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The Dartmouth
April 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

‘Hanover Happenings’: A Podcast for the People

Town Manager Alex Torpey’s new podcast aims to boost community and civic engagement, one episode at a time.

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The College's decisions have historically implicated the town of Hanover, including through construction projects and business sales.

This article is featured in the 2023 Winter Carnival special issue. 

For the busy college student, podcasts offer a convenient way to explore a variety of different subjects. Self-care, true crime, relationship advice —you name the topic, there’s a podcast out there covering it. Hanover Town Manager Alex Torpey believes that the podcast is the perfect medium to “break the ice” between the local government and members of the Hanover community.

After his instatement as Town Manager in June 2022, Torpey noticed the limited social media presence among Hanover town administration. In seeking a solution, he said that he asked himself, “What is the best way to get information to people where they are at?”

The answer, he believed, was “Hanover Happenings,” a monthly podcast aimed at making information on government projects and community events more accessible to citizens, especially those unable to attend town meetings.  

“Maybe they’ll get interested in coming to an event or joining a board,” Torpey said. “It’s all meant to just create more interactivity. From my perspective, a lot of people talk about government transparency. There’s this phrase that I use: effective and authentic public engagement.” 

For Torpey, this engagement is a two-way street. He hopes that in addition to conveying information to the public, his new podcast will also invite them to share feedback and reach out to local officials. 

Despite the physical proximity of Hanover’s Town Hall to campus, the people and processes that keep the town running often seem distant to many students.

Listener Bea Burack ’25 noted that for many students, engaging more deeply with local politics would require sacrificing vital time needed for schoolwork or other responsibilities.

“It’s hard, we’re busy and it’s definitely a choice for how you’re going to spend your time,” Burack said. “But, [the podcast] definitely humanizes town government. It’s an opportunity to hear directly from the people who work day in and day out to make sure that we have our roads cleared, our elections run smoothly and all those things we take for granted.” 

Episodes of “Hanover Happenings” range from five minutes to over an hour depending on the subject matter. Currently, Torpey hosts and produces the podcast on his own, but said he hopes to expand coverage in the near future. 

“At some point it will be not just updates from me from the select board meetings, but updates from our different departments and boards,” Torpey said. 

Central to the podcast are spotlight segments in which Torpey highlights the achievements of those working to improve the town.  

“Part of it is connecting people in the jobs to the reason for doing the jobs, and showing that we have a ton of people here that are passionate about what they do, and letting people express that to the broader public,” he said.

These spotlights aim to bridge deeper connections between residents and those who work for Hanover, not just in their capacity as government employees, but as community members and individuals. Torpey noted a future podcast episode spotlighting local librarian Sarah Molesworth, who was able to complete the entire 270-mile Long Trail hike in Vermont in a month. Torpey said that he hopes sharing stories like Molesworth’s will encourage listeners to get to know more of the individuals who make up the Hanover community.

For many students, college marks the beginning of their participation in politics. However, this is complicated by the fact that most students arrive on campus with little knowledge of the particular issues facing their new community. 

“I think the podcast is a great idea. It makes politics and the going-ons of Hanover a lot more accessible to students who have packed, busy schedules,” Daisy Li ’26 said. “As a new voter in Hanover, I think the podcast is a really great way to get condensed information about the important issues in Hanover and get a broad overview of local politics.” 

Torpey said that he has plans for an episode aimed directly at educating new Dartmouth students on local issues. He sees the College and its students as partners in the growth of Hanover, and he added that he hopes this podcast will usher in a new era of increased collaboration between all who call Hanover home.