A chat with the ‘Cats

Headphones on the windowsill of the podcast studio for use during recording in the studio.

After the social and political turmoil of 2020, some members of Weber State University’s faculty joined together to create the “Wildcat Conversations” podcast. The podcast, which is on its third season, aims to educate their listeners on global issues and how they affect the people of WSU.

The podcast was started by associate professor James Zagrodnik as “a forum for discussing and learning about significant issues in the world our society is currently working through.”

The podcast’s first season dealt with creating conversations, the second season dealt with healing and the third season is tackling transformation.

As of right now, the podcast is hosted by assistant professor Andrea Martinez, clinical supervisor Juancarlos Santisteban and assistant professor Ryan Zimmerman. The podcast also receives technical and artistic aid from many other people on and off campus.

In season one, the podcast was hosted by Zagrodnik, Martinez and Zimmerman, but as the podcast has grown and continued, hosts have come and gone.

The podcast’s focus on social issues has a different personal significance to each of the hosts, which has helped the podcast become an important project to each of them.

“A lot of my work has been working with students and I think I was coming from a district to now being a university professor, and when I saw this idea, it was something that was hitting me at home,” Martinez said. “I self-identify as Chicana Latina, but I’m lighter skinned, but my spouse he’s darker-skinned indigenous from Mexico and all of our lives here in Utah have been very much racialized. It really resonated in often feeling othered here in Utah and feeling like ‘how do I belong?’”

The hosts and creators of the podcast want to raise awareness of social issues that affect people attending WSU.

“We want everyone. We want superstars. We want people that are a part of really making the change and making the decisions in the legislature. Every time we think of people to interview, we have such a broad range because there are people in the state of Utah who are already a part of making a change,” Zimmerman said.

In efforts to identify WSU as a Hispanic Serving Institute,the podcast included an interview in Spanish, about a mother’s experience having a hispanic daughter at WSU. The University is 12% hispanic as of 2020 according to Data USA.

The podcast is meant to make WSU students think about the different aspects of the society around them and to consider other perspectives.

“I guess my hope is that they utilize it as a tool to expand their ideas and perspectives and to meet amazing individuals that are on our campus, and to listen to their story and tell their narratives,” Martinez said.

“Wildcat Conversations” is used in classrooms by the professors involved in the podcast and is available to be streamed through on the WSU web page on “Wildcat Conversations,” as well as Apple Podcasts and wherever podcasts are available.