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1-on-1 with Elizabeth Caldwell of ‘Flyover Country’

In an effort to get to know Elizabeth Caldwell, our newest member of the Story Hangar family and producer of the podcast ‘Flyover Country’, it was time to head back to Zoom (don’t you love modern technology?) for a quick chat. In the process we also got to meet her dog Wimpy!

You can watch the video embedded below, or read the transcript. But make sure you subscribe and listen to ‘Flyover Country’, a wonderful show filled with unique and interesting stories!

Bob Harkins: Hello everyone, I’m Bob Harkins, founder of the Story Hangar podcast network. So a big part of the plan for 2021 is to grow — to grow our audience and to grow our group of independent documentary podcasters, people who really love storytelling and are passionate about the audio format. So in that vein, I would like to welcome Elizabeth Caldwell to the Story Hangar family. Elizabeth produces a podcast called ‘Flyover Country’ in which she tells stories about her adopted home of Oklahoma. Welcome Elizabeth! Can you introduce yourself a bit and maybe tell us a little bit about who you are?

Elizabeth Caldwell: Yeah! My name’s Elizabeth. I do live in Oklahoma. I guess if I had to characterize myself I would, well I’ve lived a lot of different places and I’ve tried a lot of different jobs, and I’ve really been looking for that thing that really, I love. So that was what brought me to audio.

BH: In the description of your show — and this is great, I love this by the way — “Oklahoma did not seem like Flyover Country to me. It seemed weird and wild and full of life.” So I’m curious about the genesis of the show, “Flyover Country,” why you decided to make this the focus of a podcast?

EC: Because of that term, Flyover Country. I thought it was a rather insulting term really, because there’s millions of people who live here and have really rich and complex lives and I thought that that was insulting. I don’t think that you can really describe any place like that fairly. So I wanted to play off of that idea. My hope was that the stories would be interesting enough to where you would think ‘oh no this isn’t flyover country.’ That was my hope, yeah.

BH: Yeah it’s kind of dismissive right? People don’t go there, they just — the term itself — fly right over to somewhere better, is sort of the implication. But you found even the episodes you’ve produced so far, you’ve found a lot of pretty cool and interesting stories. What has struck you so far, that really excited you?

EC: It started because of my favorite writer from childhood is an Oklahoman, you know, Wilson Rawls, who wrote “Where the Red Fern Grows.” I love that book. You can probably hear my dogs, I have two dogs. So I’m a big dog lover and I’ve been a dog-lover my whole life so that book was really important to me. And I found out that he was Oklahoman. So I thought ‘wow!’ And he had a really interesting life story. So that was how it started. And so I thought ‘I’m going to keep this going. I’m going to keep telling these stories.’

BH: And the dog story is tackled wonderfully in the podcast itself, too. So people should go listen. And that’s … there he is!


EC: Yeah that’s him!

BH: So, why audio storytelling? What drew you to this format?

EC: I am a really indecisive person, unfortunately. It’s something that I’m continuously struggling with and coming to grips with. And audio storytelling is kind of, I kind of think of it as the middle two. It’s storytelling but it’s not a book where it’s all in your mind. And it’s not a movie where you have all these other stimulating details like visuals and things as well as sound. So, it’s got some of those things, but not all of them. And, so I liked that. And honestly on a practical level I like listening because you can do so many other things while you’re listening. Whereas you can clean your house, you can drive your car. And I am kind of a busy person. I like to stay busy. So that kind of appeals to me. But also I think I like listening to them because when you’re not distracted by the way a person looks or the way things look I feel like you can really, it’s more intimate, you can really get to the heart of things you know?


BH: [LAUGHS] I love this addition.

EC: The dog?

BH: Yeah. ‘You’re not distracted by how things look,’ And he turns and looks right in the camera right at that moment. [LAUGHS]… What have you learned so far in this journey, in podcasting in general and then specifically from producing your show?

EC: I think I’ve learned that, you know, making art can really keep you company. Kind of the purpose of it for me. I’ve also learned that people are really kind. I haven’t had too many people turn me down. I don’t think I’ve had anybody turn me down when I’ve asked ‘Oh can I talk to you?’ Just a stranger calling out of the blue. ‘Can I talk to you about you know your life? What is your life like?’ And nobody has said ‘Oh that makes me uncomfortable I can’t do it.’ I mean so that’s amazing. I learned that a lot.

BH: And what’s next? What’s coming next for ‘Flyover Country’?

EC: Well so, as you know, I’ve been having many thoughts, but I do have a couple of episodes that I was thinking of putting on Season 1 but they didn’t quite make it. Just because I recorded the sound in December or later you know? One of them is this man who lost his pet raccoon. He had a pet raccoon and then he lost it. The citizens of Norman, where I live, actually formed a search party and they were going out and looking for this man’s pet raccoon. I won’t tell you what happened…

BH: How do you distinguish a pet raccoon from a … did he have a collar?

EC: No, I think he was just more docile and he was bigger because he had eaten a lot of people food rather than raccoon food.

BH: Alright. We’re looking forward to that. And we have to, because he’s been a guest, what’s your dog’s name?

EC: Well his name is Wimpy.

BH: Wimpy, OK.

EC: His name is Wimpy because he was basically a stray. And when I found him he just wanted to go outside all the time so he would cry. So I called him Wimpy.

BH: Well welcome Wimpy, welcome Elizabeth. The podcast is available wherever you can get podcasts right?

EC: Yes!

BH: And ‘Flyover Country’, you have a web site as well. And you have a page up on where we’ll have lots more information about Elizabeth and her show there. So thank you everybody, and welcome to Story Hangar, Elizabeth!

EC: Thank you.

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