Everyday People: Miriam Colvin

This Penn State student's storytelling caught NPR's attention.

Miriam Colvin

Hometown: Jupiter, Fla.

Campus: University Park

Claim to fame: Winner of NPR’s 2021 podcast challenge for college students

Favorite class: With a minor in creative writing, she loves English 281, which studies television scripts.

Hobbies: Watching all things comedy: Bo Burnham sketches, The Office, and Wes Anderson films

 

The Greatest
When Miriam Colvin decided to preserve one of her grandfather’s cherished stories over the 2020 winter break, she ordered a microphone off Amazon and started recording him from her home in Florida. The story goes: Growing up in Indiana in the 1950s, his friends started a boxing club in a neighbor’s barn. They eventually took their toughest guy, 19-year-old Crummy Lynch, on the road to fight in Louisville, where he was matched against a 14-year-old named Cassius Clay. After interviewing another source over Zoom and fact-checking the family lore, Colvin turned the firsthand accounts into a colorful seven-minute oral history about one of Muhammad Ali’s earliest fights. She submitted it to NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge—and was named a winner.

Industry Inspiration
Now a sophomore at University Park, Colvin is a long-time fan of public radio, especially of the shows This American Life and Snap Judgment. She mirrored the style and format of these shows in her podcast, from the narration to placement of music and sound effects. Now she’ll be able to practice the craft with some equipment upgrades: She won a fancy new desk microphone and headphones as part of the competition.

Tuned in
The theatre studies major had a crash course in journalism last fall as a news intern for WPSU, where she reported on events in downtown State College and published audio snippets about them.

Bring on the Drama
She can act, tap dance, play piano, and put together podcasts, but Colvin really wants to pursue writing and directing. She’s always working on scripts and has already submitted some originals to the theatre department in hopes of getting produced. “I can see myself doing a lot of different things, but playwriting or screenwriting is something I don’t want to give up,” says Colvin. “I’m learning what makes a good story.”