An Oral History of The Podcast

Much like how the universe started with a big bang, The Slavic Literature Pod started with a big plate of blini.

The year: 2018. The time: Fall. The place: a hotel on the outskirts of St. Petersburg, Russia, near Pulkovo Airport.

Matt and Cameron came to the hotel’s restaurant early, both groggy from a nearly 20-hour flight and still dealing with jet lag. They were the only ones there, other than their assigned roommates.

They loaded up on plates of blini stuffed with strawberry jam or sour cream. Then, food and caffeine finally in hand, the group introduced themselves and sat down to eat their first meal in Russia.

One of the canals running through St. Petersburg.

It was the first day of their study abroad semester in Russia. Matt came from The George Washington University in D.C. to improve his Russian. Cameron came from the University of California, Davis, to write an independent study paper.

Matt did end up placing among the most fluent speakers in the group, while Cameron never wrote a single page of that paper. As far as we’re aware, the bounty that university staff put on his head is still open.

The pair bonded over their shared major, International Relations. Well, mostly they bonded over making fun of it.

It was an auspicious start to an iron friendship lasting through the whole program.

They even let us play on stage for some reason. Matt is on the left, Cameron is center-right.

Despite their academic success in Russia, both Matt and Cameron had a more important duty back in America: to start every other conversation with the phrase “When I was studying in Russia…”

So they returned home that December. Over the next year and some change, they talked occasionally. But mostly the routine of their final year of college took over.

Hard cut to the pandemic, 2020.

In the intervening time, Matt had started his PhD program outside of the Windy City at Northwestern’s Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. And though Cameron was no longer working in radio, he had turned his free time and training toward hobbyist podcasting about media.

The pair, and other friends from their program, started talking again on Discord. They also drank wine while they did so. A lot of wine.

After some time, Matt had a thought. It was elemental still, amorphous, but it was a dream. So he pitched it to Cameron.

Unfortunately, Cameron was wandering around in the desert so he didn’t get the message for a little while. But once he did, the two immediately fell into planning. Then the planning turned to work — writing, reading, recording, website-making, you name it.

And just a few months later, the duo debuted Tipsy Tolstoy with three episodes on December 4th, 2020. Naturally, given their name, the lads kicked off the podcast by covering Nikolai Gogol’s “The Nose.”

And since then, it’s nothing but history. Well, if you want to get technical, most of the story happened after this point – but if you want to hear that, you'll have to listen to the podcast.

Over the years, our podcast has thrown a lot of things at the wall. One of our favorites has always been having fun art made. Since the re-brand, most of it has become defunct – but we love it all too much to let it fall by the wayside.

So here's a little walk through history.

Our very first cover art, courtesy of Matt and his photoshop skills. 2020.
Credit to Matt's girlfriend for this cross stich and for listening to him talk about the podcast endlessly