Producer Shima Oliaee on Making Dolly Partons America


Hello and welcome to inside podcasting the show in which creators discussed their craft I'm your host Sky Pillsbury today? I speak with Shima Oli. Who together with Radio Lab Founder Jad Abu Murad produced the award winning show Dolly Parton America. And when I say award-winning, it's kind of personal for me. You see Dolly Parton. America beat out the show. You're listening to right now for the title of Discover Pods Best New podcast of two thousand nineteen. I guess I should also mention that there show just won a peabody award, and sadly inside podcasting wasn't in the running for that one. Regardless the fact that podcast I produced was in the running with a show about Dolly. Parton will always put a smile on my face when I was nine I idolized. Does I spent hours staring at her glossy album covers imagining what it would be like to be glamorous singer. And while that dream come true, it was still an incredible thrill for me to talk to Shema about this show. In case you haven't listened to the series yet. I want to play you a clip. This is from an episode called dixie disappearance in which Jad and she might take a look at some of the contradictions behind Dolly's iconic, persona. The episode centers around a wildly popular tourist event called Don. DIXIE STAMPEDE! It's a Rodeo style dinner theater, in which the civil war is acted out as quote, friendly competition. The word slavery isn't mentioned at any point during the show. In this club Shema and One through the experience of attending the event. Okay so basically! Warn you walk into the, arena. It's huge I wouldn't say it's a football field I would say it's like an Olympic size pool like with arena seats all around. It's like going to the Rodeo. Basically. It's like going to the Rodeo. It's like a ton of der- in the center of this massive oval. How many seats wasn't again? It was one thousand. Dolly Parton. And the whole conceit of this situation. Besides eating a tremendous amount of food, I mean a full chicken and pork line and some soup that has a lot of cream and a biscuit. It was a lot of food decides that. Blue quickly. find out your competition a friendly competition between neighbors. Five folks. Are. For. The whole arena is split in half on one side. You've got the north wind on the other side. And, the announcer who rides in on this horse on his steed. They just. He encourages each side to jeer at the other. Side fireworks. He asked you to kind of jeer at them. And then he goes to the South side and he tells us outside. Northern. Third. Foul smelling. Slobber all gas. Good here, way out of a wet paper bag there. Before we get started. You may hear a few names that you don't recognize. There's Aisha Harris who wrote a critical profile of the stampede after which Dolly removed the word Dixie from the events name. By the way we have put a link to that story in our show notes for this episode. There is also Dolly's nephew. Brian seaver as a kid Brian was talented break dancer, who sometimes performed onstage with Dolly he gives Shima and Jad a tour of Dolly's child home. In Tennessee's smokey mountains, Sarah's marsh is list. Who wrote a book about Dolly? Parton and University of Tennessee, Professor Lynn Sakho taught a class called Dolly Parton America, which is where the series got its name. Okay, let's jump into the interview. We kick things off with Shima revealing how she and Jad prepared for an introductory conversation with Dolly Parton. He comes up to me. This is this is actually kind of fun. He comes up to me. He has a book he like goes into the cabinet behind. My desk gets out a piece of yellow paper painted around up a tape. Sit around the outside of the book and he's like this top secret, but I needed to read this and then. I, need you to prepare me for a conversation with the person now as you know, I've already been researching and doing other things for his talk and other and other ideas that we're kind of cooking up for other series, and so he tells me it's Dolly, and you know so I read. This book is covered in yellow fluorescent paper. Which I think was unnecessary I don't. Don't think anyone cares so I read it I. Write all the questions, and are you writing questions like? Are you knowing okay? We're GONNA do this. Do you have any premise for the show yet? We're like what kinds of questions are you writing down? Just questions pop into your head as you're reading it or this was a very yeah. This is a very moment so this. This is just the introductory conversation. So I also think we just needed to have an introductory conversation you know before you even touch certain things and we were both green, which is the beauty of kind of a jazz reporting is? He's okay with like not knowing anything when he begins which I think. adds to kind of the journey. You go on when you start telling. Telling the story, so the listener is going on the same ride you on which is very, I think emotionally fulfilling so we didn't really know when we started we. We knew enough basics and I brought to him everything I found really interesting. The passages I had compelled questions. We go way went over them edited and he went to interview Dolly and he comes back. I listened to the tape. And you hear this in the third episode of the series where she's like even GonNa. Get a question in because ninety minutes goes by. After his first question, and she just does the Dalai magic

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