At family gatherings, Amanda Cupido is the one with a microphone in her hand. A 10-year veteran of the podcast scene, she has always wanted to record the stories of her Cupido clan for posterity.
“I always have more story ideas that I would love to capture, but I already have countless hours of Cupido family audio,” she says.
It all started in 2018 when she was leading a podcast workshop series at the Toronto Public Library.
Now, she brings her passion for preservation to the people of Toronto and beyond with “Remember This,” a new app and podcast dedicated to saving and sharing the touching stories of our fellow human beings.
“After each session, people would come to me to ask me how to capture oral histories of loved ones, especially family members who were losing their memory or nearing the end of their life. I wanted to help so much, ”she says.
So the following year, she partnered with developers Troy Forster and Jake Edwards to create an app that would allow people to record their own stories and then automatically edit them in a podcast format. The trio are committed to working on the project as a community and making the app free because, says Cupido, they know how important it is to be able to capture the stories of a loved one before they are too late.
“Storytelling is the backbone of humanity. We have been doing this since the dawn of time. Before knowing how to write, we transmitted oral histories. Capturing these memories allows us to preserve a person’s story in a special way, ”explains Cupido.
“A lot of times people will keep an old voicemail message from a loved one who has passed away. They will replay it to remember them. Audio is such an intimate medium. It helps people feel less alone.
Cupido is particularly keen on capturing the stories of the seniors for this project, as their voices are often missing from the audio space.
“Unfortunately, society tends to have a lot of stereotypes about older people and their voices can be under-represented. More specifically, in the podcasting landscape, we know that older voices are lacking, ”says Cupido. “The ‘Remember This’ podcast is intended to help raise those voices and further diversify the age of the people featured on the podcasts.”
Designed to be accessible, with large fonts and high contrast colors, the web application works on computers, tablets and phones; users can answer up to 10 different questions about their life, such as “What was your proudest moment?” and “Is there a feeling you are experiencing?” For each question selected, the application will give a countdown, then start recording. Then it automatically mixes the responses with the music and narration to create a well-produced audio story. At the end, users can choose to download the audio stories for themselves or submit them to the podcast.
The early podcast episodes contain a range of stories, from Rosa, 83, telling how she was raised by her grandmother in Italy, then came to Canada to raise her own family; to the love story of 101-year-old Peggy and her husband, square dance enthusiasts who met when they both worked for the TTC.
Cupid saw firsthand the power these recordings can have – in focus group testing, people often cried after hearing their stories replayed for the first time. Providing this service brings deep joy to Cupido.
“The pandemic has been an isolating experience for many people and has made their loved ones more appreciated. And because of the pandemic, the elderly are more vulnerable than ever, ”says Cupido.
“This app allows people to capture memories that deserve to live on forever, and the podcast makes it easy for them to share their stories with the world.”