Archives on Podcasts: Ologies
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
Like so many people these days, I listen to podcasts to get me through my bus rides back and forth to work, the 8 hours I'm contractually required to work at my job, and whenever I find the time to get to the gym. As you may have guessed, I listen to a lot of podcasts.
Conceptually, podcasts lend themselves surprisingly well to archives since most interview-oriented shows act like oral histories. But that's an article for another time (seriously, I've actually written about podcasts as oral histories). Instead, I want to talk about a podcast that regularly features archives even if they're only referenced as the facility where the interview is taking place. Today, I want to talk about Ologies.
Hosted by Alie Ward, Ologies is all about interviewing the people who make a living as a type of -ologist or work in an -ology field while also getting into the nitty-gritty details about their chosen profession. It is a passion project of the highest order because a) the interviewees rarely bring a negative vibe when chatting about their jobs and b) Alie Ward has basically said the podcast is her passion project.
Episodes are fairly straight forward interviews, but Ward adds a little extra in the form of "interruptions" to provide additional background information or fun facts she discovered on the internet while researching the episode's topic or something brought up by the interviewee that she finds interesting, or terrifying. Or both. Listening to Ologies is part educational programming and part voyage into Alie Ward's frenetic roller coaster of a mind. It's amazing.
"So, what does this have to with archives?" you ask. And I'm glad you did. For the most part, archives exist in the background, but it's important to note that many of the experts Ward talks to operate out of libraries, museums, and yes, archives. Episode 22 is, in fact, all about Museology (Museums) with Ronnie Cline and covers an array of subjects from national parks to book sniffing. Episode 16, Ichthyology (Fish) with Chris Thacker, takes place in the LA County Natural History Museum archives where the two chat surrounded by fish samples. Episode 42, Oology (Eggs) with John Bates, features bits of Ward's tour of the Chicago Field Museum's Egg Vault. The list goes on, but these are the episodes that come to mind should you be inclined to listen based on a desperate need for archival content. Also, maybe you learn a little something about Areology (Mars), Selachimorphology (Sharks), and Corvid Thanatology (Crow Funerals). At the very least, you get some Greek and Latin root words under your belt.
For my part, I enjoy listening to professionals who love what they do, but also bring a sense of fun, humor, and excitement. There's a tone people have when they talk about the thing they love most and I hear it a lot on Ologies, from the host and the guests. That excitement is infectious and a balm for my history-loving soul.
Quick question, though: is Archivology a thing? Can we make it a thing? Why isn't it a thing?