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‘Who Knew?’ a history podcast for all

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Two members of the social studies department at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington joined forces last spring to increase student engagement in the midst of social distancing due to COVID-19. Advanced Placement U.S. History teachers Geoff Rixon and Chesney Allgood dug into some of the more unique and less explored parts of American history and launched a podcast they titled: “Who Knew? A History Podcast.”

 “We started the podcast as a really great way to connect with our students and colleagues when the school closed in March,” said Allgood. “We both missed getting to see everyone each day. What you hear on our show is a lot like what you would hear between us in the faculty room during our lunch break.”

“We pick the episodes based on general knowledge one of us has on a particular topic, as well as just something one of us might want to research,” added Rixon. “For example, I didn’t know very much about Arthur Ashe, other than the fact that he is a famous tennis player, and in doing the research for the episode, I was amazed to learn about his early life, his struggle against segregation and his quiet activism.”

The duo worked remotely on the episodes, recording the audio files and streaming the episodes. New episodes were released on Mondays, and they are nearing the end of their first full season, which will consist of 20 regular episodes plus several bonus episodes. Their listenership has grown beyond their classes and beyond the school. They currently have listeners in 29 states and Washington, D.C., along with 21 foreign countries.

Their students have given them positive reviews and suggestions for episodes, too. Last May’s episode, “Thomas Edison vs. Nikola Tesla,” was produced based on student feedback.

Rixon is also the social studies department chair at O’Connell. “Surprisingly, this podcast has also offered me a chance to learn a new skill during social distancing,” he said. “I really had no experience with audio editing before this. This has been a great challenge, as well as a great opportunity.”


Listen to the podcast

You can listen to the podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020