Great Salt Lake Podcast: A student-directed audio series airing on KRCL

Jules Jimreivat and Syd Sattler, junior biology majors, sit at the Great Salt Lake and record their podcast. The two students started the podcast about the Great Salt Lake as a directed studies project, and it has since bloomed into a larger project and been picked up by KRCL. Photos courtesy Jeri Gravlin

Jules Jimreivat and Syd Sattler, junior biology majors, sit at the Great Salt Lake and record their podcast. The two students started the podcast about the Great Salt Lake as a directed studies project, and it has since bloomed into a larger project and been picked up by KRCL. Photos courtesy Jeri Gravlin

Eight months ago, we got an idea. We wanted to make a podcast. Fueled by our deep interest in science and love of podcasts as a form of communication, we decided to pursue an engaging audio podcast series about Great Salt Lake. But first, let us back up and introduce ourselves. We are two juniors at Westminster College, both majoring in biology. Jules is from Washington D.C. and Syd is from Seattle.

When we came to Westminster, we became friends due to our love of the outdoors and shared passion for science. Quickly upon moving to Salt Lake City, we started wondering, “Just what is this Great Salt Lake?”

Thanks to a genetics class taught by Dr. Bonnie Baxter, the director of Great Salt Lake Institute, we got a crash course in the lake and the extreme salt-loving organisms that live there. Our minds were blown, to say the least, and we found ourselves thinking about how unique Great Salt Lake really is.

We found that many people, especially in our generation, don’t care about the lake—or just don’t want to know about it. Our recently inspired minds butted up against our peers and community at school who didn’t have a clue about the lake. This fueled our desire to communicate the complex and wonderful scientific knowledge about the lake that we had begun to tap into.

The goal of our podcast is to provide a series of audio episodes that take listeners on a comprehensive and engaging journey through many different academic realms surrounding Great Salt Lake. From biology and chemistry to art and economics, the Great Salt Lake Podcast provides an avenue for listeners to hear stories about the lake that ring a relevant bell in the minds of many.

We hope that by creating an avenue for our peers and greater community to hear about and begin to appreciate the lake, we can encourage political change through public pressure on our state government.

In August 2014, we designed a directed studies course for ourselves at Westminster College. We called the course Scientific Communication. The final project was an audio podcast. By the end of the semester, we had read primary scientific literature on the lake and recorded over five hours of interview audio with more than four experts in fields including biology, chemistry and environmental policy.

We were awarded our first grant, wrote a 19-page script, and with the help of our editor, had directed and produced an hour-long audio podcast about Great Salt Lake. In the next semester of school, we were fueled by our forward progress and worked to edit the hour-long podcast into three digestible episodes. After being awarded a grant from Westminster’s Environmental Center, we successfully partnered with local radio station, KRCL.

We still have high aspirations for the future of our podcast, but let’s take a moment to reflect on how we got here. The resources provided to us by many divisions of Westminster College enabled us to be successful. Our initial desire to make a podcast was spurred by a rumor of a school podcast on campus. After a little digging, we discovered that the school had purchased the equipment necessary to produce podcasts through The Forum.

After talking with the editor of The Forum, we were given access to the equipment, as well as to the many resources The Forum had to offer. In search of money to support our project, we approached the Environmental Center and the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminster College, who were able to direct us to applicable grants we could apply to. Our point is this: if you, as a student at Westminster College have any type of creative idea for a project, go for it!

Westminster is full of supporting faculty and peers who are dedicated to helping you reach your goals. This type of help may not be so abundant once you’re no longer a student here.

The three-episode pilot series of Great Salt Lake podcast is being broadcasted locally on KRCL, 90.9 FM on its Tuesday night talk show, Radio Active. The three episodes will be broadcasted consecutively on April 12, 19 and 26.

Swing by the Bassis Student Center at 5 p.m. on April 12 for a listening party of the first episode. Food and drinks will be provided and local organizations focused on Great Salt Lake will be tabling.