Robert Lipscomb

Literature PhD student and lecturer Robert Lipscomb poses for a portrait in his office in Andrews Hall on Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Armed with an idea, University of Nebraska-Lincoln English Professor Robert Lipscomb started the English department’s first podcast: “Plainstate.” The podcast began as a celebration of the English department, as Lipscomb wanted to showcase news and stories to the graduates to undergrads.

“There are so many great things that happen in our very large department,” Lipscomb said. “We just wanted to account for all of them and put our best foot forward.”

Because the English department is so large, Lipscomb said he felt news wasn’t efficiently traveling around internally. Lipscomb created “Plainstate” as a way for the English department to understand what fellow colleagues are accomplishing in their fields. In addition, he said he hopes the podcast will help disseminate news to the English department faculty and students as well as those outside the department.

“We had the idea last spring semester,” Lipscomb said. “We raised money to pay for it through selling t-shirts.”

With the money from the fundraiser, Lipscomb was able to pay for a microphone and a website for a year. Although Lipscomb describes the shirts as a “horrible yellow” color, they helped give him the kickstart to the podcast that he needed.

“Plainstate” has focused on a variety of English-related topics, and Lipscomb regularly brings in guests within the English department to share their accomplishments. A few of the topics have been the Charles Chestnutt digital archive and the UNL Slam Poetry team. Lipscomb also wants to integrate niche topics of the English department, which will bring listeners in to hear about the different facets of the department.

Bianca Swift, a junior English major at UNL, was part of the podcast as a guest with the Slam Poetry team and the Chestnutt archive, and said she believes the podcast is important for showcasing unheard voices.

“You’re hearing voices you wouldn’t ordinarily hear, or opinions and point[s] of view you wouldn’t automatically notice,” Swift said. “[The podcast] can also introduce you to some really cool new projects or groups.”

In addition to highlighting various groups and teams in the UNL English Department, “Plainstate” also hosts a variety of authors and those involved in the department’s inner workings. Chigozie Obioma, UNL’s Booker Prize nominee, was featured in the first podcast. Other featured authors have included Jannine Capo Crucet, author of “My Time Among the Whites” and Laura White, author of “The Alice Books and the Contested Ground of the Natural World.”

Looking to the future of “Plainstate,” Lipscomb said he is working to involve the Nebraska Writers’ Project in hopes to encompass a broad range of English-related news such as award-nominated books and English-centered clubs around campus. In addition, Lipscomb  said he is looking for others who are interested in telling their own stories on the podcast.

Lipscomb said his desire for “Plainstate” is an open-ended format with an easygoing feel. He said he doesn’t want an overly-formatted feel, but wants to focus on the laid-back atmosphere.

“People are put in conversation with each other,” Lipscomb said. “So the podcasts are really just natural and organic where people talk about their projects, [and] about how they work with one another.”