If your next C1 bus ride feels like it's dragging on forever, you might consider tuning into “Freshly Squeezed Pulp,” (FSP) one of Duke’s many student-produced podcasts. The podcast, co-founded by senior and treasurer of FSP Brock Foreman, who uses they/them pronouns, and rising senior and writer for their Tarzan series Daniel Egitto (he/him), focuses on revamping the familiar stories from the pulp fiction genre for a twenty-first century audience.
Their podcast includes different series based around a pulp novel and offers some comedy and escape from everyday life — a characteristic of pulp fiction. For example, one of their series chronicles the adventures of "Tar-Zaan," which parodies Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original “Tarzan.” They are also currently in the process of writing and producing a series which will parody Homer’s “The Odyssey.”
“It’s fiction that historically was dime-store paperback novels, things that you could pick up really fast and just disappear into while you were working,” said senior and co-founder of FSP, as well as former President and current writer for the group, Madeleine “Mac” Gagné, who uses she/her pronouns.
Students can become completely immersed in the fantastic worlds that "Freshly Squeezed Pulp" brings to life, perfect for a bus ride across campus or a long walk to class.
“When you put your earbuds in and you listen to one of these pieces, you really dissolve into this fictional world that has so many different components,” said Gagné.
"Freshly Squeezed Pulp" also has the full support of a well-loved Duke faculty member, Dean of Students and Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, John Blackshear.
“Dean Blackshear has been a really wonderful supporter of the podcast, and he was actually on one of our episodes for Tarzan,” Gagné said. “When he listened to that episode, he told us, ‘It’s like I put my earbuds in and I disappeared into a completely different world.’”
These episodes are not only meant for entertainment and escape, however. FSP wrestles with modern social and political issues by altering the original pulp fiction stories and creating meaningful discussion about issues such as gender equity and female empowerment, in the case of Tarzan.
“One thing that I found really valuable is combining these familiar — in certain ways, nostalgic — stories that everybody kind of knows… to put a spin on it where it’s not just to modernize the plot or the story so that it’s more relatable to a twenty-first century audience, but it’s actually to add another layer of depth to it where we discuss modern themes,” said sophomore and "Freshly Squeezed Pulp" president Victoria Wang (she/her).
Particularly important to FSP’s mission of modernizing these traditional stories is diversifying traditional pulp fiction characters so that diverse audiences can relate to and enjoy the podcast.
“We take those narratives, but also diversify the different self-insert characters … so that everyone can find a character in their narrative that they can identify with individually and then get to escape and feel that fiction come alive around them,” Gagné said.
To adequately represent these diverse characters and narratives, "Freshly Squeezed Pulp" has reserved space in their writers' rooms specifically for writers who identify as BIPOC as well as spaces for writers who identify as queer.
“We have seventy-five percent people of color writing in that Odyssey project. Our upcoming series on the Adventures of the Forget-Me-Nots… we’re exclusively making that writer’s room available for queer voices. We’re really trying to let storytellers tell it in a very accessible medium for both listener and writer, but also we’re trying to make these spaces where specific voices can be heard,” said senior, Managerial Director and Executive Producer of The Odyssey Nicole Lindbergh (she/her).
FSP can be for anybody and everybody, both in terms of its members and its audience.
“You can enjoy some fun and thoughtful, but kind of zany adventures with casts you know very well and characters you know in a new and exciting way,” said Lindbergh. On joining the podcast, Lindbergh mentioned that “There is no barrier for entry, you don’t have to have any experience.”
Beyond "Freshly Squeezed Pulp," Duke offers a wide variety of student-run podcasts, which span every topic imaginable. Hear at Duke is a great place to find the podcast which speaks the most to you. Other podcasts to explore include "The Political Student," "LAUNCHcast" and Recess's own "Reel to Reel."
The breadth of podcasts created by Duke students speaks to a general rise in popularity of podcasts over the last few years. Part of this may be due to the convenience of the medium, especially for students and workers on the go.
“A podcast is cool because, like a television show, students can listen to it whenever they want to, and they can listen to it on their own time," Gagné said.
So, during your next free moment or ride on the C1, consider plugging yourself into the world of podcasts at Duke.
Editor's note: The article has been updated to include the preferred pronouns of each member of FSP's production team.
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