Your story didn’t begin with you, and it won’t end there either.
My name is McKenna Redd and for my senior project I started a podcast called Roots Untold. This storytelling podcast is dedicated to sharing various heartwarming, captivating, and inspiring true stories of those who have come before us. Whether it’s grandparents, uncles, or famous relatives, they all have a story – they’ve had challenges, successes, regrets, and triumphs. And so do we. As we listen to their stories and learn from them, we can leverage the empowering knowledge that comes, propelling us to become a more empathetic, compassionate, and courageous version of ourselves.
They might be gone, but their stories live on.
The Inspiration Behind Roots Untold
Growing up, I’ve always loved learning about my ancestors whether it be my living grandparents and talking to them about their lives, or reading stories from those who have passed away. I found it fascinating to learn about some of the experiences they had as it makes them feel more real to me. I knew I wanted to start a podcast but was uncertain what direction I wanted to go with it. I was hoping to find something unique that hasn’t really been done before, and that’s when I had the idea to do a storytelling podcast about intriguing true stories of people who have passed on. I also wanted to make it more unique by having a discussion after each story about the spiritual and moral principles we can learn from their experiences.
How This Project Will Benefit My Future
Another reason why I chose to do a podcast is because I feel it is a great showcase of the skills I have developed over my time at BYU-Idaho. Career aspirations of mine include going into broadcasting, news reporting, etc. I have taken courses here to further develop those skills and increase my knowledge through courses such as public speaking, news & broadcasting, acting, and more. Not only were those classes some of my favorites, but they have directly helped me gain the abilities I need to achieve my professional and career goals. Podcasting was a great way for me to utilize and showcase those abilities and skills. For example, skills necessary for someone in the field of news anchoring and reporting include strong verbal & written communication, creativity, and the ability to speak with conviction, confidence, and purpose. In addition to that comes the need to use one’s voice in an effective way (i.e. voice diction, pronunciation, intonation, and speaking with a conversational tone). All of these skills are equally applicable and necessary to podcasting. Doing this podcast has allowed me to showcase and advance these skill sets. A specific example is that before recording each episode I would practice the lines several times making sure I knew how to pronounce all the words, display appropriate voice inflection, tonation and annunciation, and speak with energy and charisma. All of these skills are utilized in the careers I have mentioned and this project has given me great preparation.
Episode Content: Introduction to the story (person’s name, where they’re from, and other background information), reading of the story, and post story discussion about the related morals and principles that can be applied.
Duration: Each episode is between six and 13 minutes long.
Frequency: Weekly – I posted a new episode every Sunday afternoon.
Target Audience: People with a Christian background. I figured LDS people would probably make up the majority of listeners, but I wanted it to be all inclusive so I avoided LDS specific jargon and references. I wanted it to be suitable for people of all ages – from kids who enjoy listening to stories to aged men and women who have a deep appreciation for their roots.
Platform: I used Spotify as the platform for the podcast because of its user friendliness and the many tools it offers.
Social Media: I created an Instagram account for the podcast and made regular posts both on my feed and story to direct users to the podcast on Spotify.
Visual Design: As part of this project, I designed the logo and cover.
Writing: For some of the stories, I wrote and/or edited the script along with drafting scripts for the discussion and application portion of each episode. I also did write ups for the “about” section, episode bios, and social media post captions.
Research: This project required a lot of research to find stories. The hope was to begin by sharing my own family stories, but eventually get stories from viewers and other people. That has yet to happen, but so far I have been able to research my own stories through familysearch.org, reading books and journals, interviewing relatives, etc.
Editing: I used the software REAPER to edit the audio and ensure that it was great quality.
Before starting this project, I spent a lot of time developing various ideas for a name, cover photo, and logo. The two pictures below are the final logo (left) and cover (right). I drafted about 40 different variations of the cover and logo, many of them being vastly different from each other, before arriving at the final ones below. Not only did this podcast showcase the professional skills I mentioned earlier, but also allowed me to experiment with my design abilities and create something aesthetic and unique. Below that are two more pictures, a flyer and a business card, that I designed based off the original logo and cover to have as part of my senior showcase display.
Below you will find a picture displaying the engagement and analytics associated with the podcast. I had a goal to get a total of 100 listens, and I surpassed that with 134. The most common age of listeners is between 45-59 and 18-22. I wasn’t surprised that middle aged people were the most common listeners as most of my Instagram followers consist of genealogy enthusiasts and researchers. Along with that, I also had a goal to get 100 Instagram followers and I currently have 124. I found that using Instagram to promote the podcast was a great way to increase engagement.
The following is a picture of my time log accounting for the first 50 hours of the time I spent. As you can see, I hit my hours on June 4th, and have since gone well over that amount, hitting about 65 hours total.
Challenges & Successes
There is a lot more that goes into starting a podcast than I realized. The beginning stages took a while as I finalized the details surrounding what I wanted to do, who my target audience was, how often I would post, etc. I also spent a lot of time developing the various ideas for a name, cover photo, and logo. A challenging element of this project was the research and script development that went into each episode. It would take a few hours of researching stories just to find one that would work. After finding the story, I would revise it a bit as many of them had grammar and spelling errors. I would then brainstorm on what I could talk about after the story that would connect with the audience. Writing the script for that part was usually the most challenging. Despite these challenges, this podcast was rewarding in many ways! I loved being able to speak from my heart and share things that I felt were important to me and that I could help the audience feel were important as well. I thoroughly enjoyed doing the research and readings that expanded my knowledge of my ancestors in many ways. I also had a fun time editing each episode as I really like the software REAPER. It was also a lot of fun to listen to the episodes together with some of my family and friends. Most of all, I loved being able to do this project as a way to advance my skills and abilities to prepare me for this next chapter of my life as I graduate college. I am excited to see what possibilities still lie ahead!