Adam Cotterell is a great storyteller. During time as a journalist for Boise State Public Radio he won a multitude of awards for his reporting; but, after nine years, he decided to retire. Having two young daughters had a lot to do with it: He would stay home while his wife worked full-time as a nurse. It's not as if Cotterell has stopped telling fascinating stories, though. For the past several months, he has been crafting an eight-episode podcast series, Some of the Parts, available on SoundCloud, iTunes and the BPSR website. The series covers a variety of underreported and intriguing stories and features some of Cotterell's best work.
Do you still consider yourself a reporter?
I would say I'm a journalist. I'm still telling stories, but I'm not chasing the news of the day.
Can I assume that fatherhood informs how you currently approach journalism?
Honestly, I care a lot less about what's happening in the world in general and a lot more about what's happening in my house or my daughter's school. I get up in the morning, and I'm focused on my kids. I don't want to look at my phone or turn on the radio or TV. It's a lot less important to me what the legislature happens to be doing.
Looking through that lens, did you have a sense of the stories you wanted to tell?
When I was a beat reporter, I wanted a place for voices that didn't get heard on radio and TV—people whose stories were ignored.
Is it your sense that we reporters aren't doing a good enough job seeking out those voices?
We tend to think, "What does our audience want to hear?" I love the public radio audience dearly, but they tend to think they want more politics, economics and government. The stories I'm more interested in are about people from the opposite end of the spectrum—homelessness, poverty and people who are marginalized.
So, how did you turn that concept into the reality of Some of the Parts?
Just before I left BSPR, I told them, "Instead of me quitting entirely, how about I work part-time and create a podcast?"
How did you decide on eight episodes?
We went back and forth. Six? Twelve? In the end, I did what I could in the time available.
And your subjects?
I compiled a list of 20 possible stories. I sent the list out to everybody in the newsroom and let them vote. The winners were some I would have picked and some I wouldn't have picked myself.
Among the stories are a visit with LGBT people who experience homelessness, revisiting Boise's tent city that was Cooper Court and deconstructing Idaho's wide array of accents. But I'm particularly interested in a couple of other episodes. Tell me about the origin of "Poor Shepherds."
I explored how people from outside of Idaho think about Basques versus what Idahoans think about Basques. In much of the world, the thing people know most about Basques is terrorism and the separatist group ETA [Euskadi Ta Askatasuna]. You never hear that talked about in Idaho. It's taboo. It's, "Don't bring that up."
Tell me about another episode you called, "Do You Find My Tractor Sexy?"
Some time ago, I was working on a story about water rights and I met a 56-year-old farmer in Nampa. When he started out, he thought he would get married and have kids, but it just never happened. Well, he's still looking. And he's using dating websites like farmersonly.com.
I'm not the first to tell you this, but your podcasts are superb. Is this something you love?
When you love something, you're not afraid of hard work, but my full-time job is all about my daughters. One is a 6-year-old and the other is 2.
Do your daughters recognize daddy's voice when it comes out of the radio?
But I'm guessing you have your radio voice and your daddy voice.
That's right. One of them is telling them to eat their breakfast, and the other is talking about some farmer who is looking for a date.