What does rural mean in the 21st century?
That is the central question that shapes the episodes of Rural Routes, a new podcast program that is quickly gaining popularity across Canada, as well as internationally.
The program, an initiative of Memorial University’s Harris Centre, in partnership with the Rural Policy Learning Commons and Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation, was created by Bojan Fürst, the centre’s knowledge mobilization manager.
“It all came about from a conversation with a fellow researcher, Ryan Gibson,” said Mr. Fürst, who met Mr. Gibson through his work with the Canadian Rural Revitalization Foundation. “We were both struck with just how much rural research is out there and so few people know about it. We wanted to find a creative way of sharing all the really interesting research we get to hear about through our networks across the country.”
Mr. Fürst says one of the main goals of the Rural Routes podcast is similar to that of the Harris Centre: stimulating a two-way knowledge exchange.
“The podcast is a great format, it’s conversational, it’s accessible, and it can be instantly and widely shared around the world,” said Mr. Fürst, whose background in broadcast radio journalism made the role of host and producer an obvious fit. “With virtually no advertising, in just three months, we have gained listeners worldwide.”
Nine episodes later, Rural Routes is finding its place in the vast world of podcasts with topics on everything from the impacts of mining on rural communities to the benefits and challenges of parenting in rural regions. As the show’s audience grows, researchers from across the country are approaching Mr. Fürst in order to share their stories.
“We are interviewing a lot of incredible researchers right now,” he said. “And the list keeps growing. In the future, we have plans to talk to an even wider variety of rural voices and experts outside of academia, which will help the content become richer and more diverse, and really showcase the innovations and interesting stories in rural Canada.”
The centre also has plans to expand the audience, as well as the content experts, sharing content with community radio stations around the country, as well as the podcast audience.
“We have really great national partners on this project and that goes a long way to increase the reach of the content,” said Mr. Fürst. “The National Campus and Community Radio Association is an incredible grassroots network that allows programming like Rural Routes to reach a diverse and socially engaged audience right across the country.”
The show is supported through a Social Sciences and Humanities Connection grant and in-kind contributions from partners across the country.
Rural Routes is available online at www.ruralroutespodcasts.com. The show is also available for streaming or download through iTunes, Google Play, SoundCloud, and Stitcher, and is available free of charge to community and campus radio stations through the National Campus and Community Radio Association program exchange.