“People are obsessed with Middlebury” — even and especially after they leave the college, according to Professor of the Practice Erin Davis. As a co-producer of “Midd Moment,” along with Juliette Luini ’18.5 she’s encountered a fair number of Middlebury fans. “For a lot of alumni ,” she said, “this is a real part of their identity.”
The first episode of “Midd Moment” was released on Monday, Oct. 7. “Midd Moment” is a new podcast hosted by Laurie Patton in an effort to connect with the Middlebury alumni community. In the brief introduction to the podcast, Patton explains that many alumni are interested in “a direct link to the Middlebury community.” The podcast features a different guest each week, including professors, alumni and other people with connections to Middlebury. In addition to Middlebury Magazine, the podcast is another outlet for alumni to connect with the Middlebury community. “When you’re not here anymore or on one of Middlebury’s campuses, directly participating in Middlebury, they miss it,” Davis said.
Davis explained that the podcast aims to “continue to give people access to the stuff that you miss once you leave Middlebury.” When asked about student interest in the podcast, she said that it is geared toward alumni so she is uncertain how current students will respond to it, but hopes that they will listen to it and see what they think.
According to Davis, something she has taken away from producing the podcast is how much the college has given so many alumni. “There’re just people doing really cool stuff, who went to school here,” Davis said. “It’s really made clear to me what Middlebury has to offer. It’s an incredible springboard.”
Producing “Midd Moment” was a humbling experience, Davis said. As a Professor of the Practice at the college, Davis sees students pushing themselves academically “to the limit every day,” but hopes that they will develop skills that help them make a difference in the world.
“[Podcasts] have the potential to make you feel connected, to make you learn something new, or to feel something new by the time the podcast ends,” Davis said. She hopes that this will ring true for “Midd Moment” as well.
When planning the podcast, Davis said that they were considering how to make it more appealing to current students, yet it did not seem like an effective way to engage with them. The production team threw around ideas such as interviewing students, but those ideas all “felt false, like old people trying to appeal to young people,” Davis said.
Davis said that the producers of “Midd Moment” want to be representative of the diversity of alumni career paths. They tried to find a diverse group of alumni to talk to about their current endeavors and how the college has impacted their work. One of the interviewees, Bianca Giaever ’12.5, found success immediately after graduating, and now, several years later, continues to develop her voice in the film and radio world. Koby Altman ’04, the general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, spent years coaching after he graduated from Midd. Another alumna, Julia Alvarez ’71, has been publishing successful novels for over 30 years.
The first episode featured Environmental Studies Scholar in Residence Bill McKibben. McKibben, one of the world’s leading environmentalists, opens the episode by saying “I’m not convinced that there’s any institution in the world that’s produced more people doing more interesting things in the environmental world than Middlebury.” President Patton and McKibben discuss the college’s environmental initiatives, including the Energy 2028 plan and the college’s plan to divest completely from fossil fuels. Patton asks McKibben what he thinks needs to be done to change people and institutions to actively and effectively combat climate change and hey discuss the importance of individual responsibility and group action. According to McKibben, the key to effective action is in “individuals deciding to become a little less individual and joining together in movements large enough to make some difference.”
“I hope it scratches the itch that alumni feel to be reconnected to Middlebury,” Davis said. “So I hope that they can read the magazine and feel connected, I hope they can listen to the podcast and feel connected, I think it’s just another way for people to connect.”
This season of the podcast features 11 episodes with different guests each week. The podcast airs on Mondays.