When Sophmore Kade Devereaux enrolled in Intro to Podcast and Audio Storytelling at Wenatchee High School, he had no idea his final project, "The Crash at Sea," would earn an honorable mention in the New York Times 6th annual student podcast contest. His submission was chosen from over 1,100 entries.
Submissions for the contest could cover any topic and be in any audio format as long as they provide a complete listening experience in five minutes or less. In "The Crash at Sea" by Devereaux recounts the harrowing story of a fishing boat and a cargo ship collision off the Oregon coast from the point of view of his grandpa and dad.
Having never tried podcasting, Devereaux says he was intrigued by the idea of the course taught by Brandon Harle. “This was the first time I’d ever experienced anything like this. It was challenging to learn all of the technology, but at the same time, I enjoyed the free reign creativity and ability to try different resources and discover new things,” he said.
Throughout the course, Harle provided students with high-quality examples of professional and student-produced work from around the country and gave his students the resources they needed to create their own podcasts. Their final podcast projects would be submitted to the New York Times contest. Students were tasked with choosing a story, conducting three different interviews, creating the sounds, and curating the music to bring their podcasts to life.
Devereaux explained how music and sound effects can enhance the listener's experience. He also learned how to use technology and everyday objects to create immersive sound effects, like waves and ship collisions, to transport the audience into the story. Additionally, he applied his voice training from theater to add inflection to the narration. “Everything is meant to draw the listener in,” he said.
While Devereaux is unsure if he’ll continue podcasting, he says he’s gained a great deal of knowledge about audio editing and storytelling. "I encouraged my students to dig into the storytelling aspect of their podcast,” said Harle. “I've known Kade's dad for over 20 years and had heard this story several times. When Kade told me he was going to turn it into his podcast, I thought it was brilliant. So many parts of the story lend itself to dramatic audio storytelling. Kade was able to use his own voice talents to add to the story that had a compelling narrative already. I was excited to see his submission get the due attention it deserved."
The podcast and audio storytelling class is offered again this year. Harle and the WSD Career and Technical Education department has invested in improving the curriculum and equipment to be as close to industry standards as possible, giving students a real-world and relevant learning experience.