Pioneer interviews turned into podcast stories
EVERETT - Almost 40 years ago, library historians had the foresight to audio-record extensive interviews with Everett’s pioneers.
Recently, the library turned those interviews into 11 podcast stories. A podcast is a downloadable audio recording.
The Everett Voices project weaved the interviews into neatly packaged stories centered on topics such as baseball, the Great Depression and prostitution. Each podcast runs between 10 and 30 minutes and is available for free at the library’s website, www.epls.org.
Most of the pioneers lived through Everett’s boom and bust days. Everett was a small enough town that people knew founding titans such as Henry Hewitt, Charles Colby and the Rucker brothers. People like firefighter and baseball player Angelo “Razz” Canonica candidly spoke at length.
“There’s just a richness in Everett’s history that this brings out,” library historian Melinda Van Wingen said last week.
By combining through the stories, multiple perspectives come out, Van Wingen said. The great snow of 1916 told by the people who trudged through it includes a woman caught off-guard by the snowfall after attending a show at the theater.
Library historians Margaret Riddle and David Dilgard interviewed the people when they were in their 70s and 80s. Many of the subjects were born before Everett’s founding in 1893.
“We thought we were collecting history, but we were collecting the voices of remarkable people,” Dilgard said last week.
Long after the pioneers died, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren requested copies of the tapes, Dilgard said.
The interviews mostly happened at the interviewees’ homes. The ambience can be heard in the tapes. In the background of one interview, the creaking sound of a rocking chair is picked up on the tape.
Van Wingen spent hours with the material. Reference librarian Cameron Johnson added narration and audio effects.
“They got some real characters in here,” Johnson said.
Canonica, the baseball player, is a favorite among the staff historians.
The interviews add a dimension to Everett’s history not often found in books, Van Wingen said. The fun, light stuff is brought out in these interviews, she said.
Riddle and Dilgard used a simple Sony cassette recorder to do the interviews.
The quality of the tapes held up “amazingly well,” Dilgard said.
Around 2009, many of the tapes were converted to CDs. The podcasts were the next step.
“It kind of came to the time where the technology is there to share these stories,” Van Wingen said.
The Everett Voices project wrapped up late last year, with 11 podcasts produced.
“We feel like the collection is complete,” Van Wingen said. “It’s a whole set.”
To listen to the podcasts, go to www.epls.org and click on the blue box on the upper left called “Everett Voices.”
The original tapes also are posted at epls.org. Click on the gray box called “Northwest Digital Collections” and then the link for the “Oral History Collection.”
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published Feb. 8, 2012