ITHACA, N.Y.—ThisIsIthaca, a local podcast, is a labor of love brought to life by friends and co-hosts, Marietta Synodis and Florenz Gilly. The co-hosts come from differing backgrounds — Marietta originally moved to Ithaca around 7 years ago to study herbal medicine. Her plan was to stay for six months but she ended up calling Ithaca her home. She’s now a storyteller that works in various mediums, such as radio, theater and puppetry.
Florenz, originally from Berlin, Germany, came to Ithaca in 2019 to study at Cornell for a year. He now resides in Vienna, Austria where he currently attends medical school. Whenever he’s not studying anatomy, he produces radio segments and podcasts, like ThisIsIthaca.
Ithaca Voice: What is the overarching purpose of ThisIsIthaca?
Marietta Synodis: To illuminate and honor the different individuals who, together, make up a community — in this case, Ithaca. It’s my hope, too, that by hearing each person’s story, the listener’s perspective is broadened and connections are made about how we all contribute to building a vibrant community.
Florenz Gilly: The purpose of the podcast is to again showcase the connections that make up this community, and as someone who was not native to the United States, it helped me get to know the people and helped me better understand Ithaca as a whole.
IV: Generally, what is the theme of each episode? Do you go into each episode hoping for a specific outcome, or do you just go with the flow and see what happens? As well, do you have any ideas for future episodes of the podcast?
MS: Each episode is an audio portrait of a different individual (or sometimes group of individuals) — I like to call it a sonic snapshot. Some of the people we interviewed were chosen for their profession, some for organizations they are a part of, and some for their passions/interests. There is absolutely no agenda here — our goal is simply to present the individual in as honest a way as possible. The only thing we do aim for is to be concise; each episode is typically between 10-15 minutes. The hardest part is choosing what to include from the entire interview — which in some cases is upwards of 2+ hours!
FG: In addition to Marietta’s comment — we also have not even published half of what we have in stock, and many future episodes will include the residents of Titus Towers, a local developer, a barista who successfully unionized an expat, an environmental activist from Switzerland and Dr. Nia Nunn, who is a current associate professor at Ithaca College as well as the current Board of Directors president for the Southside Community Center. We also have a previous interview that we did with a former colleague who participated in the local dragon boat team. There’s so many great people that we want to showcase in our podcast, and we have many great things in the works.
IV: Where do you think you fit into local Ithaca media? What sets you apart from other media creators in Ithaca?
MS: I would love ThisIsIthaca to be a part of everyone’s regular media diet, at least everyone residing in Tompkins & Schuyler Counties. We aim to release one podcast per month, so we’re bite-sized at the moment. It’s interesting because in a sense we’re like an oral history project, though we do have a journalistic background and maintain journalistic standards for the podcast.
FG: Although we have a steady and engaged listenership, as a former Cornellian, I would love if more students, whether they be from Ithaca College or Cornell, were to listen to the podcast. It makes the experience of living in Ithaca that much more memorable because while I barely remember classes I’ve taken, I remember every single interview I’ve done and it gives you a beautiful appreciation for the city.
I also like to say our podcast is like an archive of the world and of the people pre-covid since most of these interviews were recorded prior to the pandemic. Lastly, I think our podcast brings to light the individuality of people and how their lives are in the 21st century.
IV: What do you see in ThisIsIthaca’s future? Do you have any further goals you hope to accomplish?
M: I do hope to widen our listenership. Obviously the podcast is particularly relevant to folks that know and spend time in the Ithaca area, but there are many universal messages that can be drawn from these profiles. Yes, these are snapshots of people in this particular community—but the themes explored can be appreciated and valued by any community.
Also, Story House Ithaca is featuring us in their Placemaker series on April 26. The event is free and will be online. For more info, visit their website: https://www.storyhouseithaca.org/