By Whitney Harder
(Aug. 31, 2015) — Have you ever wondered if your vote actually counts? Is a drone or a dog more useful in a combat zone? How long has there actually been a war on Christmas? And why is it taking so long to elect a female president? Two University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences doctoral students want to answer these questions by talking with UK historians. The catch: they have to be brief.
"Long Story Short: A Brief History of History," a podcast produced by Department of History doctoral students Cody Foster and Dara Vance, premiered last week on the college's SoundCloud. In the first episode, Foster and Vance talk with history Professor Mark Summers about the history of voting in America and "whether or not your vote really counts."
Listen to the episode above or at https://soundcloud.com/ukarts_sciences/lss-episode-1-the-power-of-the-vote-with-mark-summers.
"Long Story Short" will air bi-monthly through December, featuring faculty in the Department of History and answering questions rooted in U.S. studies, while offering a comparative perspective at the international level. Foster and Vance will also spotlight new faculty publications in 30-second book promotions.
"Podcasting is a great way to both connect the community to the department, but also produce a tangible product of one of the things historians can 'do,'" Vance said.
Foster believes podcasts have the potential to reach vast audiences around the world, especially with the convenience of listening while "in your car, on a run, while cooking, etc." The pair thought, "what if we take advantage of this and use it to educate audiences?"
"We also want to promote the extraordinary historical talent in the UK history department. A typical history professor at the University of Kentucky can reach an average of 30 students in a single classroom; a podcast can reach the world," Foster said.
Within 12 hours of being posted online, the podcast reached 186 listeners throughout the U.S., England and Australia. In 48 hours, the podcast had been played 220 times. One high school teacher even contacted Foster via Twitter to ask if she could use the podcasts in her classroom. (He said yes.)
The team is still sorting out the podcast schedule for this semester, but they hope to expand to bi-weekly podcasts in the spring. Eventually, undergraduates will also participate by exploring local museums, historic sites and libraries to interview history experts and the local public about historical topics.
"For now, though, we really want to answer interesting questions that get students excited about history," Foster said.