It’s not often I get to conduct an interview for Discorder Magazine. As the editor-in-chief my role is more peripheral, which is why the opportunity to interview Josh Gabert-Doyon, host of CiTR’s Textbook was so appealing.
Josh has been a longtime photographer and writer for Discorder, involved well before I became editor. As the host of the new student radio hour, Textbook, Josh focuses his journalist spidey-senses to curate a program of intentional storytelling. Although the show is still in its early days, there’s a lot to talk about —
Brit Bachmann: Textbook has replaced the Student Special Hour, which was a show designed to represent student life. Textbook does that well in its own way, but it is a deliberate rebrand of Student Special Hour. What is the inspiration for Textbook?
Josh Gabert-Doyon: The show is evolving out of my work as a journalist … Basically, it is a show about stories — textbook and not so textbook approaches [to storytelling]. Each show is comprised of narrative storytelling or an interview. [There’s] research and writing involved, and it is more academic focused.
In terms of rebranding, I wanted [Textbook] to consider other ways of showing student experience that wasn’t just introducing clubs or events — the real ‘straight and narrow’ approach. It’s just a very restrictive view.
BB: That’s a more honest representation of my experience in school. As a student, I didn’t join clubs or party that often. I was pretty quiet. I appreciate that Textbook also appeals to the more introspective student demographic.
JGD: Yes. [We made] a segment on writing papers, researching and academic life, and I was really struck by this idea that [students] spend all this time working on papers and researching, all in a very solitary pursuit. Your whole student life is spent [writing] in your bedroom for a week, or two weeks, or maybe just one long night before it’s due. Nobody else can understand it, and you can’t really explain it to anybody. The only person who reads it is either your professor or the T.A. who marks it. It’s this weird part of the experience of university. I thought that deserved to be looked at.
BB: Yeah, after graduation it is really hard to not trivialize all the time spent writing papers that nobody will read.
JGD: Right. The only time those topics become relevant is when they are vocalized, the answer to that question, “Tell me about your paper,” at a party.
BB: What’s another topic you’ve covered on Textbook?
JGD: [October 11] I talked to my friend about a job he was doing in L.A. at The Museum of Jurassic Technology, a summer job. It was a place of occult, pseudo-science, and a fake museum. I thought that, set up against school, was silly.
Another program [October 18] is about photography. I was excited to explain photographs over the radio, and the inability of that translating in any real sense.
Going forward, other stuff I want to talk about involves organizing and activism on campus.
BB: Have you heard Jonathan Goldstein’s new podcast Heavyweight?
JGD: You have no idea how into that podcast I am. I love him. That’s also something I want to bring onto the show — more phone conversations on air. And I like that idea too, that maybe that’s just part of being friends with Jonathan Goldstein — friends know that whenever they’re talking to him they might be recorded for radio or podcast.
… I think that the relationships that develop in interviews are interesting. I think that interviewing is a skill. It’s tricky to get genuine.
BB: What other podcasts do you listen to?
JGD: Reply All… Let me just think… I’m also imagining everything I’m saying right now in print, and it’s fucking terrifying.
BB: Oh don’t worry, I’m not going to put everything you say here in print.
JGD: But you’re doing a Q&A format, no?
JGD: Okay good.
The Revisionist History, the new Malcolm Gladwell podcast, is fantastic. The Imposter, also fantastic, and Longform Podcast. Another one I like is The London Review Books.
BB: Every episode broadcast on CiTR 101.9FM also gets podcasted. When you plan your programs, how conscious are you that they’ll become archived podcasts?
JGD: Absolutely. That’s number one. I don’t imagine that anyone is listening live. Sometimes it does happen, but for the most part I’m thinking about it as podcast content.
BB: How confident are you with doing tech on air?
JGD: I have no idea what I’m doing. I’m just learning as I go along … I’m just without a compass on the airwaves. Wait, weird mixed metaphor. I am without a starmap on the open airwaves.
BB: That’s better!
JGD: No, don’t put that in.
BB: It’s okay, I edit.
Textbook airs on CiTR 101.9FM Tuesdays 4-5pm. Archived episodes and podcast stream available at citr.ca/radio/textbook. In addition to radio host, Josh is CiTR’s Student Programming Coordinator. If you’re a UBC student wanting to get involved at CiTR or pitch a concept for a show, email firstname.lastname@example.org.