“All serious daring starts from within,” wrote Eudora Welty. Her quote serves as a springboard for a new podcast called The Daring, featuring the most exciting voices in arts, literature, business, and lifestyle, most of whom are Mississippians.
Schuyler Dickson, a fiction writer and musician from Canton, earned his undergraduate degree in Southern Studies in 2007 and an MFA in Creative Writing in 2012 from Northwestern University, where he served as fiction editor at TriQuarterly Online and won the Distinguished Thesis Award. Currently, he teaches AP Literature and AP Language at Jackson Academy.
His idea for The Daring podcast came from being a fan of podcasts and noticing that one showcasing Mississippians living unconventional lives didn’t exist. He also had a sense of frustration with where he lives, and instead of reacting to the negativity, he felt the need to go out and find people doing inspirational things.
“The Daring shares positive stories of people doing cool stuff in our backyard,” he said. “By giving a mouthpiece to people striving for positive change, I hope that the podcast can help inspire change in the folks that listen, and those folks can then turn an eye toward improving their communities using whatever gifts they’ve been given.”
One of his goals is to continue to get the word out and grow the audience by booking great guests and keeping the quality as high as possible.
“So far, the podcast has caught on very organically, mostly by word of mouth and social media,” Dickson said. “I’ve found that with each different type of guest I’ve talked to, the audience has grown and diversified. I hope that trend continues.”
His guests include authors, comedians, and activists, including Michael Farris Smith, James Meredith, George Malvaney, and Rita Brent, to name a few.
“My criteria for interviewing people is two-fold and pretty straightforward: could a person’s life be classified as ‘daring’ in some way and does it sound like a good time to sit down and talk to them?” Dickson said.
When the time comes to booking guests, Dickson’s antennae are out and he searches high and low for ideas: the news, the bookstore, recommendations from other podcast guests, recommendations from friends and listeners, etc.
“For the most part, it is pretty easy to get folks to agree to do it,” Dickson said. “One thing I learned from being an editor at a literary magazine is that if you just shoot people an email and explain who you are and what you’re doing, then you’re usually going to get an email back. People want to support someone who’s trying something new, I’ve found, and that support from people I really admire has been the greatest thing about this ride so far.”
His experience as a Southern Studies student also affects the podcast.
“Southern Studies classes helped with the podcast by encouraging me to be independent and self-reliant and wide-read in my education,” he said. “The best thing that Southern Studies did—and this has been true for everything I’ve done so far—was taught me how to ask good questions.”
From a technical standpoint, Dickson uses two condenser microphones (MXL 250), some boom stands and shock mounts he attaches to portable TV trays, and a Focusrite Scarlett 2-channel USB interface. He leaves most of the one-on-one conversations as unedited as possible, but he does record an intro and outro in order to give context to the conversation, point the audience toward the guest’s social media, and drop in the theme music.
Listeners can subscribe to The Daring on iTunes or listen at thedaringpodcast.com. The show is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
(This article originally appeared in the Fall issue of The Southern Register. Written by Rebecca Lauck Cleary.)