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Listen Up: Locals Produce Podcasts

By Patricia Middleton McPherson Sentinel, Kan.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Some everyday folks in one Kansas community are jumping into the podcast game. NO EXCUSES!

McPherson Sentinel, Kan.

Podcasts by the thousands are available from around the world and several McPherson County residents are adding their unique voices and perspectives to listeners.

Amy Kay Pavlovich, owner of Connected, a fair trade retail store in Lindsborg, recently started a podcast called "To Be Fair..." The show, which releases new episodes each Tuesday, focuses on living intentionally.

"I'm no professional; I'm just a woman sitting in my closet," Pavlovich laughed. "...I shut the door so if the boys talk, you can't hear it as much."

Part of Pavlovich's motivation for producing "To Be Fair..." came from her previous years of experience as a church minister.

"This seemed like an easy and doable way to still have a voice about something; about things that I care about," Pavlovich said.

Each episode of "To Be Fair..." is around 15 minutes long, which Pavolovich noted wryly is also the typical length of her sermons.

Producing "To Be Fair..." as a podcast allows people to choose the time and place they want to play the podcast.

"Around the Midwest, here, people commute different amounts of time but, in my head, I think it's a quick commute kind of a podcast," Pavlovich said. "...It's easy to record; it's easy to edit and send it to all the places that people listen to podcasts. Then they can listen whenever they want, so that's pretty fantastic."

Pavlovich admitted she often listens to podcasts herself -- especially those featuring female entrepreneurs and personal faith journeys.

"I listen to them when I'm doing things that I'm not fully engaged with," Pavlovich said. "...When I papered the floor at the store, I think I listened to 'Fresh Air,' for, like, 12 hours."

Pavlovich also appreciates listening to podcasts by English speakers from both the U.S. and other countries around the world.

Sometimes, the anecdotes told by hosts or their guests near her age bring back forgotten memories from her childhood.

"I think that's fun in podcasts, when people reference stuff from your general era," Pavlovich said. "You end up laughing because you remember that song that you danced to in eighth grade or whatever."

As in many of her favorite podcasts, Pavlovich aims for a conversational tone in "To Be Fair..."

"I really gravitate towards people who are genuine, sincere and a little vulnerable," Pavlovich said. "When you're reading a book, it's usually from the perspective of after (an experience) is all over and they're reflecting back, which is helpful ... but it's different to feel like you're living with people as they go through their stuff."

Taking the conversational format as their pattern, "VS the World" podcast hosts and McPherson residents Caleb Voyles and Matt Pulaski share their thoughts on current issues, controversial topics and philosophical questions.

"We're not super smart, well-informed guys, but we're interested in a lot of different topics," Voyles said.

Pulaski and Voyles met as teenagers in Wichita and moved to McPherson several years ago. Both are aspiring filmmakers who have worked together on creative projects together since they were in high school. As they got older, they found themselves digging into more complex issues.

"We'd end up having these hour-long conversations and go, 'we should be recording this, this is good stuff,'" Pulaski said. Still, they had some trepidation about broadcasting their personal perspectives out to the public.

"You're kind of nervous about 'what if I have a bad idea' or 'what if I'm dumb on this topic' or 'what if people really hate what I have to say?' Voyles said.

With "VS the World," Voyles and Pulaski take anywhere between 90 minutes and two hours to discuss topics like abortion, conspiracy theories and psychology and release around two episodes per month.

"The abortion epsiode made us really dig deep into our personal beliefs," Voyles said. "Even when you really think you really understand your views about something, when you dig deep, there's a lot more to learn."

In "VS the World," Pulaski and Voyles often bring on guests who are experts about a particular topic -- and who may have views that are opposite of their own.

"We want to show that you can talk to someone who disagrees with you or has a different viewpoint and they're not your enemy, you're both just trying to solve a problem," Pulaski said.

After choosing a topic, the hosts of "VS the World" give themselves a week to research and prepare to defend their stance on an issue -- which sometimes shifts as they talk about it with their guest.

"We feel like there are a lot of important conversations that aren't being had, especially with the way social media has changed the way people interact," Voyles said. "Every issue is really polarized right now, and we feel like what's important and what should be happening is people should be having long, hard conversations where neither person thinks they're right and just explores the ideas."

After receiving positive feedback from their listeners, the pair plan to continue "VS the World" despite their plans to move to different states. The podcast also benefit both of them personally, Pulaski admitted, as it enables them to learn more about themselves and others.

"When we finished our first series of 10 episodes, the biggest revelation was how much I had learned doing the podcast," Voyles said. "...It was really interesting to realize how much everyone around us is super interesting and everybody's worth listening to."


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