The art of storytelling is more than weaving together words, but connecting minds and hearts to feelings and shared experiences. Class of 1998 alumna Lauren Hansen builds stories for the ears as she is currently working and developing two podcasts with iHeartMedia.
Now in the development stage, the first podcast explores true crime and murder as it dives into the systemic issues around domestic violence. Lauren helps edit what the host is writing episode-to-episode and works on crafting the story structure to draw listeners in. The second podcast is a chat show in which the hosts dive into specific past pop culture moments to understand what they taught us about the world and a woman's place in it. Lauren works with the hosts on conversation structure and then edits the audio with sound design.
“I'm really inspired by real-life struggles and events and how they relate to our past,” said Lauren. “I love finding the threads that connect those issues with the people, events, and stories that happened years ago and answering questions like, 'how did we get here? What can we learn from the past? How far have we come, and who are the people working and fighting to make things better'? That's kind of vague, but in sum: I love historical context; I think it tells us so much about where we are now, why we face the struggles we do and how we can get through them.”
Lauren’s journey to podcasting and hosting took a while, but was necessary. While an undergrad, she said she knew she wanted to get into the editorial side of book publishing. Her first job was on the publicity side at Houghton Mifflin, but she quickly realized she wanted to be a journalist. She began writing for a local paper in Brooklyn, N.Y., before going back to school for digital journalism. She went on to work as a photo editor/editorial assistant at a daily news website based on a weekly magazine, The Week, for seven years. Lauren then transitioned from writing and editing to building her own podcast. The podcasting slate included three short podcasts, 7 Minute Explainers, 7 Minute Opinions, and This Week I Learned. Lauren hosted This Week I Learned and noted it was a DIY process as she was recording in closets and piecing together audio.
In 2018, Lauren landed her dream job working as a producer for a long-standing arts program, Studio 360, hosted by journalist Kurt Andersen. Lauren noted it was the “audio education of her dreams" as she was out pitching, reporting, and narrating her own stories while working with incredible and creative producing partners. After two years, she moved on to work as a supervising producer for Katie Couric’s podcast, Next Question with Katie Couric, at iHeartMedia. Her work consisted of editing her one-on-one interviews before transitioning to pandemic-related stories as they were unfolding. Lauren also worked on larger, in-depth narrative pieces such as exploring the history of voting rights ahead of the 2020 election and the history and future of abortion access in the country. After three years, Lauren said she knew it was time to expand her skill set and work towards leading her own podcasts within the iHeart network.
In regards to storytelling, Lauren noted that she loves when multiple people’s voices can come together to tell a story with choice music or sound design.
“I love when you get a good piece of tape, something that feels so specific you could have experienced it yourself, and that piece of tape leads the story — almost gives away the ending — and hooks a listener and then they are drawn in with you, to see how you unravel it all and connect the dots. I love the challenge of connecting those dots through approachable, relatable language,” she said.
Reflecting on her time under the pines, Lauren fondly remembers English class with former faculty member Betty Lou Blumberg and how she always placed great emphasis on her lessons. Also, sitting in the quad with her friends and spending time outside the classrooms talking before school started. She fondly recounts spending late nights at the Taylor Performing Arts Center rehearsing for productions as she was the stage manager and traveling on the bus with the Girls’ Varsity Soccer team to games.
“The memories where Hamden Hall comes to life most, even today, are the ones with the friends I met there.”
Lauren graduated from Kenyon College in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in English and studio art. She went on to obtain a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 2009. She and her husband Ronnie currently live in Brooklyn, N.Y, with their two children, daughter Pru, 7, and son Sid, 5.