Heritage Tree Podcasts

JoAnne Hermens and Annie Amsden recording their scripts at KBOO. Photo by Danielle Horn.

By Annie Amsden, Danielle Horn, and JoAnne Hermens ::

Our group decided to make podcasts about the Portland Heritage Trees to provide a fun, easy introduction to this little-known aspect of our city life. These podcasts add to the collection created by students in course in 2015. We hope that making local history available in multiple formats online will allow for more people to access and share it.  Teachers might use them to interest students of all ages in the trees, and neighborhood walking tours can listen to the story of local city development or about a unique tree species in their area. Some listeners might search for these Heritage Trees as an unusual landmark or simply look around their outdoor world with a new curiosity. Perhaps most importantly, these stories will spread the knowledge of this program and drive interest in these trees to encourage citizens from around the city to nominate new trees to the list.

We started writing our podcast scripts by condensing eight tree histories into three minute summaries, attempting to sound conversational and to play up the most interesting historical or scientific facts. We decided to keep the podcasts short to maintain listener’s interest, and linked the podcasts to blog posts where people can find more information about individual trees.

Recording was sometimes frustrating, such as when we had to re-record due to mispronunciations, stumbles, or hurried speech, but it was satisfying to hear the episodes take shape as we played back our work and tweaked it to sound better. We learned that it was faster to re-record a whole episode rather than go through and fix all the little mistakes. Danielle and Annie especially enjoyed the editing process, where they layered several tracks to create the finished podcasts. Instead of using music in the background of the podcasts, the group decided to have JoAnne record early morning birdsongs in her backyard. Once we were satisfied with how the episodes sounded, we uploaded all eight to the Heritage Tree Soundcloud account, where the previous class had several podcasts already. We hope that future classes will continue to add to this collection and increase the variety of stories available.

We want to thank our classmates, the archivists at the Portland City Archives and the Oregon Historical Society, the tree owners who shared their stories, and other community members for helping us discover these stories. We also want to thank Erin Yanke of the KBOO community radio station who brought us up to speed on recording and editing.

Listen to all the podcasts on Soundcloud.


[featured image | Portland Heritage Tree #10: White Oak by Paul Gerald]