Arts & Culture

Seniors’ home-spun podcast spins its own story

By
Staff Writer
Monday, April 20, 2009

The Ladies Village Improvement Society is the next logical step for the maturing MySpace generation. With their online podcasts, Rachel Blatt ’09 and Lacy Roberts ’09 aren’t attempting radical moral “Improvement,” but rather are transforming the traditional radio form to fit the do-it-yourself world of open-source Internet platforms. These friendly Internet personalities have charged themselves with weaving together collections of stories, perspectives and happenings in each of their NPR-esque installments.

“Everyone has a story. It’s our way of improving the world,” Blatt said, as she and Roberts prepared to record their most recent show. The episode included a section featuring Wag’s Revue, a literary journal recently started by Brown seniors. 

The podcasters have made the most of their local resources, often promoting and using the services of Brown alums and local Providence-dwellers. Blatt and Roberts reached out to friends at Brown to develop their project. Roberts contacted Emma Price ’09, asking her to put her cartooning skills to use to help make illustrations for lvisradio.org, the official Web site for the podcast. Michael Fruta ’09 helped with the technical side of Web site design.

 “We’ve gotten a lot of help from people from Brown and RISD. Not just Brown but Providence people, too,” Roberts said.

The story of the Ladies Village Improvement Society actually started far from Providence, in Blatt’s hometown of East Hampton, New York.

“There’s a thrift shop there called the Ladies Village Improvement Society, and all the fancy ladies from Long Island donate stuff there,” said Roberts. “It’s great, and it’s cheap and we just thought it was funny. We went through a lot of ideas for names and wound up choosing that one.”

The podcasts are largely home-spun, despite all the help the hosts have in overall production.

In the self-starting spirit so familiar at Brown — and with the do-it-yourself approach of the YouTube crowd — Blatt and Roberts do all of the recording, editing and writing themselves, using various locations on campus as their workshops.

“One of the ways that we’ve made this space our own is we’ve hidden thumbtacks in the walls,” said Roberts during their most recent recording session, as Blatt stuck the three-page script to the wall of a clandestine practice room in Orwig.

Their most recent podcast, called the “Site Specific Show,” revolved around the theme of spaces — their associations, back stories and what makes them special. This theme is particularly relevant to their transition to post-college life and also to the continued existence of the podcast — the future of which is uncertain without a fixed broadcasting space.

The two don’t yet have plans for life after graduation but dream of moving to the Bay area, living together in a three-bedroom house and continuing to run their podcasts. The house would have three bedrooms, of course, because one would be reserved as space for a recording studio, Blatt said.

“Me and Rachel work together really, really well,” Roberts added. “I feel really happy and really lucky to have found such an awesome collaborative relationship. … We’re graduating in the spring, and we don’t exactly have plans. We’re trying to organize moving, hopefully close together.”

Roberts said the best chance for this podcast to thrive in future years is to attract listenership. “The more people who listen to it, the more people are going to listen to it and the bigger a chance we have of keeping it going.”