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Listen to the podcasts featuring data sonification from three hyperlocal newsrooms in Wichita, Kansas.

The three podcasts cover a broad range of themes to tell local stories with universal appeal; from the appropriate pronunciation of the name of a local Army chaplain and decorated war hero who could one day become one of the Catholic Church’s few American saints, to the demographic and immigration factors associated with depression symptoms among immigrants, and the impact of COVID-19 on attendance at the library’s Summer Reading Programs.

The Journal

Keep the Republic “Two Names of a Potential Saint” – Episode 3

Wichita residents are known for pronouncing words a little differently from the norm elsewhere. Whether it’s a street named after a famous English town or the river running through the middle of the city, Wichitans have preserved aspects of a local dialect at a time when American culture has become more nationalized. It’s something even city dwellers themselves sometimes joke about. But there’s one case where the preferred local pronunciation has global implications. 

It all has to do with Father Emil Kapaun, a revered Army chaplain and decorated war hero who could one day become one of the Catholic Church’s few American saints. Growing up in Kansas, Father Kapaun pronounced his name like the chess piece, Ka-Pawn.

But for more than five decades, the people of south-central Kansas have said his name differently, CAPE-un, even naming a high school after him using that pronunciation. But as the priest’s profile grows, the original pronunciation is re-emerging, spurred on by the veterans he served with and even the White House. This podcast episode looks at the story behind the two pronunciations and why reconciling them represents a leadership challenge. It also uses open data available from the United States Catholic Bishops and other sources to demonstrate, through sonification, how long the path can be to sainthood and how Kapaun could one day be part of a growing group of saints with U.S. ties.     

Planeta Venus

New Americans: A Journey Into a Healthy Mind – Episode 3

Wichita has the largest immigrant population in Kansas. According to Scribner & Dwyer, immigrants tend to have better mental health than the U.S. born population, but this health advantage diminishes over time.

On this episode we spoke with Dr. Alissa Bey, a PhD graduate from Wichita State University, who chose to study psychology as a response to the struggles that she saw on people around her, including herself, with mental health.

Dr. Bey performed a study in Wichita between 2019 and 2020 assessing Depression Among the Local Immigrant Community. This research focused on the demographic and immigration factors associated with depression symptoms among immigrants living in the Wichita area, on how living in Wichita can impact the mental health of immigrants and what can be done to help improve the mental health of immigrants living in Wichita.

Wichita Public Library

Summer Reading Program

Each summer, the Wichita Public Library hosts the Summer Reading Program for kids and teens ages 0-18. This annual program provides a space for kids and teens to read, participate in learning activities, connect with other kids and teens, and win cool prizes for meeting their reading goals. It’s designed to combat the “summer slide,” or learning loss from the summer break from school.

In 2020, the Wichita Public Library had no choice but to take the annual Summer Reading Program virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift lowered the participation numbers because many kids without access to adequate internet activity at home were unable to participate.

In 2021, the Wichita Public Library offered a hybrid Summer Reading Program, with programming taking place outside and through virtual platforms, like Zoom and Vimeo. Participation numbers increased, but the Library did not see pre-Pandemic participation.

This episode takes you on a deep-dive into the 2021 Summer Reading Program. In this episode, we will discuss attendance numbers to in-person and virtual programs, provide sonifications that compare to the data, and talk about children and teen book check outs during the summer.