“Welcome to The Student Dive, where we speak directly with UW-Madison student reporters, editors and Wisconsinites about the most pressing issues in our campus, city and state communities. Let's dive right in.”
And so began the script for the first episode of The Daily Cardinal’s award-winning, in-depth news podcast, which launched in the fall of 2020. It has a fitting title: the show primarily features the voices of students delving deeper into the latest news occurring on and affecting campus.
“I liked the ‘dive’ part because I was thinking, especially for an audio story, a podcast medium, you’re writing for the ear, and my intention with the podcast was to give more context to our stories, to give them some life,” said 2020-21 Managing Editor Gaby Vinick.
Vinick was an original creator of the show, along with Cardinal staff member Joe Mitchell. Now in its fourth season and nearly 20 episodes strong, the podcast has four hosts and an audio editor who share the duties of making each monthly episode.
The podcast was originally organized around a theme, such as the early episodes on the 2020 election and a special series on the impact of COVID-19. Over time, the episodes evolved into conversations about the stories featured in the newspaper’s physical print editions and Action Projects.
The creation of The Student Dive came as the newsroom was operating predominantly remotely. It gave Cardinal staff a chance to connect virtually through Zoom interviews for the podcast.
“I was also just starting out as managing editor of the paper, but this was no traditional newsroom. This is a fully digital newsroom; the office is closed. As a leader, I wanted to make sure people still felt connected to the organization, our mission,” Vinick said.
The Student Dive isn’t the only podcast offered by the Cardinal. Soda Talk, a satire and comedy podcast produced by the Almanac section, began one year ago. Each episode consists of the hosts and guests cracking open a cold beverage and commenting on the latest in pop culture.
Through a unique collaboration, the Cardinal and campus organization Sex Out Loud have also created a podcast called Out Loud, which discusses and answers questions related to sexual health and sexuality. The episodes have revived topics that were previously discussed in the paper’s sex column in 2017 and 2018.
In the revamped Cardinal Sports Podcast, writers from the sports desk have produced recaps of fall football games. A sports podcast called the Cardinal Zone also existed between 2015 and 2018, which brought together all different sports together in one place, 2015 to 2016 Sports Editor Zach Rastall explained.
“It was just fun to get a bunch of people from the sports desk together and there was good camaraderie,” Rastall, who was involved with the podcast, said.
The hosts and audio editors who work on the Cardinal’s shows have gained experience in a rapidly growing form of multimedia. The structure of the Student Dive has taken inspiration from popular daily news podcasts like The Daily from The New York Times and Up First from NPR. According to Statista, only 22% of adults in the US were aware of podcasting in 2006. In 2021, that number rose to 78%.
While it’s hard to say what the future of podcasting will look like, gaining multimedia and storytelling skills is always valuable for student journalists.
“With all of that experience that I gained — editing audio, booking and interviewing guests, coming up with the podcast name and working with Joe to get it actually published — I also gained other skills in news judgment, and as far as storytelling goes, making sure each episode is as focused and understandable for listeners as possible,” said Vinick, who now works with the News Not Noise podcast.
I have also learned technical skills like Adobe Audition and WordPress as the host of the Cardinal Call, a collaboration between the Cardinal and WORT-FM that was imagined by 2020 to 2021 Co-Editor-in-Chief Will Cioci and WORT News and Public Affairs Director Chali Pittman.
“Part of the impetus was that we would do a lot of UW stories, and while I was a UW student and we have plenty of UW-Madison and other UW System volunteers who are reporters, it’s not quite the same as having the perspective of someone who’s covering campus daily and really embedded and know what they’re talking about,” Pittman said.
In my opinion, the best part of the Cardinal Call is that it involves so many students. Our introduction music was written and recorded by our Almanac Editor Mackenzie Moore. Sylvia Yan has helped with editing the segment, and our social team shares the episodes. It wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of many editors and writers at the Cardinal who take the time to share and explain their stories.
We as students, and student journalists, have unique perspectives about issues affecting campus, the state and the world. Sharing these student voices with campus and the community is the heart of what our growing podcast teams do.
Hope Karnopp is the news manager at The Daily Cardinal. She also hosts the Cardinal Call for WORT-FM. She also writes about music and previously covered state politics.