio clip that we’ll be listening to today and we’ll be using to inform and guide our conversation is a clip that you played in that presentation. So, to start our conversation, I’d like to play that clip and to listen to it together.
Archival Audio: [Sound quality makes it audible that archival audio is playing.] A main issue that I’m concerned with, especially as it relates to language, is what kinds of assumptions do people have about sex rules that they don’t recognize? And language is a tremendous carrier of those assumptions, but we don’t know how to self-examine them. Yes, people are beginning to realize that there is a male culture, there’s a female culture, and culture and language are terribly intertwined. But the question is, where have we not even learned how to look and where is it that people are resisting looking? I mean, if you say to somebody, the pronouns you use say tremendous amounts about your beliefs and your culture, people will laugh at you.
Katherine McLeod: Alright, so could you tell me and listeners what we’re listening to?
Chelsea Miya: So, that was a clip from the Voiceprint episode, “A Room and a Voice of One’s Own.” Voice Print was a campus radio show that was produced between, I think, 1979 to 83, 84, so about four or five years. It was hosted and produced by a student, Jars Balan, who was in the English Department at that time and was really embedded in poetry culture and all the really cool scholarship and creative works that were happening at University of Alberta. There’s also a bit of background about the history of campus radio at that time, which is really cool, and which we talk about a lot in our podcast episode. But what we actually came to present on was this specific episode on women’s voices and on gendered language, which really stood out to us, all of us when we were listening to the archive and to that episode in particular.
Katherine McLeod: Yeah, well, I was just going to add to that we are recording this in an English department – we’re recording a podcast in an English department – and that radio show was made through an English department. Yes, but, you were saying in the presentation, it wasn’t recorded in an English department?
Ariel Kroon: No, it was actually Jars’s studio was in the basement of the biology building on the University of Alberta campus. And it was not just the basement – it was the basement below the basement. So they were down quite a ways and he talked about how guests found it very odd, and a little bit intimidating, to go visit him there, and so they would try to put them at ease, and that was just very, very cool for all of us to hear.
Ariel Kroon: That was a clip from Jo-Ann Kolmes, and she came on as a guest. She was working as an editor for academic papers. I think maybe an academic journal. And so she was really talking about her practice of feminist editing at the time, and we were so fascinated by what she had to say because it struck us as very resonant and relevant to discussions that are all around us today. And though, back in 1981, they were definitely still talking about gender firmly within the binary of he/she, and, and now we have recognized and there is a linguistic recognition of – that there’s much more out there than the binary, and so language is adapting to that. So we found that extremely fascinating, the way that it speaks to issues today.
Katherine McLeod:Yeah. And especially how it came out of feminist editing, as you said. That seems to resonate. [as] even in this conference, we heard a paper by Sarah Cipes talking about feminist editing in audio. And so it’s really interesting that Joanne’s thinking about this was coming from the perspective of editing. You’ve now done a presentation on this audio clip and the Voiceprint recordings that it’s from – the Voiceprint Radio show, that it’s from – you have made a podcast episode for The SpokenWeb Podcast. You’ve attended a listening party for that episode. I’m wondering, for the three of you, what has really stood out in those experiences?
Chelsea Miya: I think for me, like what really stood out was… the pleasures and joys and frustrations of working collaboratively with Nick and Ariel and how great it was to do something other than an academic paper, especially after two years of being in isolation, sequestered in my room doing, finishing my dissertation. I’m sure like a lot of people in various professions, but in academia especially it’s isolating being a grad student at any time but during COVID it was especially so. Being able to like have the three of us be brought together for this project was so much fun. And I got so much like energy and like inspiration from, from their different ideas and from learning how to work with people who have different ideas about audio and, and we, all of us brought different, I think, strengths and and perspectives to the experience.
Ariel Kroon: I think –
Chelsea Miya: Go ahead.
Ariel Kroon: Yeah, no, I, I think it was very interesting because, as you mentioned, for grad students, especially of English literature, we’re not used to working with other people. And so it was very eye-opening to work on what is traditionally a solitary endeavour along with other people. But then have the added complicated factor of we were all in different provinces–
Chelsea Miya: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Ariel Kroon: – while we were putting this together. And so we couldn’t, well, we could, we could meet on Zoom simultaneously, but we couldn’t be in the same space editing audio together. And we couldn’t just – I couldn’t just look over and say: Hey Nick, do you mind if I do this and this and this to this clip? Or Hey Chelsea, what do you think about my research into such and such? You know, it was very collaborative and yet at the same time not collaborative because it was so difficult to work with that space between us. And so I was really glad that we were all here together finally at the SpokenWeb conference.
Nick Beauchesne: Yeah, I’ve never presented a paper with like other co-authors before – and we split our paper so to read different sections, but also our different roles. Ariel did a lot of like the research and tracking down of documents and tracking down audio clips and that sort of stuff. Chelsea did a lot of like the main kind of composition for our script for like the podcast, and I did a lot of the technical stuff for the editing. I’ve never really been responsible for this. I’m just a useless singer. I’m used to – so for me to step back from, from the limelight and do more technical behind the scenes work as part of the podcast was fun, but also reading the paper, sharing that with other people. And then we all wrote the paper together. So that felt a little more kind of balanced in the sense that our roles maybe weren’t as specialized as they were for the podcast.
Katherine McLeod: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Nick Beauchesne: So that was a really great experience.
Katherine McLeod: Yeah, I was interested in that too. The way that often collaboration, um, might take the form of, um, of an article that you write together, but in this case, the first thing that you made together was a podcast episode… And then maybe the paper was closer to maybe a print based –
Nick Beauchesne: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Katherine McLeod: – publication. That’s interesting to hear sort of the roles shifting or how that work pans out and it’s shared.
Nick Beauchesne: Well, you know, Klara, Jason, if you’re making a book, call me, call us!
Katherine McLeod: Yes, it’s possible that you might be collaboratively writing an article <laugh> as the next step of this, which is exciting because it shows how these ideas started in a podcast episode of scholarly research and it will eventually take the form of a print article. Often the print article gets put on a hierarchy above the other, but if you hadn’t made one, you couldn’t get to that other stage. I think starting with the podcast too allowed you to really dive into the sound and think about multiple sound clips and also really reflect on what the podcast is doing as academic scholarship. Which I think you all did so brilliantly in the episode and also in the Listening Party too, really reflecting on what you are doing as academics in making this podcast alongside reflecting on what those who made Voiceprint were doing within an academic institution, which is really a fascinating parallel.
Chelsea Miya: Yeah. It’s interesting too, like podcasting as this sort of radical act of de-archiving, in that we talk a lot about close listening at SpokenWeb, but I mean – and you do that when you’re doing like time codes and timestamps – but to create something from that, you really listen to it and it becomes like part of you, you ingest it and create something out of it in a way that you don’t necessarily do when you’re doing the sort of laborious, tedious work of digitizing something and creating metadata for it. So, and which is good and valuable work, but it can sometimes be like monkey work in that the focus is more on like doing the sort of repetitive tedious tasks that are removed from actual thoughtful intellectual engagement with your materials. And doing this podcast was a way, I think, at least for me, it felt like so great to be engaging with the material in a different way.
Ariel Kroon: Yeah. Those repetitive, tedious tasks definitely prepared us for doing all that we needed to do for this podcast in terms of close listening and honestly just in terms of discovering that it was there at all. When I first joined SpokenWeb, I started digitizing these radio shows, and at that time we didn’t really have any sort of schema for digitizing them because all of the sort of like accepted practices were for poetry readings. And so I was there as this new RA looking at what had been done before and saying: None of this fits, none of these categories work for this. Oh no, what, what do I do with it? And so it started as this problem. And only later was I, or were we, sort of able to get a little bit more deep into the sound of it and the content of that sound.
Katherine McLeod: Mm-hmm <affirmative>
Nick Beauchesne: It’s surprising and incredible in how generative the material is. So you start off, yeah. So I mean, I did a lot of time-stamping before I did anything intellectual and fun, like what we just did. And it’s like, you know, you listen to all, like, first of all, going to the archive to discover this stuff at the University of Albert Alberta archives, which is where we found this, not from the English department closet, like most of our other stuff, so it’s a different archive. We have to track it down. I have to make an acquisition list. Mike approves it. We get the material, it goes to digitization, we get it, we split it in three. So we all time-stamp different episodes of Voiceprint, and that’s when we all kind of fell in love with the show <laugh> and became fans.
Nick Beauchesne: And then from there, yeah, then you go to making a podcast episode, doing ShortCuts, making, writing a paper, presenting that paper. And it just keeps growing and growing, growing. I mean, we interviewed Jars, we interviewed Terri Wynnyk – his production assistant and a female sound tech, which is very rare for radio shows in the eighties – we interviewed all Brian Fateaux, Stacey Copeland –
Chelsea Miya: Jennifer Waits
Nick Beauchesne: Yeah. We interviewed all these people. We got hours of the interview footage and, and most of it wasn’t used, but it just expands and expands.
Katherine McLeod: And the conversations with all those people that all came from the archival listening that you were doing. Also, I love the fact that Voiceprint brought you together, <laugh>. I think that’s – I was wondering how you had it first encountered these archival recordings. And so that’s really beautiful hearing that. And also, um, the way that Voiceprint as a radio show was also so embedded within literary communities and just really a show that had so many writers on – and that was something I was really struck by, in listening to the podcast episode, and I can only imagine how many more conversations could come out of the Voiceprint archive –.
Nick Beauchesne: Mm-hmm. <affirmative>,
Katherine McLeod: – around the recordings of writers and conversations. It also sounded very much like interdisciplinary work too, like talking to people, you know, across disciplines and inviting them into that studio and having those conversations. So I’m excited to hear what else comes out of the Voiceprint archives. So I think that’s a good note to conclude our conversation for today. And also I’m so thrilled that, here, around this microphone, these three collaborators are finally together in person after all your work across distances. So, Chelsea, Ariel, Nick, thank you so much for joining me here on Shortcuts. Thank you all.
Ariel Kroon: Thank you.
Nick Beauchesne: Thank you.
Chelsea Miya: Thanks.
Katherine McLeod: You’ve been listening to ShortCuts. This ShortCuts was a ShortCuts Live! A conversation with Ariel Kroon, Nick Beauchesne, and Chelsea Miya recorded on May 19 2022 on-site at the SpokenWeb Symposium and Institute. Fun fact: we were wearing our SpokenWeb t-shirts that we had been given that day at the institute while recording. Check the Show Notes for photos to prove it! Also check the show notes for a link to their episode, “Academics on Air.” Plus, since talking with Ariel, Nick, and Chelsea, they have interviewed Jo-Anne Kolmes, and a few clips from that interview could be the start of another ShortCuts Live conversation recorded at this year’s symposium and institute.
Speaking of which, are you listening to this episode and getting excited about this year’s SpokenWeb Symposium? It is coming up in May at the University of Alberta. Check SpokenWeb’s upcoming events to find the link to the full program. And, who knows, there just may be ShortCuts Live recordings happening again this year, and so if you’re attending and interested in talking with the podcast team, let us know! Write to us at spokenwebpodcast at gmail dot com.
ShortCuts is a monthly deep dive into archival audio distributed monthly on The SpokenWeb Podcast feed. It is mixed and mastered by Miranda Eastwood, transcribed by Zoe Mix, and written and produced by me, Katherine McLeod. Thanks for listening.