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IU Podcast Festival Inspires Stories of Survival and Renewal

The power of podcasts is something that excites Julie Deem.

“Hearing our voices, the emotions are so much more raw, and you really feel it,” said Deem, an IU Kokomo alum and podcaster, and a member of the Board of Directors for IU Kokomo’s Podcast Festival 2022. “When you’re listening to a podcast, you can really hear the authenticity.”

You can hear that authenticity in entries like Brenda Grimm’s “Surviving Teen Pregnancy . . . Twice,” one of the winning podcasts from the 2022 IU Kokomo Podcast Festival.

Grimm recounted becoming pregnant with her first child at age 14. She stayed in school until her son was born and took six weeks off before returning. At age 16, she became pregnant again, dropping out of school after her daughter arrived.

“You’re just a statistic—a teen mom who dropped out,” she recalled people telling her.

But Grimm refused to let that be her story. She went back to high school and completed extra work to graduate with her original class. Then she got an associate degree in criminal justice. Now a married 27-year-old mother of three, Grimm is at IU Kokomo pursuing a BS in criminal justice and BA in psychology. She was recently accepted into the honors program.

I refused to sit in a corner and cry about it.

“I refused to sit in a corner and cry about it,” Grimm said. “I did something about it because I had kids who needed me—kids who needed someone to look up to.” Grimm’s podcast won for best exemplifying this year’s Podcast Festival theme: “Stories of Survival, Overcoming, and Renewal.”

The inaugural festival was held in 2021 and returned in 2022 thanks to support from IU Kokomo’s Women of the Well House philanthropic society. Entrants created podcasts covering topics such as comedy, campus history, identity, and small business.

“We had some really great podcasts,” said Paul Cook, founder of the festival and associate professor of English at IU Kokomo. “You give people a theme and you let them run with it, and you see what they can do with it. In doing so, you allow that creativity to really flourish.”

Thank you to the IU Kokomo Newsroom for original reporting that contributed to this story.


Help Women of the Well House support enriching IU Kokomo projects such as the Podcast Festival.

This article was originally published in the 2022 issue of Imagine magazine.

Written By

Andrea Alumbaugh

A native Hoosier, Andrea Alumbaugh is a graduate of IU (BAJ’08) and a senior writer at the IU Foundation.

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