Augustana voices share COVID experiences in ‘Alone Together’

The “Alone Together” podcast aired on April 29, showcasing the different situations people in the Augustana community are dealing with during COVID-19.

At the beginning of each episode, either Pastor Ann Rosendale or Senior Director of Alumni Relations Joel Gackle states that “Alone Together” is “a storytelling initiative documenting how our university community navigates living and learning through a global pandemic.”

The podcast, as the name suggests, is meant to bring Augustana together during the coronavirus.

“We’re all dealing with many of the same challenges, and so we have each other in solidarity,” Rosendale said.

And the community is finding ways to interact while social distancing.

“The thing that is most striking for me in all of this is the resilience of the Augustana community and the innovation and creativity that has come out of this,” Rosendale said.

Alternating episodes that air Mondays and Fridays, Rosendale interviews people on campus, and her co-host speaks with alumni. Peter Folliard, orchestra director and assistant music professor, produces the podcast, editing the audio and putting in music.

In the midst of Rosendale and Gackle interviewing and Folliard producing the interviews, Folliard caught a virus.

Although he tested negative for COVID-19, Rosendale is convinced that it was, in fact, the coronavirus because Folliard’s doctor told him that 30% of negative results are false negatives and that Folliard should stay home.

His doctor was convinced it was COVID-19, according to a KELO interview with Folliard.

Folliard was quarantined for almost three weeks, but the podcast still came out clean cut, Rosendale said.

After all of their interviews and Folliard getting sick, the podcast team has roughly 20 episodes lined up to be posted.

“Pastor Ann and I have the easy role of carrying on a conversation, and Dr. Folliard does the heavy lifting of editing and uploading,” Gackle said.

Each interview centers around a totally different lifestyle and situation during the pandemic.

“I’ve talked to students about online learning and what that looks like for them,” Rosendale said. “I’ve talked to professors about teaching remotely amid dogs barking and children playing and the challenge of that — and the gifts of that, too.”

Each interview takes place via Zoom recording, and then the audio is plucked from the file and produced. The interviewees so far include Augustana professors Jenny Gubbels and Andrew Klose, front-line pulmonologist Dr. Dayna Groskreutz, ASA President Luca Amayo and Provost Colin Irvine.

“Really, I’ve been reaching out to alums and asking ‘What’s your life look like if you’re realizing that all of our lives are changing?’” Gackle said. “My interviews have been from Alaska to the Bay area — Chicago to South Dakota to Florida.”

Each interviewee has a story fundamentally different from the last.

“And I don’t imagine that everyone will listen to every episode,” Rosendale said.

Because of the way the podcast is built, exploring different types of situations and struggles, the co-hosts think that each episode will draw in its own unique audience.

Rosendale said that if the interviewee is a professor, the episode is more likely to have a larger audience of professors. And if the interviewee is part of the international student community, the audience for that episode would include more international students.

On the other hand, Gackle said that many listeners just like to hear a different perspective from their own — whether it be student, health care or otherwise.

“I just think people will find their niche,” Rosendale said.

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