How the Howard Thurman Center’s Podcast Finds a Common Thread

When it comes to large media outlets at BU, our focus tends to go to online publications like the Quad, WTBU, BUTV10, and the infamous Daily Free Press. What some BU students may not know is that BU also boasts several podcasts. We sat down with a couple members of one of them — The Common Thread Podcast — to get a sense of the show and why they choose to do a podcast format.

According to the Howard Thurman Center’s website, the Common Thread “features the work of dedicated and talented undergraduates, who are committed to creating a quality show that works to inform, inspire, and break barriers of divisiveness at Boston University.”

In the current Spring 2017 semester, the executive producers are Kobe Yank-Jacobs (CAS ’18) and Matthias Grenon (CAS ’17), and the Chief Technical Director is Lucas Watson (ENG ’18). Other team members include, Evan Rogers (CAS ’18) Mac Parker (CAS ’17), and Varsha Srivastava (COM ’18), and Elliott Pope (CAS ’18)

The current Common Thread team says the idea to create the program was brought up several years ago through the Howard Thurman Center. Over the years, various individuals had attempted to revive the Common Thread but it never came to fruition.

When the current team caught wind of the project, they felt it was important that the Common Thread become a success as a podcast. “It’s a great reason to take advantage of all the great resources we have at BU and just in the city of Boston,” says Yank-Jacobs.

Prior to being a downloadable podcast, the Common Thread was a poor-man’s podcast: videos with a recorded discussion were posted to HTC’s YouTube channel often with a blank screen or a still image. With the help of Watson and audio equipment supplied by the HTC, they decided to turn the show into a real podcast. Now, shows are typically recorded in the Howard Thurman Center and episodes are posted several times a month while BU is in session.

Rather than be discussion-based, similar to many of the other programs run by the HTC, the team wanted to conduct research-based interviews on a variety of topics.

After attending the 2016 celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at BU, Grenon felt disappointed at the lack of focus placed on the cultural and political legacy of MLK.

“My perception of it was, that his legacy as an activist, as a social activist, was somewhat white-washed,” Grenon says. After discussing ideas of what to do with this information and this feeling, the team decided to do an episode based on MLK’s career following his receiving of the Nobel Peace Prize. “It was a really intensive process,” says Yank-Jacobs.

For the pilot episode of the podcast from April 2016 , the team took plenty of time conducting research and recording interviews. Ultimately, they brought in Julian Cook (STH ’16), then graduate and research assistant to Dr. Walter Fluker, Director of the Howard Thurman Papers Project and BU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Chair for Ethical Leadership. Cook was able to bring a vast amount of knowledge to the episode that the team otherwise would not have had and they were able to present a cohesive story.

“Podcasts are a really good way to just condense the information through the lens of an expert,” says Pope.

When it comes down to it, the Common Thread team likes being a podcast because of the accessibility to the episodes.

“The real appeal of the podcast is… you can basically tune into your own radio show whenever you want,” says Grenon. “You’re never missing anything.”

Check out the Common Thread online, on iTunes, or Google Play. If interested in joining the team you can find out more here.

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About Yadira Flores

Yadira Flores (CAS '19) is an English major and the Editor-in-Chief of the Quad. Skills include: An inability to cook, loving socks, and forcing friendship onto others. Contact her at

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