Welcome to the frontlines of history! This podcast—a five-episode, limited-series podcast—covers major moments in U.S and world history and highlights how those events were reported on in the news. I interview historians and journalism experts about the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, World War 2, the Vietnam War, the Apollo missions, and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. We discuss the impact that those events had on the news, as well as the impact the news had on those events. You’ll get to hear vintage audio from those moments (the bombing of London, the launch of Apollo 11, Vietnam protests, etc.) and the broadcasts that told the world about them. The first three episodes are out now, with the final two releasing on March 22nd and March 24th. The Frontlines of History is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
The Power of Storytelling: The War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast
At the height of radio, a man named Orson Welles orchestrated one of the greatest pieces of fake news ever made. What was the War of the Worlds broadcast like? How did it affect radio and those that listened to it? Was it even that big of a deal in the first place? What can we learn about the news from an event that never even happened? Answer these questions and more on the first episode of The Frontlines of History: The News That Informed Us. Audio of the War of the Worlds broadcast was taken from the CBS Archives. Share the episode with your friends, and follow the podcast wherever you listen.
Vocation and Visualization: World War 2
World War 2 is one of the most talked about events in human history, but how did the public get the news of the war as it happened? From Franklin D. Roosevelt’s powerful radio speeches to Edward Murrow’s visual descriptions of the The Blitz and Germany’s concentration camps, listen as host Logan Miller talks with experts about the impact the war had on journalism and the lessons we can learn from each reporter’s sacrifice. Audio was taken from the Library of Congress and the CBS News archives. Share the episode with your friends, and follow the podcast wherever you listen.
The Media vs. The Government: The Vietnam War
With the Cold War off to a heated start, the United States and the Soviet Union are looking to spread their governments to other countries. One such country, Vietnam, became more than the U.S bargained for. During the 12-year conflict—a conflict filled with scandals, protests, and assassinations—a new age of the news was born. Listen as host Logan Miller talks about the first “television war” and the controversy it created that can still be seen today. Audio was taken from the Library of Congress, CBS News, ABC News, and NBC News. Share the episode with your friends, and follow the podcast wherever you listen.
Wow, look at those numbers! To be fair, I began uploading the finalized episodes starting on March 11th, six days ago as of the writing of this post. That being said, I’m very interested in why the War of the Worlds episode had so many more listens. This helps me understand what topics interest people more, as well as what I can add to the episode (whether content or editing) to get people to listen more. Once all five episodes are uploaded, a greater push at a social media campaign will begin.
Outcomes and What I Learned
As much as it would have been cool to have a podcast that reached hundreds of people, my ultimate goal was to learn more about how to interview and to improve my audio editing skills. I feel like I achieved both of those goals during this project.
Interviewing someone is one thing, but doing so in a podcast format is a different beast entirely. It’s more than just asking a question, receiving an answer, then asking another question. In a podcast, it’s all about the discussion. You need to know the material, understand when to lead the conversation, and in what direction you want to lead that conversation. This podcast gave me plenty of time and opportunities to practice that.
If the small amount of analytics has taught me anything, it’s that the best way to reach a large audience (or in this case, an audience of eight people) is to talk about something that listeners and readers are interested in. Everyone has heard of and read about World War 2 and Vietnam, but not a lot of people understand the importance of the War of the Worlds broadcast, or even know much about it to begin with. The audience, if they want to learn, want to learn about something they don’t already know a lot about.
Keeping the reader or listener engaged is also important, otherwise they won’t want to continue to view your content. Using audio from the broadcast and talking with experts that knew their stuff was a large factor in the viewership that I obtained. None of it would have been as effective if I didn’t edit those soundbites in the way that I did either. All of these factors need to come into play if I want to entertain or inform an audience, and the more interested the audience is, the more likely they’ll share it with their friends.
I learned quite a bit about journalism while working on this project. I learned of the importance of a good interview, that an interview is a two-way street. If I can help the interviewee direct their thoughts, the audience will get more out of what they’re saying. I have to be able to ask the right questions to help them stay on track or to help them explain things in a way that the audience will understand.
I learned that a good story is paramount to journalism, even if the goal is to tell someone about a minor event. Humans generally love to hear or read stories, so using one can help attract the audience. I learned this not just from the stories of the history that I talked about in the podcast, but I learned that from the actual history itself as well. If it wasn’t for the great storytelling of the War of the Worlds broadcast, no one would’ve remembered it, and even less would’ve thought the broadcast was real.
On that note, I think the biggest thing I learned about journalism while working on this project was the history of journalism in the U.S itself. It’s been a lot of fun learning about the impact that the news has had on the events that have shaped our country. Learning about how the Cold War and the government’s response to the media created the current-day opinionated news environment was interesting. Learning of the influence that the photographs and radio broadcasts of World War 2 had on the populace showcased how powerful information can be, especially since that information spurred hundreds of thousands of people to fight for their country.
Understanding the history of journalism has given me a greater understanding of what journalism is like today. Today, there is no shortage of people who believe that the news is biased. There’s an increasing amount of fake news spreading around social media. Journalists are attacked everyday for their reporting. And yet, those same journalists care about the stories they produce, they care about the people they try to inform, they care about the truth. And so, everyday, they fight for it, even if the public doesn’t appreciate it.
Lastly, I’ve learned a great deal of the importance of project completion. This may have been a personal project, but there were many cogs in the machine that I had to plan and account for. Planning out when and how you complete each of those cogs is essential in the completion as a whole. For this project, I had to plan out times for interviews, editing, social media campaigns, and graphic design. I also had to be punctual with my schedule, as if I fell behind on editing an episode, for instance, it got really hard to try and catch up and finish other parts of the project at the same time.
Professionalism was apparent in more than just my interviews with the experts. I had to show professionalism in my script writing, in my editing, and in my social media posts. Although you can look at the podcast as a fun project, it’s a topic that I care about greatly, and if someone sees how much care and attention you put into it (something that’s highlighted by a professional outlook), then they will learn to care about it just as much, if not more.