We are a bunch of Texas graduate students focusing on Slavic cultures, politics, and peoples and their connections with the rest of the world. We are all about outreach and this podcast is entirely born from our collective inspiration and teamwork. Podcasting is not easy, folks. It's cheap, perhaps, but not easy. And we couldn't do it without the support of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and the talents of various individuals both on campus and in the Greater Austin area.
Basically, it started like this. In February 2019, one of the first-year grad students reached out to Tom and said, "Hey, what do you think about starting a podcast?" Tom was like, "Hell yeah." And then Matt got roped in. He was a bit more skeptical, cautiously optimistic let's say, but after the first few episodes were recorded, things started warming up. Podcasting. Sure. We can sustain this. At first, we tentatively reached out to professors and asked oh so politely if they wouldn't like to be on a new Slavic and Eurasian podcast. We really didn't expect people to say yes--especially not when they had PhDs attached to their names. But lo and behold, we were never turned down or ignored. Not once. And after the first ten professors who willingly agreed to come to our "studio" (figuratively dubbed the Fusion Room, or Fusion Chamber, however you prefer to think of it), we grew a lot bolder, and anyone and everyone on campus or visiting the university as a guest speaker/lecturer became fair game. And as our confidence grew so did our audience -- we have listeners in over 60 countries and counting!
Check out our current team below, and if you feel like reaching out, please do via our contact page. We would love to hear from you!!
Matt (Co-Producer, Host)
First episode hosted: March 2019
Matt is a native Texan from the Houston area. He's attended George Washington University, majoring in Russian Language and Literature and has spent time in Russia on a Fulbright scholarship. He is currently at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a dual master’s degree in Global Policy Studies and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. His research interests include civic education, democratization in the Post-Soviet space, contemporary Russian literature and US-Russian relations. He can be seen riding his bike all over UT's 40 Acres. This is his second year as SlavX host, and in the first season he is often heard paired with co-host Tom. Connect with him: https://facebook.com/orrrmatthew
Tom (Co-Producer, Host)
First episode hosted: March 2019
Tom hails from Boston, Massachussets. He has served as a research intern at Stratfor since 2019. He has conducted research in relation to all corners of the world, exploring energy dependency in the Mediterranean, Russian macroeconomics, the growth of climate and anarchist protests, and blockchain technology. He holds a degree in history from Bowdoin College, and like co-host Matt, is in the process of obtaining a double master's degree in Slavic Studies and Global Policy Studies from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He speaks conversational Russian and French. This is his second year as SlavX host, as well, and along with Matt is one of the founding members of The Slavic Connexion. Connect with him: https://facebook.com/thomas.rehnquist
Katya (Supervising Producer, Host)
Katya grew up in Northern Virginia and frequently spent summers in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), her paternal homeland in Northeastern Siberia. Initially determined to distance her field of study from anything Russia-related, Katya wound up with a bachelor’s degree in Slavic Languages and Literatures with a minor in Russian & East European Studies (in addition to a bachelor’s degree in International Studies with an Anthropology minor). Her current research interests include revitalization of Indigenous languages and cultures in Russia, current tensions relating to Russian (ethno)nationalism and minority group (ethno)nationalism, effects of globalization on rural populations, and the effects of state-sanctioned environmental racism. Her current non-research interests include tending to her plant children, collecting insects, eating pickles, and giving strangers unsolicited podcast recommendations. For this podcast, she has taken over most recording and scheduling responsibilities this season, and is prepping to assume the role of executive producer starting Fall 2020. We are so excited to have her!
Cullan (Associate Producer, Host)
First episode co-hosted: September 2019
Cullan grew up in Boston and has a B.A. from the University of Vermont in History and Political Science. He is now pursuing a master's degree in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. His research interests include Czech history, 19th and 20th century Central Europe, uses of digital consumer media as tools for public history, national identity, and what do those demanding "historically accurate media" even mean? Before moving to Austin, Cullan worked in Vermont both as a paralegal and trivia host, which are critical experiences for any good podcast host.
Lera (Associate Producer, Host)
First episode co-hosted: September 2019
Lera, while born in Tiraspol, Moldova, was happily raised in the suburbs of South-Eastern Pennsylvania and the land of Wawa. After getting her B.A. in Japanese from Penn State, she spent the next 6 years bouncing around between Japan, the DMV area, and Pittsburgh before finally landing in Texas to start her dual-degree Master's program in Global Policy Studies and Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies at UT. Her research interests include U.S.-Russia relations, foreign diplomacy, grassroots exchange, and protest/dissent in Russia. Her limited free time interests include showing everyone pictures of her two cats, engaging in the Fast and the Furious franchise discourse, and never finishing any of her knitting projects.
Charlie (Executive Editor, Music Producer)
Charlie Harper is a music composer, songwriter, musician, and instructor. Music has guided Charlie to many places and has given him a unique collection of stories and experiences he would like to share with the world. Starting his music education at the age of 12 and touring the world at the age of 17, Charlie has been performing live consistently and has been part of and performed with bands signed to major labels such as Warner Brothers, Island Def Jam, and Columbia Records. He has had the opportunity to be on some big stages, touring and being direct support for bands such as Tove Lo, Imagine Dragons, The 1975, ZZ Ward, and many others. He has also had an appearance on the Late Late Show with James Corden. For The Slavic Connexion he is the man behind the opening and closing theme and the music in general. Starting November 2019, he will be taking over as executive editor to ensure all the episodes "sound good". Visit his website at www.charlieharpermusic.com.
Michelle (Creator and Executive Producer)
Michelle Daniel is a writer, jazz musician, and graduate student at UT Austin in Slavic and Eurasian Studies. Having spent nearly two decades as a performing artist, she now combines her passion for connecting with global audiences through music with her deep love of Russian history, language, and culture. She's developed an interest in the policy aspects of modern media and is writing a book on Seva Novgorodsev, a Cold War DJ for the BBC Russian Service. As with the BBC during the Cold War, she believes academic institutions should not dwell in pre-internet isolation and should collectively embrace the demographics that shape public thought and opinion to educate, democratize, and challenge them via forms of media engagement that permit the sharing of research, ideas, and culture. To this end, she has strived to develop "sound networks" in her current academic setting and hopes to further UT's global reach and impact.