Anne Brice knows nothing.
And as podcast producer for UC Berkeley’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, she is reminded of that every time she sits down to interview the exceptional members of Berkeley’s campus community.
“When you get to know people on a deeper level, and understand the reasons they do what they do, you realize, when it comes to people and their experiences — you know nothing at all,” said Brice. “It’s a really good reminder to always start from a place of curiosity and compassion.”
Brice aims to capture that sense of humility for listeners of her podcast Berkeley Voices, which will run a new episode every other Friday. The podcast, which used to be called Fiat Vox and is re-launching with a new name and approach, will go behind the scenes of the research, work and personal journeys of students, staff and faculty at Berkeley. The podcast can be found on all the major podcast platforms.
The hope is to build community, said Brice, by sharing stories that get to the source of what makes Berkeley unique — the people.
Like professor Ronald Rael, who installed bright pink teeter totters at the U.S.-Mexico border wall to connect people from both sides. Or international staffer Erika Johnson, who uses ballet to stay connected to her Ukrainian culture. And Fred DeWitt, an art student who — after the death of George Floyd — expressed himself by sculpting Floyd’s shoe in his remembrance.
“I think a lot of times learning about the struggles and challenges other people go through helps us feel like we’re not alone,” Brice said. “Someone can say ‘I’m also struggling in this way, too, but now, I feel like I’ll get through it.’… People can feel like they’re part of a community.”
On last week’s episode, Brice interviewed third-year Afghan student Maryam Karimi, who talks about her family in Afghanistan and how she feels about the Taliban takeover. Next Friday, she will produce a podcast about Ballet Folklorico Reflejos De Mexico, a Berkeley student group that performs traditional Mexican dances.
A Berkeley Journalism alumnus with over 15 years of reporting experience, Brice came back to UC Berkeley in 2015 after working in Sitka, Alaska, as a radio correspondent. Five years ago, she began producing occasional podcasts for Berkeley News.
There’s something about telling stories through a podcast, versus the written word, she said, that gets to the heart of a person’s experiences.
“The trembling of a person’s voice, a sudden quirk in their speech pattern, or when they pause to think about something — you’re really hearing them in their natural element,” said Brice. “It brings you into their world in a way that other media don’t.”
As podcasting became more popular, Brice built a following through her podcasts that covered anything from an in-depth interview with The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood to “What crocodile mummies can tell us about everyday life in ancient Egypt.” She also created Berkeley Talks, a podcast that features campus lectures and conversations.
In June, one of Brice’s podcasts interviewing a Berkeley expert about the women behind the Montgomery bus boycott received a gold award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), a global nonprofit dedicated to educational advancement.
Judges described the podcast as “NPR quality.”
“Ideally, when a person shares their story, or their research and work, they listen back to it, and say ‘I feel proud of who I am and that I was able to share that part of myself,’” she said. “I really don’t like making people feel like I misrepresented them. I try to tell their story in a way that they’d want it to be told.”
That’s how Natalyn Daniels, a Berkeley alumnus who now serves as a Clery liaison on campus, felt after collaborating with Brice on a podcast last spring. In the podcast, “Language is more than how we speak — it’s home,” Daniels explores the impact of her multicultural background on how she communicates in a higher education setting.
Daniels said Brice’s approach to podcasting was disarming.
“Her questions were deeply thoughtful and engaging, and it was really sort of magical to watch all the preparation work required,” Daniels said. “I would encourage anyone to consider sharing their stories, if they are inclined to. I learned so much through the process, and felt like Anne and the team are so compassionate and knowledgeable.”
With Berkeley Voices, Brice said, she aims to include more engaging content through first-person narratives and timely interviews with Berkeley News writers.
She hopes sharing the diversity of experiences at Berkeley will expand discourse around relevant news and engaging personal stories, alike.
“There’s so much going on in the world all the time, it’s easy to categorize things or listen to the statistics and forget that there are human beings behind those numbers,” said Brice. “I hope people listen to the podcast and they end up having a little bit more compassion and empathy for what people are going through — and for what they’ve been through.”