Passion Creates the ER Diary Podcast Series
Natalie Kahler grew up in a large family in a small town in Pennsylvania. She came to Brooksville in 1999, bringing a love of people, community, and a voracious appetite to contribute to the betterment of her new home… and a possible obsession with history.
Natalie has held several roles in the City of Brooksville, from City Council to Mayor, and discovered the deep familial history that is woven throughout this charming southern town. She got involved with a place that was deeply entrenched in Brooksville’s history, and then given away.
Many people will testify, there is something about “the hill” that draws one in. A single visit is not enough, and Natalie got involved in running the place under the Friends of Chinsegut nonprofit at about the turn of this century. While involved with saving the magnificent manor house, she also found historic documents that caused her to look more deeply into the families and stories of what had happened on this site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Elizabeth Robins, an international actress and author championed the women’s vote and purchased the property in 1904 as a retreat for her and her brother, Raymond.
The property was left to the U.S. government which leased it to the University of Florida and then the University of South Florida. During the universities’ tenure, many historical documents and artifacts were relocated from the premises. It has been said that the library held over 8,000 books, but in 1999 few were still there.
Still, Natalie found a wonderful treasure: Elizabeth Robins kept daily diaries of her life from the age of 14 beginning in 1876, as well as most of her correspondence. Natalie began devouring what she found and traveled to other locations to find out more about this mysterious woman.
Things changed. Natalie stopped working at the mansion. Others got involved. The Friends of Chinsegut folded, but still, she kept reading, writing, and researching the history of this interesting woman of a bygone era who had documented history through her eyes in her activities, relationships, and achievements.
Today, Natalie Kahler is the Director of Brooksville Main Street, whose slogan has been, “Believe in Brooksville.” Her love of history and her love of her chosen home have melded together to create the perfect storm with the E.R. Diary Podcast.
The E.R. Diary Podcast
Jujitsu-trained suffragist Elizabeth Robins began her literary career when she began documenting her life in her diary in 1876 at age 14. Her diaries extend until her death in 1952, so cover the Gilded Age through the post-WWII era. Her diary is filled with her famous friends, including such names as Henry James, Christabel Pankhurst, Virginia Woolf, Oscar Wilde, William Stead, and Marion Lea.1
Elizabeth’s detailed writings form the basis for each episode of season one, where the listener is taken to a place and time between the Gilded Age and post-WWII eras by Elizabeth’s actual words Natalie, the show’s host, and an expert on that time and place have a conversation providing context and details of the subject from Elizabeth’s journal.
There are ten episodes in the first season, each tying into local Brooksville history and founding families and their contributions to the area, Florida history, U. S. history, and even international history with some deep dives into social and economic drivers of the times.
The E.R. Diary Podcast – Sound Team
A lithe piano theme flows throughout each show and provides continuity and ambiance that was created specifically for ER Diary by Randi Holaiden Olsen of Live Oak Theatre.
“While I have long admired Elizabeth Robins through studying her works, the experience of working with a team of local experts to put this project together has been a true joy,” Natalie said. “From interviewing experts, I learned that diaries are not fact-checked and that they relate stories through the writer’s eyes. While I knew that before, working on this project has crystallized that idea for me.”
“Brooksville has so many strong creatives living here. Telling stories together through the E.R. Diary Podcast has been both a learning experience and an opportunity to create something that is greater than any one of us,” Natalie shared.
The team that worked on this project includes Lief Thomason, Producer and owner of OddLifeStudios, Barry Meindl, graphic designer and owner of daBarr Graphics, Allisa Babor, web designer and owner of Roots Creative Company, and artist, Nancy Barry.
“Producing the ER Diary Podcast has really been a special experience. I work on projects with artists all over the country, but it’s a rare thing for me to do creative and collaborative work locally. It really feels like everyone involved has given 100%, and everyone has been humble in their contribution. It’s a true work of collaboration,” Lief shared, “From start to finish this project has been a joy, and I very much look forward to more collaborations like this with Natalie and the whole E.R. Diary Podcast team.”
Profound Revolution Studios, a recording studio in downtown Brooksville handled the sound and podcast’s technical recording. Tom and Patria Dye co-own the studio, contributing to the area’s music and podcasting scene. “We were so happy to work with Natalie and the team on this project,” Tom told NatureCoaster.com, “Even on the day when our power wasn’t working as it was supposed to, everyone just chipped in and got the job done. It is a great episode and a testimony to the power of a great collaboration.”
The E.R. Diary Podcast – Visual Team
Barry Meindl and Allisa Babor are co-chairs of the Brooksville Main Street Design committee and contributed to E.R. Diary Podcast with their creative skills.
“The graphics for the Elizabeth Robins Diary podcast were a lot of fun to put together. The logo actually comes from Elizabeth’s handwriting on her 1951 diary. I found it in photos Natalie shared with me from her research. We were looking for elements we could pull from them, and the initial thinking was that it would be great to incorporate as much directly from Elizabeth and the time period as possible,” Barry shared.
The funny thing about it is when Barry first presented the logo to Natalie, she didn’t realize that it was coming from an actual image of the diary and didn’t seem happy with it. But after explaining the origin, everyone fell in love with the idea, and with some final tweaks, it was perfected.
Marrying Art with Words for the Merchandise
The artwork for the merchandise came from Nancy Barry, who created incredible paintings based on Elizabeth’s quotes which were then used for stickers, t-shirts, a journal, postcards, and notecards.
The fun thing was extracting the handwriting from the paintings which we were able to turn into T-shirts, stickers, and more! This was such a fun team project that took everyone!
Creating the ERDiary.com Website to Connect
We wanted to pay tribute to Elizabeth’s accomplishments in the suffrage movement leading us to utilize purple as the main color on the website, with white and yellow as slight accents throughout the site and graphic designs. Although Elizabeth had many successes throughout her lifetime, her story cannot be told without sharing her work as a suffragist.
Allisa shared, “One main reason this project is special to me is that it is a culmination of my dear friend Natalie’s hard work and dedication over the years– she has spent hundreds of hours reading Elizabeth’s diaries and learning about her life.
Another reason is that as a woman, I look at Elizabeth and feel inspired by all she was. She used her talents in writing to make a true difference in the world around her. In the Gilded Age, dozens of people just like Elizabeth passionately advocated for people who at the time did not have the roles and rights that we are all endowed with as humans. She fought long and hard using the pen as her weapon, embracing the tools she had to make a positive impact on her friends, family, and strangers in the U.S. and the U.K. When I listen to tales about Elizabeth, I like to think that I see a piece of some of my friends, heroes, and maybe even myself in her. The E.R. Diary Podcast reminds us that we can all make a difference for our friends, family, community– and even the world.”
Get Involved with ER Diary Podcast Today
This incredible team has worked hard to create a memorable listen with useful content. Natalie’s vision, the team’s contributions, and a generous grant that funded the first season from Florida Humanities has brought to life the words of a woman of substance who crossed our path. And that, my friends, is why you should listen to the E.R. Diary Podcasts, starting with season one… and get ready for season two!
1 From the website, https://erdiary.com