From a disappearing squid to the adventures of Napoleon in Egypt, Jeremy Snyder PO ’19 and his brother, Ross, cover fascinating science and history topics on their podcast, Microcosm. Snyder is a biology major while his brother is a government and history major at Georgetown University.
The podcasts, posted on their website Microcosm, consist of various topics within science and history, such as “The Fungus Around Us” and “Hijacking Hiroshima.” In each podcast, the two brothers have a casual conversation to explore the lesser-known information within each topic.
Microcosm has a fanbase at the 5Cs. Maddie Zug PO ’19 often listens to the podcast.
“My favorite part of the podcast is the dynamic between Jeremy and Ross,” Zug said. “The way they joke so naturally and play off of each other makes each episode fun and easy to listen to. They both have a talent for distilling complex topics and conveying their passions in a way that makes me excited to learn and listen.”
On a sunny afternoon, Snyder sat down with TSL to answer questions about the origin and future of Microcosm, along with his own podcast-creating process.
TSL: Who came up the idea for podcasting?
Jeremy Snyder PO ’19: My brother and I came up with it together. We all went on vacation together as a family. We were just trying to pass the time and ended up spending a whole several hour conversation about the things we were learning in school and had a really good time of it. I told him about this idea of doing a podcast, and he was really interested in doing that together.
TSL: How did you come up the name of the website, Microcosm?
JS: It actually took us forever to think of a name. The name is related to the fact that what we are most interested in are the things that are glossed over worlds of detail.
TSL: What can you tell us about the podcasting process?
JS: For my brother and I specifically, the underlying premise of the show is that the other brother doesn’t know what the episode is going to be about until we start recording it.
When I find an interesting topic, I try to link little tidbits and fun facts together into a cohesive story. Being a biology major, there are things I know a fair amount about, but I want to be really solid on the topic, so I do a lot of research and fact-checking.
Usually, I would build an outline on the things I want to touch on: statistics, figures, or just various facts I want to cite. We don’t really do scripts because we found that with the conversational style of it all, a script is just way too constrained.
During recording, we set up a date and record our conversation over Skype using a USB microphone. Then, the person leading the episode would edit the recording and potentially add in sound effects.
TSL: Why create podcasts and not videos?
JS: Originally, I was interested in doing that in a video format. Photography has been my other main interest for a long time, so it made sense to do a visual medium. But my brother and I are in different places, so we wouldn’t be able to record videos together, so I guess I felt like the component of doing it with him was more important than doing it in some kind of visual format.
I also think that podcasts are so popular largely because they are so compatible with this desire to multitask. People listen to podcasts while they’re doing laundry or studying or driving, which is something you can’t do with a video.
TSL: Have you done any advertising for your podcasts?
JS: Not in a typical sense. When we released the first episode, I made a big Facebook post about it. It was my own personal advertising.
TSL: Have your listeners ever contacted you two?
JS: A couple of times. People will tell me they liked an episode, and they would reference something they learned on an episode. I found there’s a lot of people who listen that I would never have expected. My brother’s and my high school English teacher reached out to us last week to tell us that he happened upon it and loved listening to it. That meant a lot.
TSL: Have you encountered any struggles during this experience?
JS: Balancing the podcast with school is a substantial difficulty. This project matters to me a lot, and I would like to set out time for it. But researching itself takes 10-15 hours. It’s a huge time commitment, and with a full class load, a campus job, and sports practice, making the time for it all is definitely a big challenge.
TSL: Looking back on your experiences podcasting with your brother, what are some moments that stand out?
JS: The things I remember most and treasure most are random snippets of conversation that have nothing to do with the podcast. What I love about this, more than anything else, is having a pretense to spend time with my brother.
For the podcast itself, it’s really fun doing something that I feel excited about. Over the course of my call, he’s there with me. Being able to see him get excited about these things is totally the best feeling.
TSL: Out of all the podcasts, which one is your favorite?
JS: The first one we made, “The Fungus Around Us,” is my favorite. The subject of fungi and mycology is super close to my heart. I think it’s one of the coolest subjects in the world.
TSL: What is the future of Microcosm? Have you thought about expanding?
JS: I think so. We’re wrapping up this first season. But, we aim to do a lot of planning for the second season over the summer.
In terms of expanding, I’ve started to think about [how] we would bring more people on board, in wake of how much time I spend on this. I would definitely appreciate people helping out. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to be able to expand the website by adding more visuals and resources. So, people would hear about it in the podcast and then be able to go on the website and see what I’m talking about.
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