A New Voice on UA History: Pluck and Grit Podcast

Mar 6, 2017

There are new voices on campus telling the age-old stories of The University of Alabama, its rich culture, and tumultuous history. C&IS graduate student Mary Lieb and her co-host, MBA candidate, Joey Weed are the creators of Pluck and Grit podcast, a project devoted to telling the stories of the people and places that have helped shape The University of Alabama.

The podcast series, which began recording interviews last fall, consists of three hour-long episodes with plans to record as many as ten episodes before the pair graduate in May.

The idea for Pluck and Grit was born after Weed spent the summer as an intern for National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington, D.C. While he said his internship focused more on audience research and analytics than communication and journalism, being in the environment inspired him to pursue his long-time interests in podcasting and storytelling.

“I thought, you know, we could really do something like this here and I knew Mary was the perfect person [to partner with],” Weed said.

After meeting for lunch in August, the two agreed that the podcast would focus on The University of Alabama community, local history and individuals’ unique experiences at the Capstone.

“We have this long laundry list of topics and people we can contact – previous administrators and alumni have been really supportive – almost everyone we’ve reached out to has been really eager to share their stories,” Lieb said. “Although we do share a common experience here, everyone has their own unique experience that made the Capstone, the Capstone for them. What we’ve learned is that, despite some of the thorns that the University has, and some of its back story and a lot of its problems, people have still been able to find a home and they’ve been able to find some really great redeeming qualities. That’s what we’re really interested in looking at.”

The podcasts, which can be found on iTunes, Sound Cloud, and the Pluck and Grit website, have explored topics related to the international students community, Big Al and successful entrepreneurship initiatives created by students at UA.

“Checking people’s memories has been really exciting,” Weed said. “For our first story, the Big Al story, we talked to four different people and they all had different views of the order of events, how things happened, things like that.”

The pair said they have spent several hours in the W. S. Hoole Special Collections Library sifting through historical documents like The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, and Corolla yearbooks.

“We’ve been going to the library to see what the newspaper was writing about and kind of confirm and get a broad sense of the picture of how these stories weave together,” Weed said.

Lieb and Weed, who have both been active in student organizations and the University of Alabama community since their freshman year in 2012, agreed this is one project they may be content to let fare for itself when they depart for Washington, D.C. in May.

“In most of our projects, we work to try to find some avenue of sustainability,” Lieb said. “We’ve thought about working with publications on campus or maybe passing it off, but for the time being this was just a very fun side project.”

Weed echoed the sentiment.

“I think we would be content if [the podcast] just became 8 or 10 episodes,” Weed said. “Maybe if they were within the libraries archives, or on our website, or iTunes so that if a student down the road is searching for interesting things about the University, they can stumble upon these and enjoy them almost like a film or TV show. We’re going to put it out there and then just give people the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the University.”