Though hosting the university-based podcast All Things Equal is “not real sexy stuff,” its anchor Gary Stewart said, the show has broadcast a dependable voice on community affairs on Ithaca’s airwaves for over 12 years.
The radio show — focused on conversations about diversity, equity and inclusion — released its 600th episode on April 23. For this landmark, Stewart interviewed City of Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 and Ithaca City School District Superintendent Luvelle Brown.
In that episode, Myrick proclaimed April 23, 2019, “All Things Equal Day” in the City of Ithaca to commemorate the podcast’s history and awards. Over the years, the podcast has been honored by the New York State Broadcasters Association, the State University of New York Council for University Advancement, the Community Dispute Resolution Center and the Greater Ithaca Activities Center.
The show was founded in 2007 in response to local events — according to Stewart, it was a time of racial tensions on campus and in the community. David Skorton, Cornell’s president at the time, thought that show could be a resource during the crisis.
All Things Equal has responded to a decade of tragedies locally, nationally and internationally with a platform for conversation. After 50 people were killed in a New Zealand mosque in March, Cornell’s Muslim chaplain spoke about making sense of the aftermath. When white supremacists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, Brown spoke about his family’s reaction to the events in his hometown and what can be done now in Ithaca.
“Whenever something happens, [the podcast] is a good resource,” Stewart told The Sun. “Because it’s not just a five-minute news story with a token soundbite — we have a conversation.”
For Stewart, he became involved with the podcast after working with the Ithaca Journal for seven years as the opinions editor. As the associate vice president for community relations at Cornell, he now co-hosts All Things Equal with Kate Supron, campus community liaison, and Susan Riley, deputy director of community relations.
“I’m not afraid to ask the awkward question[s],” Stewart said.
That’s how he’s managed to learn about the things he doesn’t know and make progress in his own life — which has been the most rewarding part.
“I would never get a guest on the show and blindside him or her about something — they’re literally my guest,” Stewart said. “It doesn’t mean that there aren’t questions sometimes that are a little thought-provoking.”
“I like to humanize things and just give some basic facts along the way so that people can learn some things along the way too,” he continued.
The show — which Stewart describes as “very human” — has seen its share of emotions, where both guests and Stewart himself have cried. He said that’s how All Things Equal has become a community show, listened to all over Tompkins County, not just a Cornell show — by offering a breath of fresh air. The podcast gets an average of around 1,000 hits each week, according to Stewart.
The 600th episode’s content reflected Stewart’s sentiments as he reflected on the show’s history. As well as giving updates about the state of the City of Ithaca, Myrick and Brown offered meditations on the work that still needs to be done in terms of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“We need to listen more and talk less,” Brown said. He explained that people need to hear others’ experiences before they can act towards progress.
“I’m bringing a love and commitment to making this world a better place and our community a better place,” Brown continued about his work within the school district.
For Stewart, “listening more and leading with love” felt like a good summation of his goals with for podcast in the years to come.
“There are so many things that come and go,” Stewart said. “We’re proud of the fact that we’ve been able to do something for an extended period of time that still has value.”
All Things Equal airs on Tuesdays at 8:40 a.m. on WHCU radio (870 AM, 95.9 FM or streaming at www.whcuradio.com).