The Daily Northwestern

New podcast explores Northwestern students’ stories

Kimberly Go, Reporter

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“Everyone has nine lives, share one of yours.”

This is the catchphrase of “Nine Lives,” a new storytelling podcast that shares Northwestern students’ personal stories. Started by Communication freshman Alaina McCaffrey, the series went live at the end of March.

The 46-minute first episode, titled “Beginnings,” featured stories about a student’s parents getting pregnant through in vitro fertilization and a summer job that revealed how dichotomous people can be.

“I love stories,” McCaffrey said. “Ever since I was a little kid, my family will stay at the dinner table for hours after dinner, sitting around and telling stories, and so I thought that Northwestern could use something like that.”

McCaffrey posted on different Facebook groups and talked to members of her sorority to find people interested in joining the project. The team, which currently has 10 members, first met in mid-January and continued to talk throughout Winter Quarter to lay down the framework for the series.

Scott Ostrin, host of “Nine Lives,” said he joined the group because he has always loved podcasts.

“From the ages 12 to 16, I was listening to podcasts pretty much all the time,” the Communication sophomore said.

Ostrin said “Nine Lives” is an effort to try to have a venue “for the more personal things that aren’t so easily shared.” He shared his own story in the first episode, recounting the summer after his senior year in high school when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

“The story that I told … is not something that comes up in normal conversation with anybody ever,” he said. “It’s really not something that I get to share with people and it’s always something that I want to share.”

All the stories told on the podcast are true and unscripted, McCaffrey said, which she said she thinks make them sound more genuine and more interesting.

Podcast participants recorded the first episode in a room in the Communications Residential College. McCaffrey said they tried to create a casual and fun environment by ordering pizza and sitting in a circle to tell their stories.

Jessie Meltzer, a dual-degree freshman in Weinberg and Bienen, shared what it was like to go to Israel for the first time with other Jewish teens. Although she was initially nervous about telling her story, she said the experience was like talking to a group of friends.

“I’ve never told my story in that much detail,” Meltzer said. “I was telling an entire experience.”

Although the first episode only included stories from members of the “Nine Lives” production team, all future podcasts will be open to anyone who has a story. Interested students can submit their stories through a Google form that can be found on the “Nine Lives” Facebook page.

McCaffrey said all the responses she has heard so far have been positive.

“It’s so nice to hear that people appreciate what we’re doing and that they’re actually listening,” she said.

Medill freshman Natalie Escobar said it’s “very empowering” to see other students taking initiative to execute a podcast.

“To see people do really great storytelling is really inspiring,” Escobar said.

“Nine Lives” hopes to produce two or three more episodes before the end of the school year and host a live show before the end of Spring Quarter. Themes for future podcasts include “Don’t Judge a Book,” “Under the Influence” and “Had Me at Hello.”

Ostrin said that people should listen to “Nine Lives” because it brings people together.

“Through live storytelling, you really get a sense of who people are,” he said, “and that’s a sense of community building that we really want to foster.”