My So-Called Athenian Life

by fourth year Chelsea Harvey

When Kaitlyn Andrew graduated from the University of Georgia in 2011 and moved to South Korea to teach English for twelve months, she supplemented her nostalgia for American culture with podcasts.

American media was difficult to find, so she turned to NPR to keep her “thumb on the pulse of pop culture” that she missed, listening to This American Life and Car Talk whenever she felt a little far from home. After her year abroad, a year in which she grappled with the post-graduate reality of having to “put a stake in a career,” Andrew realized that she had fallen in love with radio.

Upon her return to Athens, Georgia, she continued waitressing at DePalma’s on Broad Street but kept herself open to other possibilities. She applied to host a radio morning show, a process that she said went horribly. “I got a friend to help record an aircheck, and it was just terrible,” she told me with a laugh. The program director at the media group that oversaw the station agreed, but called her back in to be a DJ for Power 100.1 over the summer.

As she continued waitressing and DJing, Andrew listened to her favorite podcasts. Working in hospitality, she heard stories from restaurant patrons that reinforced “just how interesting our town is, and how interesting the people are.”

She decided to showcase those stories and model them after her favorite podcast, giving her project the name This Athenian Life. In an attempt to create something that crafted a collective identity for the town, Andrew posted flyers around the University of Georgia campus and downtown Athens calling for submissions of poetry, prose, and miscellaneous stories to curate into her episodes.

When I asked Andrew how she intended to fairly represent such a diverse town as Athens, she responded, “I’m going to tell the stories I think are interesting, and in doing so, I’m hoping the problem solves itself.” With an emphasis on removing the “black-and-white version of an event,” Andrew envisions This Athenian Life as a vessel for “creating narratives of people and events as complex as they are.”

 

photo by Anna Blasco