Learning for Life @ Gustavus to Air 150th InterviewGreg Kaster's discussion with Board of Trustees Chair Marcia Page '82 drops on March 25.
Posted on March 25th, 2024 by

Greg Kaster's interview with Gustavus Board of Trustees Chair Marcia Page '82 will arrive on March 25.

When Greg Kaster started his podcast, he didn’t envision it becoming an ever-expanding, increasingly comprehensive historical record of modern-era Gustavus; in fact, he was only vaguely aware of what a podcast was. 

It began in 2020 with a live, in-person (and unrecorded) interview with Warren Beck ’67, a Gustavus History major and the namesake of the Warren & Donna Beck Academic Hall. “Our department just wanted to honor him, and they thought I could interview him,” said Kaster, Professor of History and African Studies. “It was a blast. The room was packed. And a colleague came up to me afterwards and said, ‘You should do a podcast.’ Well, I kind of knew what that was, but I had this idea in my head of ‘Learning for Life at Gustavus,’ and I was talking about it to [Director of Alumni and Parent Engagement] Angela Erickson ‘01. She and a few others were encouraging, and off we went.”

Four years later, the Learning for Life @ Gustavus podcast will air its 150th interview, a sit-down with Board of Trustees Chair Marcia Page ’82, which will drop on Tuesday, March 26. Apart from a handful of early shorter episodes, the podcasts are (roughly) hour-long conversations with Gusties past and present. They dive into wide ranges of topics, including the guests’ personal stories, insights about their professional lives and experiences, and reminiscences about the highlights and lessons learned during their time on the Hill. 

It’s become a labor of love for Kaster, who said he spends about five hours per episode researching his guests’ backgrounds and preparing for the conversations. “It is more time consuming than I thought it was going to be, and it’s on top of everything else I do in the classroom,” he said. “I do some due diligence beforehand, trying to find angles [of discourse] on people that even they may have forgotten about, just to make it interesting.” Occasionally, he will hand off an interview to another faculty member—for example, for a visiting lecturer—if that person has a more relevant connection to the interviewee or the subject matter. “I’ve said to colleagues, this isn’t mine, and if someone else has more expertise than I do, they should do the interview,” he said.

Although it may seem daunting to keep someone talking about themselves for up to an hour, Kaster hasn’t found that to be an issue. He looks for ways to draw people out, make them comfortable, and achieve the vibe of a conversation between friends or peers. “I really do enjoy talking to people and learning about what they do,” he said. “Everybody has some interesting story to tell.” And if 150 sounds like a massive number of ostensibly “interesting” people, Kaster said that at any given time, his prospective interviewee list might be 50-100 people deep, so his biggest challenge is actually narrowing it down.

To that end, Kaster wants to focus on securing older alumni as well as current students, and he might explore alternative presentations such as bringing in a group of people from similar professions—Gusties all, of course—and build an episode around a topic instead of a person. As he launches into conversation 151 and beyond, the main thing he knows for sure is how much he’s enjoying himself. “I didn’t set out to create some historical record,” he said. “My hope is that it would somehow help raise the profile of this place. And how I almost always feel after completing one of these recordings is the way you feel when you’re coming out of a good class. I’m energized by talking to colleagues as if I were a student of theirs. They’re interesting and exciting to work with.”

Learning for Life @ Gustavus is available on all podcast platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and others.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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