Journalism students at Karns High School are using a new platform to help their classmates stay informed.
This fall, ELA teacher Rachel Monday’s class launched “Dispatches From The Dam”, an interview-style podcast that highlights students, school leaders and local celebrities with a Karns connection.
Senior Caleb Jarreau is the show host, and got his start by working as a sportswriter for the school newspaper. Jarreau said that when he first was approached about the new role, he was concerned about the challenges that were involved.
“Now I realize that it’s not easy, but it’s definitely not impossible,” he said. “And I didn’t realize how much fun I would have doing it.”
Jarreau’s interview subjects have included fellow students, KHS principal Brad Corum and WBIR anchors Leslie Ackerson and Heather Waliga, who are Karns alumni.
Jarreau said that before launching the project, he mostly listened to sports podcasts, but more recently his listening consumption has broadened. Since creating his own show, he also hears professional podcasts with a greater attention to detail.
“It’s kind of like I’m thinking of it from an analytical standpoint,” he said. “Yeah, they’re talking about a current event but I also understand what’s going on in the production, or if they played a newsclip I know how they did that. It’s kind of cool to think about now, understanding it from basically behind the scenes.”
The project was made possible by a $500 grant from the Junior League. Monday, who also facilitates the school newspaper, said she enjoys listening to podcasts while commuting or working around the house, and was excited to explore a new media trend. “This gives them something that, really, if they had $500, they could do a podcast on their own,” she said of her students. “You don’t have to necessarily be hired at the News Sentinel to be covering news in your backyard.”
“Dispatches From The Dam” – whose name refers to the school mascot, the Beavers – is available on Apple and Spotify, and can also be found on the website of The Karns Chronicle. The most recent episode included interviews with Monday and other KHS Teachers of the Year.
While Jarreau will be graduating in the spring, other students are ready to take the reins next year, including junior Emily Moore and sophomore Violet Whitson.
Moore writes the entertainment column for The Chronicle, but said she’s excited to try a different medium.
“A podcast is so different, it’s just having a conversation that you then put out to the world, and it gives the creator a place to be creative and it gives the person they’re interviewing a pulpit to give their two cents from,” she said. “And I think especially with the school that we have, there’s a lot of people that deserve a pulpit.”