With New Podcast, OU Professors and Students Share How Oklahomans ‘Survive and Thrive’


Oklahomans are no stranger to tragedy. The state’s history is laced with trauma, including the Trail of Tears, Tulsa Race Massacre, Dust Bowl and Oklahoma City bombing.

Now, as the state once again grapples with hardship, this time in the form of health and racial pandemics, three OU professors and five students have joined together to produce “Survive and Thrive: Oklahomans Reflect on COVID-19 and Racism” – a podcast series highlighting Oklahomans who have learned how to “survive and thrive” during this year’s challenges.

Throughout two dozen 40-minute podcasts, senior journalism students KaraLee Langford, Miranda Foster and Brooklyn Wayland will interview Oklahomans from all walks of life on their experiences with hardship and how they were able to overcome them.

“After having a conversation about the dynamics of this podcast, I was interested in how current and relevant these topics would be,” said Langford. “I began thinking about the hardships Oklahoma has overcome, and I realized with the current health and racial pandemics we are in right now, Oklahoma has the opportunity to learn from our past tragedies and discover a new ‘normal.’”

The series will feature a firefighter from the Oklahoma City bombing, survivors of the Plaza Towers tornado disaster, descendants of Dust Bowl survivors, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr., Secretary of Education for the State of Oklahoma Joy Hofmeister, as well as notable OU alumni and donors, including Krista Tippett, Gene Rainbolt, Charlotte Lankard, Joi Gordon, Serene Jones and many others.

“There are people whose stories are worth telling and need to be heard,” Foster said. “I think it is so important for people, myself included, to sit down and listen to the ‘Survive and Thrive’ podcast uninterrupted. There is so much more to Oklahoma than meets the eye, and this podcast is really going to tell the untold story of our state.”

“This podcast explores the complicated history of the state and tells the tough and triumphant stories of its people,” Wayland said. “I know the state and its people are resilient, and that makes for good stories. I am happy to be able to take part in this podcast.”

The first episode premiered Wednesday, Sept. 23. Subsequent episodes will be released every Wednesday at 6 a.m. and can be found on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, TuneIn and Buzz Sprout by searching “Survive in Oklahoma.”

Additional students involved in the project are print journalism major Jessie Smith and online journalism major Zhixuan Fan. Dr. Nancy Snow, director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing; Mike Boettcher, veteran network news correspondent and Gaylord visiting professional professor; and John Schmeltzer, Pulitzer Prize journalist and Engleman/Livermore professor in community journalism, are overseeing the project.

To listen to “Survive and Thrive” and for more information, visit surviveinokla.wixsite.com/surviveandthrive.

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.