Now Here This, co-founded by Sophie McKibben ’16 and Liza Yeager ’17, is an online platform for student-produced audio stories. New pieces will be released weekly, “featuring memoirs and interviews, investigative journalism and live storytelling, slam poetry, and more,” on the website designed by Emma Funk ’16.
The concept of Now Here This originated this past fall, when McKibben and Yeager realized that Brown was missing a platform – “an audio platform to host all kinds of the audio stories they loved to listen to.” The idea of creating such a project caught fire, and soon enough, a team assembled to make this dream a reality. Now, the organization has grown through collaboration with Brown Storytellers and support from the Dean’s Office, the Transformative Conversations Initiative at Brown, advisors Professor Beth Taylor from the English Department and Alex Braunstein from the Swearer Center, as well as from the Brown community at large.
Audio stories on the site will tap into a variety of formats and topics. Some “Features” pieces will perhaps remind listeners of podcasts like This American Life or Radiolab, featuring personal stories and investigations into science topics, for example. Some stories will have producers narrating, in the style of 99% Invisible, and others, such as the “Creative Nonfiction” pieces, may remind listeners of recordings by David Sedaris. Though inspired by the podcasts McKibben and Yeager grew up listening to, Now Here This is “not quite a podcast and not quite a radio station,” while aiming to carve out its own genre of audio content. The platform hopes to combine all different kinds of audio storytelling, not limited to a specified format or subject.
Now Here This launches today with 12 stories available to listen on the site. After that, 2-3 stories will be released weekly, and all stories will be archived and available for streaming. The 12 new pieces range from 4 to 22 minutes in length, including stories such as “Magical Thinking,” a piece about the intersections between the social justice and magic communities at Brown, “Sophie is a Punk Rocker,” about Sophie Kasakove ’17, who used to be a famous tween punk rock star (once performing at the same concert as Justin Bieber when she was 14), and “Teen Marine Adventure,” in which Will tries to track down his 6th grade crush from summer camp named Caroline.
Because they are presented in their most authentic forms, the stories featured on Now Here This are uniquely honest. As soon as they begin, the narratives come alive and the listener becomes immersed in engaging almost-conversation with the storytellers. The authenticity of the narrator makes each piece so resonant, relatable, and undeniably human.
One of the most exciting aspects of Now Here This is its scope. As its title implies, the platform focuses almost exclusively on “this place, these people.” Now Here This attempts to capture the distinct spaces and moments occurring around campus, showing listeners the vibrant characters and diverse stories that permeate the Brown community.
On the program’s Facebook page, McKibben and Yeager explain the platform’s purpose: “Our mission is to connect listeners with diverse emotions, experiences, and ideas through stories told out loud. We believe that voices are at the heart of human connection, and we can’t wait to share what we’re hearing.” We can’t wait either.
nowherethis.org is officially online, with 12 new audio stories available to listen on their website.