‘Hey Harold’ podcast brings library to life

Hannah Ahlander working on the Harold B. Lee Library’s new podcast, “Hey Harold.” (Roger Layton)

The Harold B. Lee Library is sharing its lesser-known resources to students via a podcast called “Hey Harold,” which was released on Monday, Jan 20.

BYU student Hannah Ahlander, the creator and director of the podcast, said it features lesser-known aspects and people of the library, such as special collections and book conservation.

“I felt like there was so many cool things that go on behind the scenes,” she said.

Since becoming the public relations specialist at the library, Ahlander has experimented with alternative media routes.

“We just said, ‘why not a podcast?’ It’s just such a big thing right now,” Ahlander said. She has worked on this project since September. 

Podcast listenership has increased by 40% since 2006 according to a study by the Pew Research Center. BYU communications professor Miles Romney said the release of true crime podcast “Serial” in 2014 is what really gave podcasts life.

“True crime wasn’t a new genre, but it was new to the platform,” Romney said. “It brought a lot of people who weren’t listening to podcasts to podcasts.”

Now there are 19 different genres and over 500,000 podcasts on Apple Podcasts, but according to Romney only a small percentage of podcasts are actually successful.

“In order to be successful with podcasts, you have to be really good,” Romney said. “You have to be interesting. You have to know your lane and you have to be an expert. If you don’t do that, you’re just taking into a microphone and recording it for your vanity.”

Among some of those podcast creators are recent BYU grads like Katie Harris, who created the podcast “This One’s For the Girls” during her senior year. She had been a part of podcast production before but had never made one on her own.

“I started it because I wanted to help people understand the struggles a young girl often has in adolescence,” Harris said. “I thought hearing the voices of the young girls would make an impact more than seeing them would, plus I wanted the experience. It had always intrigued me.”

For BYU students, creating a podcast can be as simple as visiting the library. “You can check out sound recorders and microphones,” said Roger Layton, Harold B. Lee Library communications manager. “We have a lab up on the fourth floor that has a whole bank of computers with all the software you’d need.”

 “I’m not a huge tech person,” Ahlander said. “If I can do it, anybody can.” 

Though more and more podcasts continue to be produced each day, Layton believes students will enjoy Ahlander’s new podcast. “I think if people might be just a little curious and give them a listen, they’ll be hooked because she interviewed such interesting people and they’re so enthusiastic,” he said. “I think that’s a little contagious.”

According to Romney, as long as people continue to do activities that require listening, podcasts will continue to have traction. “A lot of people are listening to podcasts when they’re engaged in some other activity,” he said. “As long as we still have those tasks, and those activities that we’re doing, I think the podcast genre form will continue to grow.”

Ahlander is hopeful about the podcast’s success.

“I hope that people listen to it and appreciate the people that work here at the library, because we have so many amazing employees that do amazing things for the students,” she said. “I don’t want their efforts to go unrecognized.” 

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