• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Title

Campus-Based Podcasts

What’s your favorite campus-based podcast? Better yet, does your campus produce a really good one?

January 29, 2019
 
 

What’s your favorite campus-based podcast? Better yet, does your campus produce a really good one?

I’m wondering if podcasting could be a new form of outreach for college radio.

Audio entertainment, as opposed to video, has a distinct niche.  It’s perfect for the car, or for working out, or for having in the background while making dinner.  Radio people have known that for a long time; the radio version of “prime time” is “drive time,” or rush hour. Watching a movie while driving would be illegal and dangerous, but listening to music or an audio program isn’t a problem.  Audio goes great with keeping your eyes on the road.

It’s no secret that terrestrial radio has lost some of its audience to other forms of audio.  Streaming services like Spotify allow for much more listener control than a radio station does.  Digitized audiobooks are far more convenient than the old books-on-tape. And podcasts have emerged as a genre of their own, updating the old radio play or talk show with asynchronous playback, convenience, and amazing range.  They’re also usually free, which used to be radio’s unique strength. As smartphone storage has gotten cheaper, it’s easy to store hundreds of podcasts even on a fairly low-end phone, ready to play on a moment’s notice.

Many colleges still have radio stations, but I haven’t seen or heard of many going into podcast production, especially with students.  I’m wondering if we’re missing an opportunity.

Some podcasts are just repackaged radio, which is fine as far as it goes. But the podcast genre lends itself to different possibilities. Because it’s specifically audio, it can be much cheaper to produce than student movies.  And because it’s hosted somewhere, I’m guessing it’s relatively easy to count the number of downloads and find out what has caught on and what hasn’t.

I’ve heard of colleges with “iphone video film festivals,” in which students submit videos they’ve made with their smartphones (presumably Android phones are eligible too) for screening before a real audience.  But I’ve never heard of a college doing a student podcast contest.

Is someone out there doing something like that?  If so, are there any transferable lessons learned that the rest of us might benefit from hearing?  Instead of seeing podcasts as a threat to college radio, I’m wondering if they could give it new life.

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